125 Dollars A Year
- a poem by Doug Draime

125 Dollars A Year

If I can’t make a living at my art,
am I selling my soul
by working at something
I hate
in order to eat, or feed my family,
while I pursue my life and art?
And does it matter if I
make minimum wage,
or become
financially solvent
from my
despised labor?
Who and where is the
judge who judges
such things?
Was my writing better
when I
was going
sleeping on park benches
and stranger’s
food from super markets, and
walking the streets?
I speak to you, you reading this,
you hearing this, you of the
privileged class! Yes, you elitist
You who can read ... reading books
and magazines of literature, you who own computers ...
while three-quarters of the people
of the earth
exist on a 125 dollars a year.

We are the privileged, we are
the elitists!
We who can afford to write and
read in the comfort of
some individual corner. Even if you happen to be
on the bum when you read this ... you have
a dumpster, or garment box,
or maybe a tree to lean against.
At least you have that!
You may say that everything
is relative on the earth..
But there is nothing relative about starving
and oppressed human beings
You know or have known poverty?
Well, I don’t think any of us can really claim to know poverty.

Yet, let me know the
sweat and blood
of my labor, whatever
it may be.
Even, if I end up hating the
machine which produces it,
knowing full well it is the
very same machine,
which is responsible
for the destitution and ignorance of
people, who populate
three-quarters of the earth.

Doug Draime (1943-2015) emerged as a presence in the 'underground' literary movement in the late1960's in Los Angeles, California. A Senior Literary Editor for The Commonline Journal, Draime's books include: Knox County (Kendra Steiner Editions) and Los Angeles Terminal (Covert Press), Boulevards Of Oblivion (Tainted Coffee Press), Farrago Soup (Coatlism Press), and More Than The Alley (Interior Noise Press). Draime was awarded PEN grants in 1987 and 1992. Born in Vincennes, Indiana, Draime lived in the foothills of Oregon since the early 1980's until his death in 2015.