Poem Written as Barter for $366.12 in Outstanding Bills




I whittle mud from my boot like anyone else.

I pluck hair from my chin.

I like to have a party

where everyone’s dressed good.


This far from the river

I am not often told take care

or pay your doctor, so of course

you find me here, eating unwashed


things—I think a tooth

can handle that. All I want to win is

the most laughs and never

die. All I want to grow is the


tongue that tricks my neighbor, no

I have not took & burnt your siding

to cook my soups. I am still new to this—

to caring for animal me. I don’t need


to be loved except when I do. Except

when I am walking, because I

pluck up too much from the road

and I need a reader, elsewise only me


sees the stump with a pickaxed middle

and the diner’s accumulated fry-oil,

its guard of nurse-mean wasps, the sun

rubycut in the chrome of a passing truck


loaded with crushed chicken. Listen,

I’m not paying you nothing. I can sing

about an acorn gourd. I think the word opaline

can put bread in your mouth.