I always dream about money: or the mediocre happy poem

She answers the door almost naked
But for leopard print undies
The asshole of an orange cat stuffed under her right arm
His sleeping head cradled against her bare breast
And a plate of meringue cookies balanced in the other hand
“Hey babe!”

This is what our life looks like
What my mother has come to call the “poor phase”
As if everything is temporary
And we’re just waiting for the next level.

It is the reason why my hair looks like straw and rat tail
Why our everyday costume is more than slightly shabby.

Some nights, with our bodies bracing against the cold—
Because I refuse to keep the oil burning,
I pray we might find a winning lottery ticket lost under the driver’s seat.
But we don’t buy lottery tickets, no extra cash,
And we don’t play scratchies because my dad is superstitious.
My sister enters Publisher’s Clearing House every month and hasn’t won yet.

I am sad for myself
I am sad for this generation of degenerate debt-collecting hipsters
With dreams of poetry and poppies
Told we could be anything we want
An overwrought population of millennial potters
And bakers
And candlestick makers
Thanks to Mr. Rogers and Big Bird
for our downtrodden mantra
All you have to do is dream and you can achieve.

My all poet friends are potheads
Smoke dangling words like grapes above their angry, hungry mouths
My working friends are tired
Earning less than the total of monthly bills
Living the life grad school and dean’s list has gifted
My parents are unemployed
Car salesmen are a dime a dozen
The cape house retirement forgotten.

I am an unpatriotic American,
Disgusted by jingoism with hopes for a better next month
Raise your glasses, here’s a toast to
Health insurance, job security, life insurance
Rent, electric, cable, phone, school loans, school loans
Gas, maybe groceries this week, more school loans,
Car insurance, mortgage, heat, life
Walking dead horny homunculus spitting ink
Onto signs reading God Bless the estimated 3650 homeless
Worcesterites hobnobbing from Kelly Square to Webster Square
Peg-legged, pit-mouthed, and sucking dry air from a God
We don’t
I can’t believe in anymore.

But today, when I see her smile
A soft furry purring thing at her side
The smell of red sauce stewing in the kitchen
And the ring on her fourth finger that matches my own
The ring that symbolizes the freedom to touch in ways Russia could never understand
The freedom to love in ways Uganda kills for
The freedom to proclaim unity in ways Arizona can never refuse
I don’t regret the $40 copay for intent to unionize document
Or the $75 marriage license
Or the $20 bottle of cava to celebrate
Or the $100 in tips saved up for three days
For tapas barely covering tiny square plates
Our swan-arm taste testing cold meat
that melts on our tongues to heal daily sores slow, slow.