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.