"Don't Love Me Anymore. Why is your hand on the floor?"


Poverty Bitch

A Prose piece for Male Voice by Sea Glassman. It was performed in front of a live audience at Cafe Muse during Rick Shapiro’s Spoken Word Night, Spring 2011.

Poverty is that bitch in the red velvet dress down to her ankles,

gold lame` scarf and under her vibrant smile? black and missing

teeth; she smiles that winning almost toothless grin – her other

teeth perfect and white – and somehow she undoes all of your

thoughts of what belongs to you. She is sheepish and shy while

undoing your zipper, and she slips you the hand while conversing

about Literature, the Arts. Her fingers are dirty, and her nails

chipped – not all of them. When she sings she can belt out a tune

like a diva – her raspy voice a tattooed barmaid seducing the

song, her long spindly fingers hold a thin cigarette, and she acts

like she knows you, even on the street, fresh from the bed, in

front of people you want to impress and don’t want to know that

you know her. And I love her, I love her.

This love affair, I’ll admit, has gone on for so long, she’s the only

one, the only one I see. I look around for others and – it’s not

that she’s jealous – she’d let me go if I wanted, but somehow, that

voice and the way she holds her cigarette, the way her eyes dance

a dangerous flame going up – I want her – I want her – I admit

it. She’s a bitch and she loves me, but she’s all I’ve got.

At night in the deep of her arms she pulls me close and tells me

lies, but she makes them sound like the truth. Her lipstick is so

red, so red that it makes the words pink going out: they taste like

cotton candy in my mouth, and they make me sick but I keep on

eating. It’s the only food she has, and I‘m hungry. I am so hungry

I forgot how to eat, but Poverty – Poverty won’t touch me, – oh,

she rubs my feet, and over her shoulder she tells me how

someday -she‘ll get to the rest of me,- when she has some time –

she’s busy right now, click, she clicks through her whore colored

lipstick, then whips out her cell phone to talk to some guy but in

the morning she’s gone. Who knows for how long.

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My pillows are stained with whore colored lips. No quarters for

the laundry.

I call and leave messages – I call all the time, but she’s out, or

she’s screening, she has an appointment – it’s only a friend. So I

wait and pass time – I watch some TV – she’ll come round again

– I know it. She always does. And just when it gets so bad – when

I am so lonely I feel like I’ll die, here. she. comes. Here comes

Poverty whistling a tune, and she throws me some dough, just

enough, and she winks, click – just a little, just enough, and I feel

so lucky, I go out and buy me a wee little token of Poverty’s

affection, something to hang on the car mirror, maybe those

fuzzy pink dice. A bobblehead of Poverty, nodding approval. And

when I see her next I’ll take her by the hand and thank her for

not forgetting me – she’s all I have. I take the token home and I

put it on my windowsill.

I think of Poverty when she’s not there – she’s always there but

she’s never there: when she’s out or with others, or smoking in

bathrooms, or on the phone with one of her friends. Only friends.

Then we’re at a party and she’s in a mood, – she slips out for a

smoke, slits her eyes going by – I was trying to ignore her, but

sometimes she’ll grab me and make me feel strong, like I could

do without her, she’ll kiss me like a drunken bear and then push

me away and I’m out on my own. Woozy and swollen and


And I don’t want her anymore – I’m sick of her – see ? I’ve had it

with her. I’m through. I follow and grab her skinny dry wrists

and she pushes me into the street and I go – I flip her off and tell

her your ass is too skinny! Now in the light of the street before

dusk, she’s scrawny and drawn, and not the least bit attractive –

her teeth are loose and falling out, her foot massages suck – she’s

a prude and she’s greedy, I tell her – I don’t like the token -it’s

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cheap and it’s flimsy – it’s damn badly made, it swings like a

monkey from my mirror, a monkey on my back, cheap, like her

shoes, which don’t match your red velvet dress! They’re the

wrong color!

This backs her up to the concrete street wall. She draws a straight

line with her eyes from my feet to my hair and opens her mouth

to a scowl shaped like a red bent wheel and rolls it at me – a

string of cuss words and a thousand black ships sailing out a red

cave to war, blue flags unfurling behind, and she flicks her

cigarette butt at me, click!, while it burns and she laughs at her

own cruelty, – she has outdone herself this time! Then she walks

down the stair case, that haggy old bitch, – she looked young in

the dark – I’m a fool – and she picks up the phone like I ceased

to exist and she talks, and I walk.

I walk away. I am done with her. She bores me. I admit it – I

loved her. I loved her so much I wanted to bleed for her. I wanted

her hand to reach through my chest and pull out my heart. I

wanted her all to myself all the time, I wanted to live with her,

live inside her, I wanted to be in her blood.

But there’s no liquid there, in those skinny veins – and she

doesn’t eat so I can’t take her out. She’d throw up the dinner.

Bulimic bitch. I’d call at the door of the bathroom, “Poverty!

Poverty! Are you in there? Are you okay? Are you coming out?!”

Here she comes, wiping her mouth with the back of her twiggy

thin wrist. Her hands, though the fingers are long and attractive

– dry as ten bones in a graveyard. She is mean, through and


So why did I love her, why was I devoted, why did I want her

and need her and beg her, again and again, to keep me, to keep

me ? Why did I follow her, come back again and again, hoping

she’d notice me, she’d pay me attention, that I’d be the one that

she’d keep?

That bitch didn’t even read the paper-she knew nothing of

current affairs – politicians and blow jobs, tsunamis in Asia,

earthquakes in India, the colors of the grass, splendid riches of

the world, waterfalls, windmills and grief, the ups and downs of

the stock exchange, song of the wind, blue of the sky, feel of the

air in the Spring, the cats and dogs to roll in the grass, to feed

and to stroke, the babies with fat rolls of flesh, toothless smiles of

pure love – she was selfish, is all. There was no one. But her. Just

Poverty. A one woman show. No room for anyone else. Nothing

in the refridgerator, because she forgot to pick up the milk, she

forgot to pick up the bread. That should have been the first clue.

But we’re through now, see? Through.