Lois Roma-Deeley is the author of two collections of poetry. Her second book, northSight (2006), earned her a nod from the Los Angeles Book Prize nominating committee and received critical praise. Rules of Hunger, her first full-length poetry collection (2004), earned her a National Book Award nomination. Roma-Deeley has won numerous awards and honors for her poetry, has published in seven national anthologies, and her work has been featured in numerous literary journals nationwide. In collaborations with visual artists on several ekphrasis projects, Roma-Deeley's poems have been exhibited nationally and internationally.
What the Poor Know
When walking into an office, store or room,
I make my body thinner than a strand of hair.
When the manager/clerk/teacher looks my way
he/she sees nothing but a quivering line
vibrating in the air. I try not to breathe too much.
Always hold my chin in, tuck it close to my heart.
If the church woman in alligator shoes
comes to our house with bags of seedless grapes,
cans of lima beans, cartons of powdered milk,
I will take it all.
She will hand me a voucher from St. Paul's,
say my family should clean the yard, try harder
to find a job. I try not to think of aliens
who scoop out the soft spot of new born babies.
At night, when I pray to God,
I try not to curse too much. But my eyes always drift
to the double holes filled with drying toothpaste
which are supposed to make
the screws of the screen door stay in place,
the flat tire in the living room that has to wait,
my aching teeth, that half-bottle of gin sitting on our floor,
the two dimes and twelve dollars I keep hidden
just in case.