“If I Made a Living Wage” by Elliott DeLine

If I made a living wage

I think that I could disengage

The guilt I’ve felt for being alive

And doing what I must to survive.


The time wasted, the sickening rage

Uncivil servants in my face

Accusations, threats, and lies

Profits from my teary eyes


My mother’s silence

My father’s shame

The intergenerational pain

“We pulled ourselves up, why can’t you?”

“A college degree should get you through.”


Set aside material needs

What I want is Dignity

But in addition, let me see…


(If I made a living wage…)


I would pay my share of rent

Repay those from whom I’m leant


I could afford a therapist

For my mental health laundry list


Henceforth, I’d have less PTSD

Fewer nightmares and anxieties


I could go for coffee with new friends

And also afford my medicines


Maybe I could get a guitar

Or even, dare I say, a car?

A couch that isn’t falling apart

Supplies with which to make some art


I’d get a lawyer, who isn’t free

And sue DSS for harassing me

And Sally Mae for swindling me

And transphobic employers for firing me


I’d also save for a kayak or two

Or maybe just a big canoe

So we could go and have a good time

As far as I know, that isn’t a crime


I would never have to fill out forms

Prove I’m poor enough for alms

Or be accused I lie and whine

When I try to claim what’s legally mine


I’d keep writing books, and with more promotion

My sales would really pick up motion

I’d create my own self-publishing collective

For trans and queer writers who are also rejected


I would travel to places where I could swim

And build my cats a jungle gym

I’d be able to just relax and chill

And buy the foods that don’t make me ill


Yes, If I made a living wage

I think that money could assuage

The peach of mind I’ve been deprived

And maybe then I’d truly thrive.


by Elliott DeLine