Saturday, February 7, 2015

Poems about Money Part 1: Playlist for February 6, 2015



by Philip Larkin      

Quarterly, is it, money reproaches me:
    ‘Why do you let me lie here wastefully?
I am all you never had of goods and sex.
    You could get them still by writing a few cheques.’

So I look at others, what they do with theirs:   
    They certainly don’t keep it upstairs.
By now they’ve a second house and car and wife:
    Clearly money has something to do with life

—In fact, they’ve a lot in common, if you enquire:
    You can’t put off being young until you retire,
And however you bank your screw, the money you save
    Won’t in the end buy you more than a shave.

I listen to money singing. It’s like looking down
    From long french windows at a provincial town,   
The slums, the canal, the churches ornate and mad
    In the evening sun. It is intensely sad.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Rage Over a Lost Penny by L. van Beethoven


by Reginald Gibbons
The children are eating lunch at home on a summer weekday when a man comes to the door and asks their mother if she has anything that needs fixing or carrying or any yardwork he can do. They chew their food a little dreamily as, with her back straight and her voice carefully polite, she says No, thank you, I’m sorry, and the man goes away. Who was that, Mama? they say. Oh, no one, she says.
       They are sitting down to dinner but they have to wait because the doorbell rings and a thin young boy begins to tell their father about a Sales Program he’s completing for a scholarship to be Supervisor, and he holds up a filthy tattered little booklet and lifts also his desperate guile and heavily guarded hope, and the children’s father says, No thank you, sorry but I can’t help you out this time, and the boy goes away. The children start to eat and don’t ask anything, because the boy was just a boy, but their father acts irritated and hasty when he sits back down.
      Once a glassy-eyed heavy girl who almost seems asleep as she stands outside their door offers for sale some little handtowels stitched by the blind people at the Lighthouse for the Blind and the children are in the folds of their mother’s full skirt listening to the girl’s small voice and their mother says, Well, I bought some the last time.
      She buys the children school supplies and food, she pays the two boys for mowing the yard together and weeding her flower bed. She gets a new sewing machine for her birthday from the children’s father, and she buys fabric and thread and patterns and makes dresses for the girls, to save money. She tells the children each to put a dime or quarter into the collection plate at Church, and once a month she puts in a little sealed white envelope, and the ushers move slowly along the ends of the pews weaving the baskets through the congregation, and the organist plays a long piece of music.
      Whisk brooms, magazine subscriptions, anything you need hauled away, little league raffle tickets, cookies, chocolate candy, can I do any yard work again and again, hairbrushes, Christmas cards, do you need help with your ironing one time, and more, came calling at the front door while the children were sometimes eating, sometimes playing. Their faces would soften with a kind of comfort in the authority of mother or father, with a kind of wonder at the needy callers.
      Their father left for work every day early, and came home for dinner, and almost always went again on Saturday; in his car. Their mother opened a savings account for each child and into each put the first five dollars. The children felt proud to see their names in the passbooks, and wanted to know when they could take the money out. But they were told they had to save their money not spend it. They felt a kind of pleasure in these mysteries, to know that there were things you would understand later when you grew up and had your own house and while your children were eating their dinner and making too much noise the way you did, you knew it was true, the doorbell would ring, the familiar surprise of it, who would it be, and someone would be holding a little worn book or a bundle of dishtowels or once an old man, but perhaps he only looked old, with his beard, came with bunches of carnations, white, red, and pink, and he too was turned away.    
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Hard Times They Never Go Away by Stephen Foster

 Sex and Taxes

by Kevin Cantwell      

       Plum black & the blush white of an apple
shoulder, melon & cream, in tones to list
       the flesh; in light, washed colors off at last
& textures sheer with damp I slowly pull
       from you with your quick help. Weekend's ample
procrastinations to forget the least
       of what we want to do. April, half a blast
of cold, half new light, green & simple.
       Now dusk. Now fear. We pencil what we owe
on this short form, our numbers good enough.
       The goose-neck glare undoes how we spent the day.
Each bite each bee-sting kiss each bitten O
       all aftertaste. Later, at the drop-off,
       postmark queue, we joke: "Now we can die!"
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Taxman by The Beatles

Money Is Also a Kind of Music

by Jason Guriel
The Wrecking Crew was just the cream of the "you pay — we'll play" LA session pool, that crack squad of 50 or 60 musicians...who played on Pet Sounds and Smile and probably half the records in your collection. They didn't just play the chops. They invented them. — Rob Chapman, MOJO
Money is also a kind of music.
I don't mean the slight sleigh bell
of a pocketed change purse
or an old-time till's single tap
of triangle, ringing
up sale, or even the percussion
of post-pillage coffers filling
up, plink by plink. I think
I mean that current
of classically trained breath
certain amounts of currency
can call forth
and blow through brass.
I mean the mean
current of electricity
Carol Kaye's bass drew
from Capitol Records in the sixties,
the timesheets that took their toll
and exchanged it for
four / four time
kept without fail by the brain
of drummer Hal Blaine,
worth its weight in scale.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: God Only Knows by The Beach Boys

Money Won’t Change It (but time will take you on)

by Cornelius Eady      

You’re rich, lady, hissed the young woman at   
My mother as she bent in her garden.   
Look at what you’ve got, and it was   
Too much, the collards and tomatoes,   
A man, however lousy, taking care   
of the bills.

This was the reason for the early deaths   
My mother was to find from that point on,   
Turned dirt and the mock of roots,
Until finally, she gave her garden up.   
You can’t have nothing, she tells us,
Is the motto of our neighborhood,
These modest houses
That won’t give an inch.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Backlash Blues, sung by Nina Simone


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