The Sunday Poem: Richard Vargas... not what we had in mind

It's tax season again, a time filled with meaning for both the employed and those who are not.  Richard Vargas continues to explore the American dream.


Vargas graduated from UNM's Creative Writing program in December 2010, and was awarded his MFA with distinction.  He just edited and published the second issue of The Mas Tequila Review, a poetry magazine whose scope is a balance of regional and national poetry. A group reading by many of the New Mexican poets published in the latest issue will take place Saturday, April 23 at Alamosa Books. (Additional info posted under Duke City Fix events.)



not what we had in mind


99 weeks of scouring

job listings on the internet

filling out applications

and now wondering if maybe

it’s time to dye the gray hair


no longer part of

the official headcount

we are dropped off

the government’s radar

maybe we’re working

maybe we’re not

maybe we gave up

doesn’t matter anymore


articles appear on the internet

the long-term unemployed

are perceived as a bunch

of losers and are less desirable

than a colony of lepers

telling us what we

already know

after 99 weeks

we see the people on the sidewalks

lady liberty waving at rush hour traffic

like a hooker on the make

or a patriotic mickey mouse pointing

as if to say “I Want You”

it’s tax season and they

are trying to get our attention

our business


after 99 weeks

we begin to wonder

about how much

they get paid to do

what they do

because it would

be nice to be paid


it’s been a

long time

--Richard Vargas

Poetry submissions are welcome. Email

Views: 43

Comment by Poet Oishi on March 27, 2011 at 8:23am
Richard is like a prophet--crying out what he sees. Pulling no punches. Just the kind of voice we need.
Comment by Adelita on March 27, 2011 at 8:30am
Wow Richard, I could have written this one.  After two years of looking for a job, I finally found one.  It was frustrating hearing that I was overqualified or sensing that employers thought I was desperate.  All I wanted was a paycheck and would have been, and actually was grateful. for any job that came my way.  Thank you for putting into words how I felt for a very long time.
Comment by JeSais on March 27, 2011 at 9:40am

aaahhhh so this is what I have to look forward to ? :-)

Yes, Richard, yours is an important voice for our times


Comment by Margaret Randall on March 27, 2011 at 9:45am
Sitting at a table at Macy's, in Flagstaff, driving home from California, and I thought I'd get on line and see what the Sunday poem had to offer. Richard has done it again, as he continues to do! This is a powerful poem, and so relevant to the times. What's wrong with this world, that we are not paid for writing poems like this one?
Comment by Amanda Sutton on March 27, 2011 at 12:50pm

I've been a citizen of Laid-off, USA, too, since 2009. Thanks for calling it like it is, Richard.

Yesterday when folks were protesting our involvement in Libya, I was thinking to myself how many jobs those million-dollar bombs could buy.

Comment by Dee Cohen on March 27, 2011 at 6:11pm
Right on target Richard. Thanks, Dee
Comment by Barelas Babe on March 27, 2011 at 7:17pm
Powerful stuff, Richard. Your poem shows the struggle of keeping dignity and pride intact during these hard hard times. Thank you.
Comment by Richard V on March 28, 2011 at 1:26pm

thanks to all who took the time to read. and comment. and to Ditchrider for his commitment to highlighting local poetry. please come out Apr 23 at Alamosa Books and hear a fantastic gathering of New Mexico poets read from The Mas Tequila Review.!/pages/The-Mas-Tequila-Review/112...


Comment by Merimee Moffitt on April 11, 2011 at 4:00pm
hey Rich, Just catching up on my Sunday poems--a month of Sundays.  Your poem is great--hits the heart and gut and mind--makes me think of my nice mailman with whom I unfortunately opened a discussion of the budget probs--OMG, he blames lazy welfare women--I'll never perceive him the same again.  Collectors of WIC coupons (electronic now no doubt) are not the problem here, nor are the very willing to work and desperate folks who just haven't created a job out of prayer, hope, and snot quite yet.  Thanks hugely for your honesty in slapping back at the machine.


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