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Volume 2 | Issue 4 | May 2008 | 

The No-Net World
Larissa Shmailo


Deep in your heart, you always believed
There was a barrier, a secret shield
Keeping you safe from the street
Secretly, you knew
Your good shoes and your warm lined gloves
Kept you apart, and safe
From the man with the cup in his hand
and the boy with the cardboard sign
and the woman with the bloated legs
and the girls with the begging eyes
From the weathered madwomen railing at God
And the shadows at the ashcan fires
From the need to ask, no choices left:
Mister, can you please …?

What did you, from the cushioned world
Of buffers, alternatives, other ways to turn
Of loans from family friends
Of credit cards and healthy children
Of grocers who smiled because they knew how well you ate:
What did you have in common with the concrete world of need?
Secretly, you knew, so surely you believed
You could never fall so low

Welcome to the no-net world.

Then I got fired one day
I got fired one day
Lost my job and then my house
I got fired one day.

Now your debts mount up like garbage and a layoff’s coming soon
And you have to see a doctor and insurance just pays half
And your folks who lent you money just can’t help you anymore
And the loans are coming due; still, the force field is there,
In the lining of the gloves, in the good if now used shoes
You will never stand like that goddamed bum
Holding the door at the bank
Too tired to whore or steal
Saying please ma’am, please ma’am please ...

Welcome to the no-net world

Then I got HIV
I got HIV
They found out
I lost my job
I got HIV

Welcome to the no-net world

You would never see
Hunger on the face of your child
When she came home from school there would always be
Apples and rice and chicken and beans
Milk and carrots and peas
Now there’s two days left till payday and just one last can of corn
And she’s home, laughing hungry, hi, I’m home, ma, what’s for lunch

Welcome to the no-net world

Are you hungry? Good:
Ready, set, line-up, let’s go:
You can get on line on Monday for the lunch meal that’s on Tuesday
and the shelter line’s for Thursday but you have to sign up Monday
But you stayed there just last Wednesday so you can’t come
back till Friday.

And the Food stamps place is downtown
And the welfare place is uptown
And the Medicaid is Westside
And the hospital is eastside
No I can’t give you a token
No I can’t give you a token
No I can’t give you a token
Don’t you know you’ll only drink?

Hell, yes.

Like a child praying to God
You believed in forever
You thought home and hearth were,
Not for everyone of course,
But surely for you:

Only in the nightmares
Rare unremembered dreams
Did you stand by the door of the bank
Yes ma'am, God bless you ma’am

Don’t get sick
Don’t let anyone you love get sick
Don’t be mentally ill
Don’t lose your job
Don’t be without money for a second
Don’t make any mistakes

Welcome to the no-net world

Larissa Shmailo









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