Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FIVE DOLLARS A WEEK, by HERBERT KAUFMAN



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FIVE DOLLARS A WEEK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Thus is it down on beelzebub's books
Last Line: "when a girl hasn't money enough for her board."
Subject(s): Labor & Laborers; Poverty; Work; Workers


THUS is it down on Beelzebub's books;
"August the seventeenth—Isabel Brooks;
Home in the country; folks, decent but poor;
Character excellent; morals still pure;
Came to the city to-day and found work;
Wages five dollars; department-store clerk."

Wages five dollars! To last seven days!
Three for a miserable hall-room she pays;
Two nickels daily the subway receives;
One dollar-forty for eating, that leaves—
One-forty has such a long way to reach—
Twenty-one banquets at seven cents each!

There! Every penny of wage has been spent—
Squandered for feasting and riding and rent!
Spendthrift! She does n't remember life's ills.
How in the world will she pay doctor's bills?
What if she's furloughed (there's always a chance);
Isabel ought to save up in advance.

Hold! We've not mentioned her clothes; she must wear
Dresses, hats, shoes, stockings, ribbons for hair—
How shall she get them? Suppose that we stop;
Perhaps it's as well if we let the thing drop.
You good mathematicians may figure it out;
(It's a matter of figures or figure, no doubt).

Carry this picture, it's better, I'm sure;
"Character excellent; morals still pure."
What else is written, we won't try to see;
Beelzebub thinks much the same way as we.
Why, as I live, there's a tear in his eye!
Now, what in Hell can make old Satan cry?
Surely the Devil is feeling his age;
Look what he's writing on Isabel's page:
"Virtue's a luxury hard to afford
When a girl hasn't money enough for her board."





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