Social Justice Poetry

A Comma Is a Pipe Dream | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

The amount in every paycheck
has a period in it. Those who
get a paycheck every week

dream about seeing a comma
three spaces in front of the period.
Those who have a comma

dream about seeing a 2
in front of the comma
instead of a 1.

Those who have a 2
in front of the comma
dream about a 3.

That’s how it works for those
with good jobs and benefits
but not for those on

minimum wage.
Many of them see only
three numbers in front

of the period every week.
The first number is always a 3
after taxes and deductions.

If a 4 or 5 would replace the 3
they might celebrate a tad
and give a little shout.

But they will never see a comma
three spaces ahead of the period.
That’s a pipe dream not theirs to see.

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