Last night I got caught in a sudden severe thunderstorm, and was running through city streets in the rain. I forgot how unbelievably fun that can be. (Well, ok, except this one time – on my birthday some years ago, when we went in to the city to see Mirrormask - it happened, and I lost my flip-flop in a flooded intersection, and so I was sloshing through a foot of probably-typhoidic water with one shoe… that was less fun.)
Also, I recently discovered that we have roof access in our building. I sat up there a good long while (pre-storm) writing, and reading Patti Smith, and watching the sunset. Some excellent ideas in my journal.
But this one is, more or less, for Donna’s Poetry Mix Tape prompt about taking something serious, personifying it, and making it lighthearted. I didn’t get nearly as light as I thought I would – maybe it has a bit of black humor under the surface – and the metaphor is a common one (maybe I’ll follow up with a lighthearted one about trite metaphors), but I think it still works. For the last stanza, I went back and forth on the choice of “manacle” and “hand” for a good twenty minutes; I still feel like something better could have been chosen.
We pass it back and forth like loose change,
nickels softened with caresses and bite marks
to check for silver. And I’ve done my share:
I’ve pressed it into palms and slipped it
underneath tongues, I’ve balanced it upon
closed eyelids and squirreled it away.
It’s a free market with floating currency,
and no one keeps their ledgers. After a while
you’ve committed counterfeit so many times
that you can’t tell anymore who you’ve paid
and who you owe. Every syllable with a face
stamped on the obverse, a heart on the back.
I keep my stash in a leather pouch at my hip
so I can draw out each time it was given,
flip it over my fingers for the memory
spoken in some darkened bedroom or pressed
against a nightclub wall. We decimalise,
we devalue. The market will correct itself.
Eventually, we’ll be rich as Weimar Germans
wheeling our barrows down to the river,
who takes all the four-letter words it can get:
but I’ll save just one. I’ll work it into a manacle
the perfect size to slip into the sentence, “I–
–you“, loop a hand whose shape is yet unknown.