Many Immigrants Find American Life is Centered on Making Money

The job is killing me, he says
and I nod,
glancing at the headstones
along the cemetery path.

I’m just dying. There’s nowhere to go, he says
shaking his head.

I remind him about his family
about his music
about all the little things
we do to fill our life
with distractions
so that we can do something


other than think about how our jobs are killing us,
whittling us down
in small bites
so that each
we step inside those doors
won’t feel like our last.

Because if the babies
and the art
and the movies
and the music
and the galleries
and occasional trips
don’t keep distracting us
we’ll realize
that we’ve sold
the best of us
for a paycheck
the amount of which
will never
add up
to all that we’ve given.

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press) and the novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). She has two poetry books forthcoming, How To Be An American (Six Gallery Press) and Better Luck Next Year (LowGhost Books). She currently lives in the part of Brooklyn voted to have the best halal trucks. Read other articles by Ally.