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Thursday Night Verse: We Are the 99 Percent

Judith Bernstein
December 28, 2016

by Judith Bernstein


It’s sure not us, babe,
Running those lucrative scams
Like Madoff’s or betting on derivatives,
Hoping people’s home values tank.
We don’t gamble on the price of corn
Or pigs or gold.

We’re not the ones with pads in Paris,
Santa Fe and Manhattan.
We don’t wear Ferragamo shoes, sport
Rolex watches, don’t live our lives
According to the gospels
Of Vogue and Gentleman’s Quarterly.

We’re your average K-Mart shopper,
Frequenters of Smart & Final.
We thrive on clearance sales, thrift shops
And bargains at Good Will.

We teach, preach, dig, deliver and sell.
If and when we go to college, we pay
The piper ‘til hell freezes over.

Each nickel rise in gas threatens
To end our driving days.
We know the ‘joy of cooking,’
Not Coq au Vin a la Julia Childs,
But a Redbook chicken casserole
That can feed six and last a week.

Our vacations, when we can swing them,
Are a trip to Disneyland or Mexico,
Not cooking classes in Tuscany
Or hot air ballooning
Over castles in the Loire Valley.

All this is not to say that some of us
Don’t read the New York Times, watch
PBS, and occasionally splurge
On a chocolate-stuffed croissant.

It is to say that we, the 99 percent,
Will not be dismissed,
Discounted or dissed.
We occupied Wall Street and by the same token
We will occupy the White House, the FBI
The Pentagon and the State Houses.
Watch out, one percent.
We are coming soon to a location near you.

Judith Bernstein writes on food and wine, the environment, politics, travel, and the arts. She also writes creative non-fiction and poetry. Since moving to California’s Central Coast in 2005, she has been a member of SLO Night Writers and served on its contest committee.