When ma got sick, I returned home,
Became fat and slovenly, to take care
Of her until she died. Medical bills stacked,
Sapping my savings. Actually, I have
Always been full-sized, but round or not,
I worked my rear off. Working from home,
I edited and wrote for a financial newsletter,
Before they dumped me in 2011, thanks
To the crash of 08. It’s still crashing. When
I couldn’t make rent, my roommate covered
My ass for three months, before she herself
Had to move back to her mom and pop.
Homeless, I left Modesto and took refuge
At a cousin’s house in Glendale. Near
LA, surely I can find a job tutoring,
If not editing? I have a BA
From a crap school, but it’s still a BA,
And I’ve a paralegal certificate.
For six months, I interned for a judge,
So my labor was welcome, except
The system didn’t want to pay,
For why pay when you can get
The desperate to slave for free?
The longer you stay jobless, the more
Unhireable you become, since you’re
Classified by potential employers as
Inherently lazy, and it doesn’t help
To be obese, which is nearly unavoidable
Since you’re sitting home all day, depressed
And eating corn chips and frozen burritos.
With no prospects out West, I thought,
Why not try DC, where the economy
Is jerked around and thriving? I sold
Most of my books and electronics.
I also raised nearly $600
On Go Fund Me. I was aiming
For 5,000. Oh, well. Still, I had
Enough for a train ticket, one way,
Since I was confident. As for housing,
I’d stay at a residential motel in Laurel,
Which is a bus and two trains from DC.
Here, I would surely get a job, but first,
Some sightseeing! In spite of myself,
I felt my chest swell just looking at
All those marble columns and steps, plus
More mowed grass than I’d ever seen.
In front of the White House, I ignored
Some crazy old lady protesting something.
In the cold, she lurked from inside a tent.
A month later, I’m still jobless and
More hopeless than ever. I have
Three Fs against me. One, I’m fat.
Two, I’m over fifty. Three, I’m female.
But then again, who isn’t ugly, really?
If you’re unkind, everyone is grotesque.
Actually, if I was a young, skinny female,
Someone would propably hire me for
Tasks that might even require brains. Lying
On this large bed with extra pillows, I wish
I could be locked inside here forever.
The bedside lamp has a low wattage bulb.
The curtain slit has an immortal glow, and
Outside, it might even be sunshiny.
All would be fine if I didn’t have a
Package to feed, wash and keep warm even.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
- Linh Dinh
- Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.