Fun with Poverty

Prompt: Poverty

Hello Wednesday,

No, there is nothing fun about poverty. Poverty means you don’t have enough of the things you need, often compounded by being looked down upon for something that is not only not your fault, but that you struggle to overcome against impossible odds on a daily basis.

Ok, sometimes people cope with poverty with integrity, courage, and grace. Sometimes people without material possessions learn to appreciate what is truly valuable. I know that because I grew up poor and that happened to me. But those are stories for another time.

Meanwhile, I have a few of my favourite cartoons to present under the prompt, “poverty”, which does not mean that poverty is fun, but that the trappings around poverty can be gobsmackingly nonsensical and that sometimes we deal with suffering by poking our fun stick at it.

So, here we go:

cartoon help wretch

cartoon too much money

cartoon hope

See also:

Stay safe, everyone!



Prompt: Urgent


“So why did you want to see me?” Cash asked. “What’s the emergency?”

“Just wanted to make sure you understood,” said Bernard. “You took some pictures, right?”

“Of you and the kid, with the hummingbirds.” The “kid” sat nearby, at the dining room table, intently tapping into a laptop. Someone was rattling around in the kitchen. Someone was singing.

“Nice house,” said Cash.

Bernard said nothing. It wasn’t really a nice house. It was extraordinarily ordinary, a sad little grey bungalow that could use a paint job, furniture inside adorned with cat hair, a golden retriever licking its private parts on the centre of the living room carpet.

“I would still like to buy the pictures,” said Cash. “I could have won a contest with those shots of you and…” he nodded to the boy at the table.

“My grandson, Andrew,” said Bernard. “And have you deleted the pictures?”

“Like I don’t get the problem,” said Cash.

“I’m just a private person,” said Bernard.

A young woman appeared at the door leading to, Cash supposed, the kitchen. She had a wooden spoon in her hand; there was something glossy, red, and meaty in the bowl of the spoon. “Zach says it’s too hot,” she said.

She fed the substance to Bernard, who seemed unembarrassed and unselfconscious at being spoon fed by an attractive woman. It all looked strange to Cash. Who were these people?

“Oh no, not too hot at all,” said Bernard. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his mouth.

Then the dog got to its feet. It went and sat in front of Cash, tongue lolling out of its mouth. Cash tentatively patted the top of the dog’s head. He didn’t know much about dogs. He wanted one as a kid, but his parents got him an aquarium instead.

“So you took the pics with your cell phone?” Bernard asked.

Cash took his iPhone out of his jeans pocket. He did take the pictures with the phone, despite the fancy camera his sister had got him for his birthday. The SLR camera felt unwieldy at the time. The phone seemed easier.

The dog, to the astonishment of Cash, nudged the phone out of his hands, took it in its soft mouth, walked it over to Bernard, and dropped it in his lap.

“What the fuck,” said Cash aloud, without thinking.

Bernard swiped through the photos on the cell phone, then handed it to the kid at the dining room table, who took it into the kitchen.

“Is that dog for sale?” asked Cash.

“Cash,” said Bernard, “nothing in this house, in my life, is for sale. Not the photographs, not Maxine, not my friendship, or my acceptance. You might be very surprised to know that your money is meaningless to me.”

Cash was surprised. And angry. What a condescending asshole. Cash grew up with money, sure, he was comfortable now, fine; if he wanted to reimburse people for their work or favours, what the fuck was wrong with that?

“Sorry for the speech,” said Bernard, as if he had read Cash’s mind. “You bring out the worst in me.”

Cash inexplicably took that as a compliment. He stood up. “My phone?”

The kid came through the door from the kitchen and handed it to him. “Nice shots,” he said. Cash took the phone back without comment.

“Stay for chili, if you want,” said Bernard.

Asshole, thought Cash. Asshole.


Prompt: Complicated


“I have half a mind to cut you off,” said Angus Applegate.

Cash had heard this threat many times before. “It’s up to you,” he said, in his most sincere voice. “I wouldn’t blame you.”

“What the hell happened?” asked Angus.

“It’s complicated,” said Cash.

“That girl, is she suing?”

“I haven’t heard anything,” said Cash.

Angus stood up. He’d been bent over a bed of irises, cutting out the dead stalks and pulling brown leaves from the undergrowth. When in bloom, the irises were a brilliant spring symphony of yellow, white, and blue. Now the little blue geranium blossoms were emerging between the stalks. It would be a quieter display, more soothing, and cooler for summer.

He took off his gardening gloves and stuffed them into the pocket of his grey trousers, which were baggy and none too clean. He liked getting dirt under his fingernails on the weekends, sweating into the band of the ratty straw hat he wore, smelling the earth, the bark mulch, the greenness, and the musty smell of dead leaves. He would spend all day in the garden, if he could. Constance wanted him to retire, but by Monday morning Angus was anxious to get back to work.

“What does daddy do at the office?” Cash asked, as a child.

“Daddy earns money so we can live in this house and eat this food and have people to take care of us,” said Constance.

Maybe his love of the stuff was why he named his son Cash.

Cash was a disgrace to his given name. And he was not exactly burnishing the Applegate family name, either.

“Virginia says hello,” said Cash.

Angus brightened, then attempted to conceal it. “Bring her over for dinner; Wednesday would work for me.”

“Ok,” said Cash.

“And when you take out the boat, forget about hiring your friends and use only my crew, and also forget about charging your friends for ‘private’ cruises.”

“Yes, sir,” said Cash, without sarcasm.

So, he was off the hook from that potential money-making venture cum disaster. He was forbidden from trying to earn while on the yacht. From now on he could only use it for pleasure.

Oh, well.