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Head’s Up: A Poetry Column By Philip Appleman


“I should have received mine own with interest.”

                                                                               – Matthew 25:27

The love of money is the root,

the branch, the flower—so

why don’t we ever write poems

about money?

Is it because we’re just

too good for this world, counting

our delicate heartbeats out at the edge

of everyone else’s reality,

our sensitive psyches never fed

by the Fed, our Tao out of sync

with the Dow, in the midst of rallies,

all of us bearish on bulls?

Or is it because they’re already

writing their own poems, those canny

can-do capitalists, brokers and bankers all busily

locking in yields,

pumping new blood into partnerships,

watching the markets peak and bottom out,

sheltering windfalls, letting their profits run,

cutting their losses,

beefing up capital, funneling cash

into balanced portfolios?

Down here in the daffodils,

who’s counting? Could we ever

achieve an emotional high

at a boost in the prime rate?

Or could we go broke again

and convince our down-side lovers

it was only negative cash flow?

No poems except

in passion: the brokers keep asking,

is her smile worth three points

up front? Will the bougainvillea

turn a profit this quarter?

Are those gentle fingertips

economically viable?

And the sonnets keep whispering: Poets,


where your treasure is,

there will your songs be also.

From Karma, Dharma, Pudding & Pie

© Philip Appleman.

Philip Appleman is a Dis­tinguished Pro­fessor Emeri­tus at In­dia­na Uni­ver­si­ty. He is editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Darwin. He and his playwright wife, Marjorie Appleman, are both “After-Life” Members of FFRF. Phil’s books: