Cardboard Biographies by Debra Roberts

I am not a silent poet

This is a story. It is not pulp fiction, written to wring momentary empathy from us so that we can feel good about ourselves — our station, our comforts, our meager charity. This is a cold reality I see regularly, and have seen regularly for the past seven years.
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Nebraska and Kansas are magnets, mid-trek stopping points for the long migration coast to coast — not only for migratory birds, but for human beings, too. These two states are center plate of the big melting pot, the Bible belt, the Bread Basket of the world; and I witness the unfolding of a hundred sad stories, as semi-annually, many make their trek from east to west and west to east, each and all chasing friendlier climates.
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*****
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I watch as a reality show flickers upon the screen of an unkind truth. Again, today, I witness the brutality of…

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