Back of Beyond


Winter morning in the warmth and comfort of a clean sedan
Is personal space within the commuting aggregate
That accesses coffee from the second window in a drive up queue
While the results of last night's presidential primary caucus
Are raked and sifted in Dolby surround sound.
Both the sedan in the lane
And the family without a car walking beside the curb
Cross the yellow speed bump together.
Half a block from the exit to the road,
The mother blankly leads the way;
The father pushes a grocery cart with their worldly possessions
Piled higher than he can see beyond.
A plastic covering whips in his face.
Holding his mother's hand,
The boy of five or six in an oversize puffy coat and beanie-
without gloves or mittens-treads onward like a man.
Behind her dad,
A thin girl of eleven or twelve in a light jacket carries a backpack.
Her matted, blonde hair blows around her earmuffs.
These children are not in school
Because a school requires an address.
At the corner the car turns across the family's path.
They close ranks and continue to the other side of the street.
Four people whose hardship, hopelessness, and fear are political issues
Are ignored by frantic pollsters seeking a pulse, not a diagnosis.
Ask the car driver, how can this be?

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