a literary magazine about money, work, & class

Probe the Wound

Whose pain do we doubt?
Our own irritation is blinding, I know.
The creditors are the the only ones who call every day.
We gave up on landlines because of telemarketers
but now the debt collectors are in your pocket
and we can’t quit them because we’re all they’ve got,
and the connection gets thinner and thinner
every time we think we have to have something.
The ground is heavy with us.
On my phone, a GIF of lava,
rolling and mumbling like it’s waking from a bad dream,
is it helpful to see it illustrated onscreen?
We are not volcanoes.
We don’t walk around bleeding
while we’re looking at our phones trying to figure out
whose number that might be
or do we, and maybe this oozing earth
is scarred beyond compassion,
is the guy on the street we look away from
because his pain will be the same as yesterday’s,
only more. It’s too much and we’re tired of owing,
even if you could open your gut like an oval vinyl coin purse
on a little ball chain and spill out gold it wouldn’t be enough,
and your belly feels full of bus tokens,
heavy and out of use, you search yourself
because you forgot you were robbed –
we’re bound to do a lot of checking,
rummaging through all the pockets
the body holds, every organ maybe the one
in which we put that receipt.

Elizabeth Scanlon

Elizabeth Scanlon is the Editor of The American Poetry Review. She is the author of Lonesome Gnosis (Horsethief Books, 2017) and the chapbooks The Brain Is Not the United States/The Brain Is the Ocean (The Head & The Hand Press, 2016), and Odd Regard (Ixnay Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in many magazines, including Poetry Ireland, Poetry London, The Boston Review, and Ploughshares.