Quarantining has turned poetry readings into Zoom events -- and that brought Pennsylvania poet Barbara Crooker to my computer a couple of weeks ago via a reading sponsored by The Word Works.. A delight for me to reconnect with someone whom I knew from my years in Bloomsburg. Barbara -- who is a very fine poet one whose work has often appeared on The Writer's Almanac -- has given me permission to share the following mathy poem (found in her collection, Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series, 2019).
Principles of Accounting by Barbara Crooker
Nearly summer, and the trees are banking on green,
calculating their bonuses in numerators of leaves.
Outside my window, the crows are ganging up
on someone, thugs in their hoodies of night.
I'm feeling the number of days begin to feel finite,
no longer uncountable as blades of grass.
So I'm rounding off clouds to the nearest
decade; tabulating interest from the sweetness
in the air. I'm going for broke, in the time
remaining, like the mockingbird letting loose
his vocals, a Fort Knox of sound.
I'm going to spend it all.
Not like our legislature, who can't pass
a budget, letting one year roll into the next,
while schools and social services borrow
to pay their providers, leaving even less
in the diminishing pot for those
who need it the most. Road repair, bridges,
pre-K? Not sustainable, say the fat cats,
lapping up their cream. For the rest of us,
the dice are rigged, the loopholes big enough
to drive a camel through. From this distance,
the older I get, the closer I see the hand basket
coming. So let me lean back in this red Adirondack
chair as dusk makes us all equal, happy for the blend
of herbs and gin, pure sapphire, the dividend of olive
at the end. Here comes the night, nothing
we can do to stop it, except tote up the stars
on a ledger sheet, and put every last one of them
in the plus column. . . .
from Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series (University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press, 2019)