IOU: New Writing on Money

I just got a free book from Concord Free Press, which touts its new publishing model as "generosity-based publishing." You ask for a free book and agree to donate money (unspecified amount) to any charity or person of your choosing. They report having raised more than $134,000 for worthy causes so far. How they're funded is a mystery, as is who's behind the scenes, how books are selected, etc. Most intriguing.

Naturally, as a poet and a fundraiser and a one-time accountant, I'm interested in this new model, and so I selected a literary book about money as my first free book. Some good poems on the topic surprised me: Denise Duhamel's "Loaded," Ruth Ellen Kocher's "Professor Lacy N. Igga Looks Up the Word Parasomnia," and Hailey Leithauser's "Having Discovered a Windfall by the Side of the Road, the Cautious Miser Is Visited by the Angel of Profligacy" (which should win a prize for the title alone).

I've written a few poems on money, but found it a tough topic for poetry. Here's mine, first published in qarrtsiluni:


A pip, a tip, once a minute
of parking, its worth snipped,
a coin less in diameter or value
than a nickel yet brighter, warm sun
to a five-cent moon — so how did it roll
down to ground level, flat
disc lying unretrieved on streets,
forlorn beside the parking meters
it can no longer feed?

I’m penny-wise and foolish
about artifacts, keep penny bowls
on bookshelves, as if the penny and I, now middle-
aged, had grown up in the same town,
walked the same streets, rolled to the beach
on Saturdays. The cent has diminished
though not dimmed, while I’ve dimmed
and enlarged my diameter.
It’s natural between old friends, the change
of places. We might be change
made from the same register,
sad breakdowns of a haughty dime
taxed to the minutest, rendered
and reckoned as beyond Caesar’s interest, left
to the heart’s differently hued
apportion and shine.