My mother has been working since American dreams turned into illusions

Two jobs is a family tradition

Mama taught me how to trade the softness of my skin for paychecks,

As she works night shifts and a day job

Till she is rewarded with calluses and another two weeks

The softness of her skin broken into by rent money, and medicine

As she built this family

Paycheck to paycheck


My siblings and I were born into tsunamis

Floating on EBT

Sinking in minimum wages

Drowning with my neighbors

I got used to my home wasting away


Our houses are falling down and were choking on the debris

In my village money looks like oxygen tanks

and we’ve been heaving for years


As America runs on the sweat of villages like mine

For the CEOs and the ones with gold in their heritage by taking the resources from my mother's homeland

They trickle down their left overs

And I learned with every neighborhood in poverty there is a class with blood on their hands
There is a class with their toes on our spines
Whips on our fingertips

My community kept telling me love doesn't pay the rent
Its gotten so hard to believe i can piece the walls of my house together again
With trying hopes and crumpled pages of poetry
I swear there is love on my palms


Yet sometimes I hear my sister crying

Working two jobs at 19 years of age

I swear, I’ve seen my mother's tear ducts break like shipwreck

I swear, I heard my village weep like they know drowning


We are hard workers

We are surviving

But we are tired

So We let the paint peel

We let the water stain

And the floors scratch

The windows break

We let dishes pile

The clothes fall

We let this home become empty and scornful

Let the dogs loose and the fish die

We let the sisters work

Let the sisters hustle

Let them serve and supply

Let them sacrifice

Let them anchor and steer

Let my sisters work like our mother; because we had to


We are the working class and the world needs our labor

Like I needed my mother's softness

Moving in a never ending cycle

Forever working for the people keeping us oppressed

To serve and supply,

Forever trying to pay the bills

To anchor and steer,

Forever trying to feed someone

We’ll be working graveyards until we’re in them

Sweeping the corners of every lobby

Watching the paper in our pockets run out

Taking orders on tired heels

Sucking the last bit of oxygen this village can afford on minimum wage

Because in the working class, two jobs is just a family tradition

And I am so tired, that gasping for air has become a family heirloom.

This poem is about: 
My family
My community


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