The Cab Driver Who Ripped Me Off

By Cornelius Eady b. 1954 Cornelius Eady
That’s right, said the cab driver,
Turning the corner to the   
Round-a-bout way,
Those stupid, fuckin’ beggars,   
You know the guys who   
Walk up to my cab
With their hands extended   
And their little cups?   
You know their problem?
You know what’s wrong with them?
They ain’t got no brains.
I mean, they don’t know nothin’
’cause if they had brains   
They’d think of a way   
To find a job.
You know what one of ’em told me once?
He said what he did,   
He said it was work.   
Was work.
And I told him
Straight to his face:
That ain’t work.
You think that’s work?
Let me tell you what work is:   
Work is something that you do
That’s of value
To someone else.
Now you take me.
It takes brains to do
What I do.
You know what I think?
I think they ought to send
All these beggars over   
To some other country,   
Any country,
It don’t matter which,   
For 3, 4, years,
Let them wander around   
Some other country,   
See how they like that.   
We ought to make a   
National program
Sending them off
To wander about
Some other country   
For a few years,
Let ’em beg over there,   
See how far it gets them.   
I mean, look at that guy   
You know, who was big   
In the sixties,
That drug guy,
Timothy Leary?
Yeah, he went underground,   
Lived overseas.
You know what?
A few years abroad
And he was ready to   
Come back
On any terms.
He didn’t care if
They arrested him.
He said
The U.S. is better
Than any country
In the world.
Send them over there   
For a few years.
They’d be just like him.   
This is the greatest country
In the whole world.   
Timothy Leary
Was damn happy
To get back here,
And he’s doing fine.   
Look at me.
I used to be like that.
I used to live underground.
I came back.
I think all those beggars got
   a mental block.
I think you should do something.
I mean, you ought to like   
   what you do,
But you should do something.   
Something of use
To the community.   
All those people,
Those bums,
Those scam artists,   
Those hustlers,
Those drug addicts,   
Those welfare cheats,   
Those sponges.
Other than that
I don’t hold nothin’   
Against no one.
Hey, I picked you up.

Cornelius Eady, “The Cab Driver Who Ripped Me Off” from Autobiography of a Jukebox. Copyright © 1997 by Cornelius Eady. Used by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Source: The Autobiography of a Jukebox (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997)

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Poet Cornelius Eady b. 1954

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Class, Social Commentaries, Jobs & Working, Race & Ethnicity, Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Dramatic Monologue

 Cornelius  Eady


Poet and cofounder of Cave Canem, Cornelius Eady has published more than half a dozen volumes of poetry, among them Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (1985), winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; The Gathering of My Name (1991), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; and Brutal Imagination (2001), a National Book Award finalist. Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems appeared in 2008.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Class, Social Commentaries, Jobs & Working, Race & Ethnicity, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Dramatic Monologue

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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