The Banker

By Jim Dodge

His smile is like a cold toilet seat.

He shakes my hand as if he’s found it

floating two weeks dead in a slough.

I tell him I need money.

Tons of it.

I want to buy a new Lamborghini,

load it with absinthe and opium,

and hit the trail out of these rainy hills

for a few years in Paris.

I try to explain

I’m at that point in my artistic development

where I require a long period

of opulent reflection.

The banker rifles my wallet.

Examines my mouth.

Chuckles when I offer 20 Miltonic sonnets

as security on the loan.

Now he’s shaking his head, my confidence,

my hand good-bye. “Wait,” I plead,

“I have debts and dreams

my present cash flow can’t possibly sustain.”

“Sorry,” he mumbles, “nothing I can do,”

and staples some papers

in a way that makes me feel

he’d rather nail my tongue to an ant hill.

I stare at him in disbelief.

And under the righteous scathing of my gaze

the banker begins to change form.

First, he becomes a plate of cold french fries

drenched in crankcase oil.

Then a black spot

on a page of Genesis.

Finally, a dung beetle,

rolling little balls of shit

across a desk bigger than my kitchen.

Yet even as I follow these morbid transformations

I never lose sight of his bloated face,

the green, handled skin

shining like rotten meat.

But then his other faces

open to mine:

father, lover, young man, child –

our shared human history

folding us into one.

And only that stops me

from beating him senseless

with a sock full of pennies.

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