the wax paper

Ten Dollars


I gave ten dollars today to a homeless woman.

She was young, in her twenties. 

She had a dog and a cat.

Nine weeks old she said.

It was hot.

The three of them were sitting on the sidewalk on Fourteenth Street.

It was the sunny side of Fourteenth Street.

Why she didn’t sit on the shady side I don’t know.

Maybe the money was better on the sunny side.

Maybe the passersby were more generous on the sunny side.

I don’t know.

I didn’t ask. 

It was very hot.

I gave her ten.

I do know this.

The wrong people in this world have all the money.

I wish I had lots of it, millions and millions.

I would give it all to the homeless.

I would give it to the girls and the dogs and the cats and the vets of Nam.

But it’s the wrong people who have the millions and millions.

The poets should have all the money. 

The poets should have the millions and millions.

The poets would know what to do with it. 

The poets wouldn’t care what the homeless did with it. 

There would be no strings attached.

Each would pursue happiness in his or her fashion.

It would be just as Jefferson said.

He, too, was among the wrong people with millions and millions.

It’s always the wrong people.

Watch the news you’ll see what I mean.

Or walk down the sunny side of Fourteenth Street.

Tired of this?


So am I.

I’m done with this poem tired of being a poem

by a poet tired of being a poet

about a girl tired of being homeless 

in a country tired of being the richest country 

on an earth tired, oh, how tired, tired, tired of being the world.


J. R. Solonche has been publishing in magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s. He is author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books).