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Retiring for the day from her job as a sales clerk,
A woman supporting her family as the only one with work.
Her husband lost his job because of the recession,
Leading him and our nation to fall into depression.

Like everyone else, he turned to liquors.
Rum soothed him, but it enhanced his rigors.
The only thing that fed his addiction,
Indulging in his government-issued prescription.

She opened the door,
And saw bottles on the floor.
It was that time of day,
But she’d be okay.

The setting sun shined a new light on a captivating sight.
She chose to focus on its beauty,
Instead of losing to something she was unable to fight.
A familiar storm standing at six-feet-two-inches,
Reminding her of the reason why she flinches.

Against whom she would never win,
The storm raged towards her.
Swirling with insecurity and misplaced anger,
Controlled by a man consumed with chagrin.

Approaching her like a hurricane,
It stumbled closer and closer.
When it finally towered over her,
She was, once again, at the mercy of the distillation of sugarcane.

The honey-colored sea surrounded by a glassy shore.
She stood there frozen,
For she could not run while bound by a ring of golden ore.

The waves crashed in accordance with the rapid and relentless gales.
She tried to block the blows,
But it was an effort that routinely fails.

And fro.
And fro.

She felt the ocean’s spray on her face,
Smelling not of salt but of syrup.
The droplets fell and touched her skin,
Stinging the marks she’d soon erase.

Although she was accustomed to this type of weather,
It was hard to keep her sea-legs while wearing shoes of pointed leather.

Come morning light,
The angry winds slowed and the waves with them.
The breeze kissed the wounds it had left just last night,
Then whispered in her ear:
I’d never hurt you on purpose, darling.
I love you, there’s nothing to fear.

She replied with a smile and a nod,
To avoid another collision.
Keeping her mouth shut, she plead to God:
Please, let them bring back Prohibition.

We look to you, American legislation.
The pattern of alcohol and abuse is not merely a correlation.

Our husbands’ hands to which we fall victim,
Are the physical consequences of this system.
Something that we cannot overcome,
Is an emasculated man on his fifth glass of rum.

May you save us with your New Deal,
And let them provide the money for our next meal.
Return to them their masculinity,
And reduce our risk of early lividity.

Bring us prosperity, President Roosevelt,
For we do not wish to be strangled by our husbands’ belt.
It is to the women that you should be attentive,
And take away the men’s incentive.

Their days previously spent in factories,
Now being wasted, drowning in daiquiris.
Their palms have grown soft,
But make our skin thicker.
Now, American government, it’s your turn to deliver.

Put a stop to the pain,
Even if it sacrifices your economic gain.
While you fuel a fire that helps you thrive,
We’re the ones being burned alive.

Blunt force trauma or strangulation
Will likely bring about our expiration.
In the moment, it’ll be their choice.
Just remember that you ignored our voice.

While they’ll be the ones to rip the breath from our bodies,
You’ll have put the strength in their hands with your commodities.
Although our lives belong to them,
Our deaths will soon belong to you
And your policies from which they’ll stem.

We ask for pity,
And for you to take accountability.
You can’t make a cruel man less violent,
But you can remove the accelerant.

In their eyes, being the sole provider made us sinners.
So it goes, the fate of the female breadwinners.

About this poem

This poem is about alcohol-induced domestic violence during the 1930s.

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Written on February 11, 2022

Submitted on May 01, 2022

3:43 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme aabb ccbb ddee fgfxc hiih jiij dbd kxk LMLM nxhn ii fofxxx pbpb bb qqqq rrgg sstt ucxii jjvv bbww uuolo ggxx cc
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 3,654
Words 743
Stanzas 23
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3, 4, 4, 2, 6, 4, 2, 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 4, 5, 4, 2

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    "Breadwinner" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 5 Feb. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/125857/breadwinner>.

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