Money Poems

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Belle Lorton inherited five million
when her father passed away
and at forty-two was ripe for love
which Swan gave her for cash,
although Lorton didn’t see it that way.
Now she blossomed with a big belly.
and knitted for the baby
which would soon emerge from her being
and be with her whether or not Swan joined them.
Then one day this guy with one arm
strolled into the Teacher’s Center,
tall, very thin, with brilliant blonde hair.
When he smiled the two front teeth
gleamed with gold caps.
I had never seen him before.
“My name is Barlow Woodhead.
I’ll be taking over Estelle Salz’s program.”
“What happened to her? ” asked Van Allen.
“Don’t know. The district office sent me.”
Two weeks later Kenna saw Barlow and Swan
kissing in the fifth floor bathroom.
As it turned out this Woodhead
also was loaded,
apparently he received a whopping settlement
in lieu of his right arm
which was sliced off in his previous job
at a sardine factory on the West Coast.
Why he needed to teach I don’t know.
Felix Zellermeyer, who gave me the information,
didn’t say, and I didn’t ask.
Nor did I inquire how Felix got the information.
When Lorton heard the news she laughed.
Van Allen stared at her.
Swan started wearing expensive clothing.
I knew the price of the stuff
because of my subscription to GQ magazine.
Like a pair of $450 jeans, a $320 silk shirt.
The shoes were some poor animal,
alligator, or lizard, perhaps rattlesnake,
a creature I couldn’t readily identify,
but they had to be at least $1,300.
I figured he was now getting cash
from both Lorton and Barlow.
Where this triangle would end up
I couldn’t imagine.
Van Allen stayed away from Swan.
He felt a positive aversion to the man.
“They’re all adults, ” I said.
“Bernstein, don’t gimme crap.
The man is evil. Evil.
No other word.
And the Almighty takes care of them
that are evil,
not maybe in the next second
but soon, sooner than you think.”
Van Allen was wrong, in this case.
Swan quit in May,
didn’t even finish out the term.
Apparently he had wangled as much money as he needed
or thought he could get.
Barlow, however, being a responsible chap,
finished out the term,
then went back to the West Coast.
How much of his money he had left
I didn’t know,
but Felix Zellermeyer who went with him
said before leaving, “Enough.”
Lorton was well into her seventh month,
and smiling all the time now.
Whatever it was she gave Swan
apparently was well worth it.
Van Allen said solemnly,
“I’ll wait for what’s gonna transpire.”
“You hint at retribution to visit Swan, ” said Kenna,
“but the man’s rich now, I guess.
Got it by fornication,
with a woman, with a man…”
Suddenly, Kenna began laughing,
heartily, without restraint.
Finally he mumbled something
I couldn’t make out.
Then he resumed guffawing.
I joined in
somehow caught up in Kenna’s merriment.
Van Allen merely stared at us,
at last sighing,
“All laughter...slain.”

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