For weeks the widower next door
has been blowing piles of leaves,
fresh-fallen leaves heavy with last night’s rains,
his leafblower like the dull bellow of an
echoing through the woods that surround his house.
Before Autumn he was cutting down dead ash trees
with a high-pitched, bewailing chainsaw
all day, every day,
and using a hydraulic splitter
to create pagan mounds of split wood
for a fireplace he did not have.
At night I can see
a flashlight spearing the darkness
as he leads his yappy little dog
out for midnight potty,
the widower following the dog stiffly
as if half-embalmed in his old age;
or I hear his grunts and groans
as he climbs a ladder
in the blind, moonless night
to pull leaves out of his gutters
and toss them into the shadows.
The woods resound with his tearless sorrow.
My grandfather once told me
that I needed to “grow up”;
an old man obsessed with money,
obsessed with little slips of green-colored paper,
with numbers in a computer on a flickering screen
at the bank,
obsessed with stock market reports scrolling across
the bottom of a television feed
while chattering heads speak of
he said I needed to “grow up”
because make-believe slips of paper
were more important than anything else.
Humans do not shed delusions
as we get older,
we only prioritize them,
organize them into concerted conceits
to make us seem “grown up”,
to make ourselves believe that the numbers
are as substantial
as a brick to the face;
and not only does the emperor wear no clothes,
but he is not really an emperor,
no more than the little germ is
that he inhales into his lungs
to grow sick and die
while shamans from all over the country
sing prayers and dance and wail
and the decimal point moves left or right
like a marble between two children
who make-believe the marble to be
the earth rolling between the stars.
The token of our holy creed
bears the seal of our fickle breed
which thereby reads, “In God We Trust”,
and so we must, for boom or bust,
forfeit lives of those sickly few
so the Devil may get his due,
for Mammon is our true god here,
crisis or not, year after year,
and we take less stock in those lives
when the Stock Market yo-yo dives—
the bottom line we must all serve
cares not for flattening the curve,
so live and let die at what rates
the Dow Jones index thus dictates,
projected profits meaning more
than elders hastened to Death’s door.
How complex and twisty
the syntax of Shakespeare,
like a river—misty,
yet running smooth and clear.
He clung to the scant sunlight
of her love in Wintertime,
never letting go so he might
move on to a warmer clime.
“Money doesn’t grow on trees”
they always tell you,
but it can, does, and with ease
if you have enough revenue.
It grows on a complex leaf,
which is to say, legislation
rooted in Conservative belief
to benefit the wealthiest of the nation.
If you inherit enough wealth
and sit on it, year to year,
and if the economic health
of the stock market is without fear
then your dividends will grow
larger and larger, beyond anyone’s need,
so you reap more than you sow
like some inverse Johnny Appleseed.
Some might say the rich stay on top
by being smart and having the “knack”,
but the rich employ the cream of the crop
and insider trading, a Farmer’s Almanac.
And they all have a tax shelter—
arboreal shade on another shore
to weather crises and helter-skelter;
more orchards than the toiling poor.
Like a casino with its
poker chips stacked against you,
it will exchange real money for
1’s and 0’s.
Money that steals itself;
what a 21st century concept.
Out of sight
out of mind
out of wallet.
It is easy to pickpocket
wealth absorbed into the
E-ether, pulling it out of
like a magician pulling a
bit-coin from behind your ear.
It is like lightning
in the Cloud,
and then gone,
but not even thundering out
(even if you are thunderstruck
by the bankruptcy).
How ironic that currency
made of info-dumps
and that can never really change hands
or be lost in the couch
or dropped on the filthy street
should be so dirty
as it zips about from one wire
to the next.
It is the ponzi scheme
dirtier than the pond scum
in Wall Street’s wishing well.
Might as well buy virtual “real” e-state
and see how many tenants
pay for the rent.
I am sure your avatar will eat well
even as you starve.
What a brazen blackmarket
operating in the light of day.
And what good are undercover detectives
when everyone is undercover?
and these victims:
True, we are all complicit in the fraud
that is currency,
for every currency is a magic trick
and we are coerced into believing it
until, like a cult growing toward religion,
illusion enslaves sense
and delusion overmasters reason—
this is something much newer,
more genuine in its fraud.
Electronic currency exists
as current upon the digital byways.
Like your digital girlfriend
in a dating simulator,
it’s real insomuch
as others never ask too many questions
or ask to meet her:
“Trust me. You guys would get along
great together.” It is the same as
“Trust me. It’s as good as in the bank.”
Electronic I.O.U.’s between strangers
divided by time zones and continents.
It seems an experiment
in the Thomas Theorem
to see how much
“real” currency can be purchased
from digital counterfeits:
anything thought to be e-real
is real in its e-consequences.
from the destitution
of your forty million dollar mansion.
Your panhandle is gold-plated
and your soul is a grotesque map of
While poets possess silver tongues,
and millionaires silver spoons,
you are possessed of a silver
with which to pick the pockets of your followers
in one breath
and, in the next,
stab at the nonbelievers and apostates and heretics,
like any ready devil with his pitchfork.
Listen to me:
prosperity gospels impoverish morals.
Faith is fraud at its core,
just as a prostitute is lust at her core,
and bankers are greed,
and judges wrath,
slave owners sloth,
and celebrities vanity.
And so you are the Bingo! of
the Seven Deadly Sins.
You are the celebrity judge
who banks on his slaves
to fall for his preachy thievery, passing
your sentence upon the rest of the world
for not providing the money with which you prostitute your
and feed your Mammonic appetite.
You think yourself a prophet, but see
only a burning money tree, a
pyramid scheme dealing in
“prosperity” which knows no
measurable metric of return,
and no reality.
You are not Moses come again
to lead your people to
the Promised Land; you
are the pharaoh enslaving
your desperate flock to your
You worship Mammon
and excuse yourself
as you build his temple
by sitting Jesus in his own little place
in that conman’s playground:
over in the corner,
next to the ATM,
working the gift shop
and selling absolutions.
Millionaire preacher man
begging for alms like a
whore proffering her
profession; only she has
something of substance to offer,
whereas you offer nothing
but to broadcast yourself so shamelessly
like the Whore of Babylon
or like a conman amidst
his invisible flea circus
and carnival of souls.
But I suppose you have a greater mercy
than Christ ever did, for he
forcefully reprimanded the money-changers
whereas you embrace them as valuable friends.
So much heart, almost as large as
your bank account.
The Bible says to forswear from partaking
of pork, for it is filthy, yet you
readily partake of other people’s piggy banks.
“Crack them open,” you say,
“in the name of Christ;
thou reward awaiteth thee in Heaven.
Thread the needle, slaves,
and stitch with it my
camel hair Persian rug,
for it lieth in such a fabrication
my own salvation
through the eye of that
sleeping bear and raging bull
printed on paper
without any worth
beyond dogma, like prayer
is wind caught in hand
from an angel’s lift—
the flatulent gas passed
from pocket to pocket
and stored covetously
in stygian safes
with elaborate locks
warded by digital dreams.
How dirty these slips
of belief, making rounds,
for wishing fountains.
the modern superstition for which
we enslave and kill and betray
from our mothers
whom we shelf in nursing homes,
to faceless children
on the other side of the world
who die in sweat shops
and diamond mines
to prove our faith in the market
of percentiles and dividends.
Lose not faith
because of the infidel
regulators and socialists,
but kneel down
for the downturn,
and hold your breath
as, once again,
the Spirit rises
and the bubble swells.
Dare the leap of faith
from skyscraper steeples
and their yacht club picnics;
to the donation plates
for the poor
politicians whose wallets
are empty, having misplaced their
and now keenly feeling
the ache of that empty
The one-eyed pyramid
E pluribus unum:
out of many, one
New order of the
In Mammon We Trust.