Three Poems By James Reynolds
When it comes to comprehending numbers,
don’t listen to the poets –
if they understood basic math,
they wouldn’t be poets.
Listen to the accountants, instead.
A poet will sing how
13 is an unlucky number
(no feat of the imagination there).
She may even pull out her license
and irrationally rhyme
how some numbers are unethical.
As if ethics applies to math and money.
An accountant will cogently observe
(that no matter what 13 may be)
it is not a big number.
17 is bigger - though still not big.
27, 32, 50, and 59 are big
but no bigger than a modest PR problem.
13 does not make a synagogue a concentration camp.
Especially when 13 is actually 12
because the killer was 1.
The accountant will clarify
that 12 is much smaller than
The poet will protest:
billions is the sound of
outdoor concerts becoming killing fields
and classrooms becoming slaughterhouses.
Poets call those children and concertgoers
An accountant now concerned about the bottom line
will counter that “blood diamonds” is
a misleading and malicious metaphor
manufactured by malcontent poets
to cynically incite the sympathies of simpletons.
There hasn’t been a market for blood diamonds in years.
So children and concertgoers are not blood diamonds.
They aren’t even innocent bystanders –
because they were terrified,
when the shooting started,
and tried to runaway.
If you must name them,
the accountant will conclude that
the children and concertgoers were
coal ash or feathers
or other unavoidable byproducts
of businesses worth billions.
What, the accountant would like to know,
is a poem worth?
A Tiny Voice
Yes, of course,
we, too, care about
a neglected rose struggling to survive
among the scattered bricks
of a crumbling house,
but we’ve already done
all we can.
a child has a tiny voice
and no money –
hardly the sturdy platform
on which to make demands.
Yet here she stands
with her small voice,
empty pockets, and
while we continue to tell her
to trust the spider
he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
I lack imagination,
which is a problem
when you pretend
to be a poet.
But no matter
how hard I try
I cannot imagine
myself doing it.
Yet, some scientists say
there are limitless
in one of them
one of me
tackled the beast -
if only to spite
those multiples of me
sitting in stalled trains
on parallel tracks.
How I would love