How Things Work. Gary Soto.

The welfare state… this is such a beautiful idea. The welfare of us all, fare thee well, and if forever, still forever fare thee well. The mother explains how we keep each other rolling by buying bread, a softball, coffee and rosin from our neighbour; an act that means the other is able to buy something they need. No trickle down nonsense where rich folk hoard their hundreds of thousands, millions and steal from the working people through wages that are far lower than the work is worth. Wage theft. In this poem without preaching Soto shows how people keep the neighbourhood alive and kicking, how people set up their local economy and how varied their buying is: softball, book, broom, movie ticket and crayons. And chicken. Hmmm, chicken.

How Things Work

BY GARY SOTO

Today it’s going to cost us twenty dollars
To live. Five for a softball. Four for a book,
A handful of ones for coffee and two sweet rolls,
Bus fare, rosin for your mother’s violin.
We’re completing our task. The tip I left
For the waitress filters down
Like rain, wetting the new roots of a child
Perhaps, a belligerent cat that won’t let go
Of a balled sock until there’s chicken to eat.
As far as I can tell, daughter, it works like this:
You buy bread from a grocery, a bag of apples
From a fruit stand, and what coins
Are passed on helps others buy pencils, glue,
Tickets to a movie in which laughter
Is thrown into their faces.
If we buy a goldfish, someone tries on a hat.
If we buy crayons, someone walks home with a broom.
A tip, a small purchase here and there,
And things just keep going. I guess.
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