“You can’t make money with poetry,
And that’s what makes the poet free,
But I’ve had all the freedom I can stand.”
Forget the ropy muscle of hourly wage,
The sweaty bricks and replacement trees
All workers pick up sooner than later.
Buying money with your youthful sinew
Only strengthens from the outset;
Biceps hardening like petrified peach pits;
An ass to crack an egg on;
A drum-like belly filled with beer.
And I, who would later pawn each playdate
With promises of shinier ones to come,
Borrowed repeatedly against my family journeys,
Even picnics and barbeques, to pile the stuff against
Some future tower of solid gold (or maybe brass).
And now I balance precariously on park benches,
Watching from a distance. No longer needed, no
Longer welcome in the beauty of those boring games.
And a golden hairpiece for my swollen head,
No more a husband, father than a wolf pack’s lead,
But with pockets now bulging like tumescent tumours, and
None wanting such unwieldy encumbrance in the progress
Of their timely games.
So whatever else, money is expensive:
The mortgages of mind, the loans against
The living, now stuffing vaults with feckless faults.
Craning backwards, transforming Time to
Money, and Money to sole surviving evidence
Your stash still brings you desiccation
And a graveyard rest, O aggrievéd King.
[with apologies to Irving Layton and Mark Slouka]