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October 2013, vol 8, no 3

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Autumn Noelle Hall

Every Time It Rains, It Rains

this bowl of sky
that which holds me holds nothing
for me

My single-parent income, comprised almost entirely of alimony and child support, is paltry enough to qualify my college-aged daughter for a Pell Grant. The $3500 pays about half of one semester's tuition, and I pay the remaining half plus $14 out-of-pocket. When it comes time to file taxes, the one offsets the other, and I am only able to claim $14 in college-related expenses.

pennies from heaven
evaporating mid-air

Detailing the plight of an impoverished hispanic mother, my free verse poem, Manos Y Metates, nets me the $50 1st Place Adult Poetry win for Messages from the Hidden Lake. I cash the check from the Southern Peaks Library District, using it to the fullest advantage to declare Earned Income Credit.

chico mirage
a jack rabbit hidden
in the rabbitbrush

Turbo Tax estimates a $214.00 refund. But then I remember the $500 my daughter borrowed from the small ESA my father left her as an inheritance. Factoring in her text book money, the calculator takes my refund back down to $14.00.

the taste of dust...
hauling small potatoes
in a burlap sack

The FAFSA application for my daughter's financial aid is flagged for review, presumably due to the absurdity of my income. I drive the sage-strewn expanse of the San Luis Valley hand-carrying official copies of my IRS 1040 to an incredulous One Stop clerk at Adams State College.

"Only $50.00 in earned income?!"

"Afraid so..."

"Couldn't you just sell more poetry?"

Wondering to myself how many poetry books she'd ever purchased, I don a wry smile before answering, "I'll work on that."

sky-borne cross
a magpie, laughing himself

What is the value of a valley that writes itself with wind? Today, I cannot see the crown of mountains for all these dust devils dancing.

still the treed cicadas sing
of cottonwood

The title is taken from the chorus of "Pennies from Heaven" (Arthur Johnston / Johnny Burke)