“How to Know If Your .89 is Real”: 3


“How to Know If Your .89 is Real”: #3: By the Letters


You miss, more than many,

the loss of .11. It hits you hard

when you pass a dimestore

and your phantom hand sweeps

a pocket for what is left over.


It’s all you can hold in a world

that won’t even afford you

a reflection in a foggy window,

or return your last earnest breath

in exchange for your having given it.


This handful is your gross worth:

four pennies, three quarters, two nickels.

A palm full of precious metal:


8. . .

9. . .


You shake your hand to hear it

but the sound is lost in the audible

breath of another who has come by

and says:




8. . .

9. . .


“How are you?”


Two letters.


8. . .H

9. . .I


You turn amazed that someone sees

you. You pat your own chest again

and it all feels real. You try to conjure .11

to say:




when you realize the other person

was also trying to clear the window.

a pink, fleshy palm sweeps away

the dew and the person looks inside

what ends up being a dollar store


and turns away, one hand shaking

the tinkle of metal in a closed fist.


You try again to clear the pane.

Huff into the glass:






“How are you?”


Paul W. Hankins (March 2015)



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