© 2015 paulwhankins

“How To Know If Your .89 is Real”: Number 2

The second in our series of poems, “How to Know If Your .89 is Real” inspired by A. S. King’s I Crawl Through It. With thanks today to songwriters, Jay Gorney and E.Y. Harburg for their American standard, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

“How to Know If Your .89 is Real: Number 2

 

When you hear your metallic tithe

hit the bottom of a swinging red bucket

and it sounds familiar–like a rhythm.

 

Half a million feet once marched to

the rhythm, the cadence of your hands

beating on a drum on the way home,

singing the work songs of the railroad

blended voices coming down from towers.

 

Two thumps in the bottom of a kettle,

it all comes back again, what they called you:

 

“Al.”

 

One letter short of being complete.

 

So, when they gesture to you from the curb

asking what you can spare, you reach

into the pocket of a rumpled khaki suit jacket

and feel for two coins. One big. One smaller.

 

A dime. . .and one.

 

Thump.

thump.

 

Lub.

dub.

 

Like a heart beating, wringing out the red,

like a bucket that will be spilled

onto a table downtown to be counted,

to see what it was worth today.

 

Paul W. Hankins (March 2015)

 

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