“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:




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.








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)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *