25 May

She sits on her narrow porch puffing on a cigarette

staring without expression at her feet.

 Three ex-husbands and two school-age children;

another tight-fisted  night pulling restless sleep.

 She rises slowly, goes inside to urge her new boyfriend,

encouraging him to go, to leave and to go look for work.

 She offers to make him a peanut butter sandwich

to take with him. He mumbles “I ain’t goin out today,

  maybe tomorrow.”          


Two well-dressed children without child support;

no extra pennies to offset the cost of living…

 staring without expression at her feet hands on her lap,

clutching between her fingers, an unlit cigarette.

 Standing, looking over both shoulders,

she reaches for the ceiling to a loose board above her chair.

 Secret money for lunches, school clothes, a carton of cigarettes,

and a pair of new sneakers for work.

 Smiling, for the first-time  today,

she tucks folding money in her waistband.

 She sits down and lights her torch

vaporizing an otherwise, bad day.


Late afternoon, it’s Monday, Betty’s day off.

Puffing on a cigarette watching her oldest child,

waiting at the end of the driveway;

watching without discreet, into every passing car.

Just started high school this year,

meeting new friends on main street-

she’s hoping to find a ride.

Betty sits there smoking, smoke curling,

exhale billowing between her and her thoughts;

the only things close to her now

seemed to be slipping away too fast.


 Driving in a well-marked  car with broad gold letters,

and a big clipboard on the dash, full of papers neatly stacked,

the County sheriff pulled in with a soft crawling gravel stop.


The neighbors watched his walk in slow mo’

crossing  the few feet to Betty sitting on the porch;

Asking her for identification, even though he knows her name.

A familiar figure, all thanking God, he’s not stopping at their house.                             


She drops her cigarette at her feet into an empty soup can,

rises without surprise.

Conversation is quickly limited to responses of yes after yes, after “yes sir.”

They exchange confirmation and signatures;

 eviction notice served.

Another friggin’ mess.


Going inside, she picks up the free local paper;

having been folded with precision,

 with some anticipation, to rentals and the classified

then goes back to her perch on the porch.


Her child, Angelica, must have gotten a ride.


Looking up at the sky reading the clouds,

reading the rentals and what’s included in the price

her attention turned to the opening screen door.


who had run through the back door,

and hid up in her room when the sheriff arrived,

was bringing out a kitchen chair to join her.

Forgetting main street for now.


Ear to ear smile, patting the hand of her oldest child,

Betty put the paper down, looked up the street,

lit another cigarette, slowly exhaling, quietly whispered,

 “everything is gonna be all right.”


Who are we to judge?

“Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning.” Henry Miller


Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Poetry


17 responses to “Betty

  1. Jami

    August 6, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    I’m extremely inspired with your writing skills as well as with the structure on your
    weblog. Is this a paid topic or did you customize it your self?
    Anyway stay up the excellent quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a great weblog like this one
    these days..


  2. ZQ

    May 27, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Always nice to hear from you and everybody else who has commented with Kind and interesting thoughts.


  3. dsnake1

    May 26, 2014 at 11:10 am

    there are many Bettys over here too, struggling to survive. yes, who are we to judge? is a cigarette more important than the next meal? perhaps it is able to give her strength.
    you have painted a very poignant and gritty vignette of life. sometimes reality can be harsh. 😦


  4. Myrna

    May 26, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Enjoyed reading this sad story. Betty is like many – doing her best. You captured the essence of her life very well.


  5. Sherry Marr

    May 25, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Oh the gritty reality of the single mom – the “well-dressed kids without child support”- the stoicism, the determination, the “everything’s gonna be all right.” Such courage. There are millions of women like this. They are everywhere. Great capture, my friend. You know them well.


  6. scotthastiepoet

    May 25, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Terrifically evocative and tender write… I especially enjoyed the line: “another tight-fisted night pulling restless sleep” – perfect and also “pulled in with a soft crawling gravel stop.” terrific writing… I have replied to your enquiry re: ‘puppies’ -as in puppy dogs – hope that helps… With Best Wishes Scott


  7. Truedessa

    May 25, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    “Everything is gonna be alright”..I believe it will be as she has spirit..and who are we to judge??? Interesting thoughts I am glad I came over to read.


  8. claudia

    May 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    yes – who are we to judge… some people still manage to smile in them middle of a mess and cherish those little light rays.. think she could teach us some lessons


  9. Sumana Roy

    May 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    what an interesting character you’ve sketched…she’s above situations…sad and gritty…


  10. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    May 25, 2014 at 10:23 am

    She seems to have the right sense except in choice of men.. She’ll pull through,


  11. jo-hanna

    May 25, 2014 at 9:28 am

    some people simply have too much trouble piled onto their lives…
    You’ve created a strong character who seems able to withstand it.
    Now you’d better give us a happy ending 🙂


  12. James Jamztoma Toma

    May 25, 2014 at 9:08 am

    I love this piece. I have always “admired” this type of life, this situation. So simple, so void, and yet people of this situation are perceived to be easygoing and laidback…I have friends who were in this type of lifestyle and have gone on to be successful…with proper educating of the kids and all. Blessings, Jamztoma


  13. vandana

    May 25, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Since, ancient times sages and learned men are trying to figure out what life is all about, but desite this we al have to move for any stopping is not good.


  14. Gabriella

    May 25, 2014 at 8:53 am

    You have written vivid and very realistic scenes, ZQ! Your Betty feels like a woman in a movie.


  15. Grace

    May 25, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Yes, it will be ~


  16. Mary

    May 25, 2014 at 7:58 am

    A very poignant poem today, ZQ. Hopefully, Betty is right…….


  17. brian miller

    May 25, 2014 at 7:58 am

    good on her for knowing peace…even in the midst of chaos…what a mess with the eviction notice…all too familiar picture there…all the close things slipping away…sadly another familiar feeling…



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