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From the poetry reading at brunnenburg

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Rhett Forman 

 

PAPER MONEY

 

And it’s a good thing too

Cause it’s one thing to have been rich

And to have become poor

And it’s another just to stay that way.

“What depression?” “Is that your Coca-cola?”

“Not mine. Never had a nickel to buy one.”

Flat and caramel, nary a dust speck on it:

            “In the gloom the gold. . .”

“The Great what, Lady Bird?

“We already got a Texas.”

He lit out and scalped ever one of them Jacksonians:

“Let me see your army.”

And so for a hundred and forty years

We had no bank,

And now no one lives

Who ever lived without one.

And it’s a good thing too

Cause Sherman burnt the fields

And all the paper with em,

Paper backed by sovereignty,

Paper backing sovereignty,

Paper which they inflated

Faster’n they spent:

“Greater purchasing power

“For the government.”

“Sounds like witchcraft!” which it was.

And, “Most of Newton’s woiks are on alchemy,” which they were.

            Pendragon : Merlin :: Davis : Elmore

That is, Edward C. Elmore, Treasurer, Confederate States of America.

At my mother’s house in Alabama

A man came by with a metal detector:

            “Order now and it could be yours for 5 easy payments of only $19.99!”

“They started meltin em for bullets.

“Turns out they was worse for shootin

“Than they was for buyin!”

He lit out and scalped ever one of them Jacksonians:

“Let me see your army.”

And so for a hundred and forty years we had no bank,

Just dead Indians.

Representative Samuel “Tripp” Travers, Finance Committee meeting,

North Carolina State Legislature, whatever July 2012:

“Yall gonna ha’ta decide: Is you a business, or is you a go-vern-ment?”

Backhanding the round table with each accent:

“Is you a business, or is you a go-vern-ment?”

Knowing the music of his speech.

And then that black-suited Yankee outta Chiraq

Got up to the mic with the confidence of all the power’n the world

But as unassuming as could be:

“First United National Bank of Illinois

“Would like to extend low-interest, affordable loans

“To the minority community of North Carolina,”

And them that wore Sundy hats nodded,

And them that wore seer-sucker suites guffawed.

And so “Tripp” called him “no better’n a carpet-bagger,” which was true,

But Reverend Beardshaver, ever the opportunist,

With his jerry curls and his oxygen tank

And his abogado from the ACLU,

Recently returned from defending teenage polygamists in Utah

Somewhere between Capitol Reef

And the middle of bum fuck Egypt

Where the only radio is about Indians

Pickin’ shrooms in the park,

Called a press conference just to say,

“He’s a racist.”

And so they moved to Texas,

And it’s a good thing too

Cause it’s better to have no money

But hogs and heifers and peas and watermelons

(“A hog loves a watermelon,” John Reuben’d say.

And so he took ten years of prize money,

Gave it to his elder brother, Maurice, saying,

“Take and eat.”)

Than to have money what kills

Even worse than it buys.