More Money than God
my father said, again and again, shaking his head
in disbelief at any ostentation; the neighbor’s gold-
plated knocker (we still banged fists) or my own lust
to own the seductive canvas or the waxed bronze bust.
It is not only the idea—which should hold all the pleasure—
but the poet’s pencil marks on paper which we treasure
above the memorized poem. And so I fan my flushed face,
signaling the fast-talking auctioneer, who has traced
the provenance, and picks up the pace, multiplying offers.
And who now does my father’s bidding? Heaven’s coffers,
perhaps, are for the destitute; but why did he have to die
to escape the shitty crime-ridden, never-to-be-gentrified
neighborhood of both our births? The cost of living,
he would argue, is not the worth of being alive.
But still he checked each lottery ticket which littered
the empty lot next door, praised their silver latex glitter,
praying to the beautiful unscratched, like little gods.
Money talks, he taught me. But nobody beats the odds.
"More Money than God" from More Money than God, by Richard Michelson, © 2015. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.