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Mrs. McKeown's Poetry
Gary Soto extra

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How Things Work

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Introduction:
This poem should probably be used with an older audience. Have the students read this poem to themselves. Then read the poem together as a class. Discuss what they think the author was trying to say.

Today it's going to cost us twenty dollars
To live. Five for a softball. Four for a book,
A handful of ones for coffee and two sweet rolls,
Bus fare, rosin for your mother's violin.
We're completing our task. The tip I left
For the waitress filters down
Like rain, wetting the new roots of a child
Perhaps, a belligerent cat that won't let go
Of a balled sock until there's chicken to eat.
As far as I can tell, daughter, it works like this:
You buy bread from a grocery, a bag of apples
From a fruit stand, and what coins
Are passed on helps others buy pencils, glue,
Tickets to a movie in which laughter
Is thrown into their faces.
If we buy goldfish, someone tries on a hat.
If we buy crayons, someone walks home with a broom.
A tip. a small purchase here and there,
And things just keep going. I guess.

-- Gary Soto, 1985 --

Found at:

http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/soto-how-things-work.html

Extension:
Have the students search for more poems written by Gary Soto and create an author display in your classroom.