Four Poems*


Amanda Laughtland




*The text for all of these poems is drawn from Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. 






I’m watching TV at the motel.

Tea bags soak in a plastic cup of water overnight

for iced tea.  Finally I lie down and breathe.


I wake up a few hours later to hear a sound

not generated by anyone’s TV: a woman singing

“Well, it’s a job” to the accompaniment


of trucks on the highway.





The Waitress


I used to work at the waffle place.

Couldn’t take the stares, I used to look so good.


Marge kept standing there chatting,

ignoring my “excuse me’s.”  Beer in her shopping cart,


she looked suddenly sober.  People

think we have nothing better to do, she said.





On a Budget


I don’t have a choice of BLT, fish sandwich, or hamburger

for only $2 at Kmart.  I do make my lunch almost every day.


Someone ought to do the old-fashioned kind of lentil stew,

some slow-burning, high-protein combo like chicken

with melted cheese on top and canned pinto beans.


I meant someone much younger than myself, some hungry

officious woman in blue—you know, go out there

with some potholders and a ladle to stir with.





After Breakfast at the Nursing Home


I join the flow of dirty plates,

other people’s French toast and doughnuts.


Linda has me vacuum the carpet in the dining room,

climbing under tables.  Where was I from?


Look at me now.  At my mid-morning break,

sweat-soaked already, sitting on a curb


getting a tiny glimpse of the endless slow rain

while the others drink their Cokes in the car.








Amanda Laughtland has work in E·ratio issues 8 and 14.  She teaches English and is a faculty adviser to the student-edited literary/arts magazine at Edmonds Community College in the suburbs of Seattle.  She enjoys making collages and small zines, which she occasionally publishes under her imprint, Teeny Tiny Press.