Cover Photo: Starr and her daughter, both Black, cuddled in the middle of a bed with cream-colored linen. They both are wearing white dresses and Starr is leaned down to kiss her daughter on the cheek, feeder braids and lower-arm tattoo sleeve showing.
Photograph by Jacquelyn Arora Photography/Courtesy of the author

The Funk of Poverty

My poverty is the most dangerous kind of poverty. It is religious. This is what I know, what my family and community know.


We pull rabbits from hats

Can I borrow some money, promise I will pay you back, and I need milk for the baby

sorry, don’t got no money either, go sign up for WIC

When I was growing up, my mother told me the government owes Black people money and because they will not give it to us, we have to take it.

My sister and I became masters at the games she played to get money. By the time I was a teenager, I fell into a relationship with a man who taught me how to bag weed and weigh it on the scale—a poverty bond that I thought was love. We were both products of a single-parent home. Both fatherless.

“Cut my food card back on! My baby has no more formula!”

Law & Order: SVU

I don’t want to do this anymore. I need more of the emotional shit, and I know you can’t do that

 Starr Davis is a poet and essayist whose work has been featured in multiple literary venues such as the Kenyon Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, the Rumpus, So to Speak and Transition. She is a 2021–2022 PEN America Writing for Justice Fellow and the creative nonfiction editor for TriQuarterly. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the City College of New York and a BA in journalism and creative writing from the University of Akron. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in poetry and creative nonfiction, Best of the Net and Best American Essays.