Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Celeste Schantz: at the department of social services

We sit in the failure factories; 
we, the apparition of working mothers
clutching our utility shut-off notices.
This form says provide proof of your destitution,
please summarize your poverty please add
emotional abuses in these two lines
please multiply by the darkness
of the members of your household;
keep your faces down,
fill out the lightyear spaces
on these forms; don’t look into
your neighbor’s eyes, provide
a brief estimate of what happened
to your life. You were the American
dream, you went to school;
you don’t belong in this crowd;
your babies’ faces are soft as fallen petals
brown, pink, yellow innocent
and damaged as early blooms
splattered on a wet
April morning. One time I saw
a woman fall asleep here, hunched
over her chair with her black
umbrella; we shouted
as her name was called
but she just slept, bent down
like a breaking bough.

After “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound : “The apparition of these faces in the crowd/petals on a wet, black bough.

Copyright 2019 Celeste Schantz. First published in Solstice. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.

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