PROMPT # 344 – NEITHER A BORROWER NOR A LENDER BE

William Shakespeare had written that quote in the title. Consider these other quotes:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; ~William Shakespeare

Jazz has borrowed from other genres of music and also has lent itself to other genres of music. ~Herbie Hancock

Sunlight fell upon the wall; the wall received a borrowed splendor. ~Rumi

You notice the pattern here. We are borrowing and lending. In any machination of these terms, write your poem. We’re looking at a borrow poem, or a lend poem. In another vein, write a poem that borrows something from another poem, song or art form. Or you can lend a line or phrase out for someone to use in their work. The way we share our words here, being either a borrower or a lender can be a very good thing.

MARIE’S SILLY STAB:

Borrowing Trouble?

She went to the library
to choose a scary book
and she shook
as she read all alone in her bed
with her light brightly lit,
and she wanted to quit
but she couldn’t,
and wouldn’t you know
that the inflow of fright
lasted into the night.

Lesson learned,
she returned the book,
then borrowed her sister
to sleep with her.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

WALT’S PIECE:

BEG, BORROW AND STEAL

Please, don’t make me ask again,
don’t make me beg and plead.
I need you as a lover, a friend.
Please, don’t make me ask again.
Those mixed signals that you send
won’t fulfill my needs.
Please, don’t make me ask again,
don’t make me beg and plead.

I don’t want to borrow your heart,
I know I’ll need it for a while,
as I have right from the start,
I don’t want to borrow your heart.
I’ve been hit by cupid’s dart,
launched from your sweet smile.
I don’t want to borrow your heart,
I know I’ll need it for a while.

But if I must, I’ll steal it,
that fact is undeniable.
and when it’s gone, you’ll feel it,
But if I must, I’ll steal it.
I hope you won’t repeal it,
my love is quite reliable.
But if I must, I’ll steal it,
That fact is undeniable.

© Walter  J Wojtanik

263 thoughts on “PROMPT # 344 – NEITHER A BORROWER NOR A LENDER BE

  1. THE FINANCE OF ROMANCE

    Lend me the soft silk of your lips,
    and you may borrow mine.

    Lend me the sweet milk of your eyes,
    for we dwell within borrowed time.

    Lend me the summery scent of your dress,
    and I will set you free.

    Lend me the magic spell of your touch,
    and I will give you the key.

    Lend me the glamorous diamond of your heart,
    and I will pay its fee.

    Lend me the holy truth of your love,
    and I will be indebted for all eternity.

    Benjamin Thomas

  2. A SLANT ON THE LITURGICAL YEAR

    Cynics
    think a whole year
    of borrowing trouble
    is rendered moot and free and clear
    at Lent.

  3. A SURVIVOR’S COUNSEL

    A penny for your thoughts?
    And a few more for a pint of wit?
    Quarter of a dollar for the wisdom at hand?
    Please lend a barrel of laughs as a gift?

    That’s all a lad would need to survive the day,
    to meet its haughty demand,
    for without it—as they say, “lend a hand”
    or his end would be swift.

    Benjamin Thomas

  4. TRUST IS A RARE COMMODITY

    Trust is a rare commodity,
    lean, and precious.

    Like the pure weight of gold,
    refined, and indestructible.

    When lent, it has a high
    heavenly interest rate.

    However, when its borrower
    is unable to pay its dues…

    It descends to the lowest hell,
    although it is still pure.

    Until those who are worthy—
    can mine the precious yet again.

    It remains lost, hidden amidst
    the deep layers of the earth.

    Benjamin Thomas

  5. Ma, will you zip my dress, please…

    I never thought
    One thing I would miss
    Is a dress with zippers
    When Ma died…

    But I do.

    Many a morning
    As I was getting ready for work,
    She would say,
    “Let me zip you up.”
    I would smile
    At such a simple ritual.

    Soon after she died,
    I realized I couldn’t wear
    My dresses with zipper.
    I loved those dresses.
    But they found their way
    To places where women
    Who could either zip their own dresses,
    Or had someone who could help.

    As I looked last week
    To find a pretty dress…
    I needed something to cheer me,
    And I gave up trying
    For there were no dresses
    I liked to be found
    Except those with zippers.
    It just added to the daily loss
    And reminded me that I was alone.

    But that memory was sweet
    Like the taste of cinnamon toast
    With a touch of bitterness
    As if too much cinnamon was sprinkled.
    For I could hear Ma say as she finished
    Zipping my dress,
    “I wish you wouldn’t wear that dress.”
    She never approved of my clothes.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 25, 2021

  6. Near Saints

    After I was away for a month
    we’re still barely speaking,
    this friend, a bartender,
    and I. When we met
    somewhere else,
    she invited me
    to see her at this bar.
    Today she gives me
    a big Hi, and I wonder
    if it’s habit or true.
    Another bartender lends
    an ear, and we make small talk
    about her time in community
    college, and my book sales
    while my friend flirts
    with well-tipping patrons
    at the bar. Before I know
    the moment’s gone. On other
    days I was able to borrow her time,
    as we talked about virtue and professed affection
    even love.
    Lives shared over my drink
    offered a tender glow,
    the times when she’d ask
    me back again. Now I dig
    through imperfections
    to see the beauty I once saw
    before a misunderstanding
    set us apart.
    She’s slipped into the back room,
    both of us hurting,
    while light shines on a bottle of liquor
    glimmering gold.

  7. Sources

    Growing up in
    a village not big
    enough for an inc.,
    a mere 1500 souls
    until summer when
    the city folks arrived,
    my family and another
    with the IGA store,
    fresh produce,
    can prices marked
    with a black grease pencil,
    and an honest to god
    butcher counter.
    No ATM’s then,
    so we were sometimes
    a bank for the locals,
    let them borrow five bucks
    until payday.
    I lent a hand everywhere
    in that store,
    and my folks said I should
    work with the butcher,
    learn to cut and chop and grind,
    so I could pay my way
    without borrowing
    when college time arrived,
    but I couldn’t embrace the blood.
    Instead, I shared my food skills
    making potato salads and
    baked beans and cole slaw,
    sometimes a mixed vegetable dish.
    Served me well as an adult,
    growing gardens, canning, freezing,
    drying, no blood involved.
    Somehow got through college.
    Don’t owe anyone anything now.
    Well, there’s the mortgage, and
    the car payment, but
    I’m still cooking just fine.

  8. Borrowing from Macbeth

    Life is a tale told by an idiot, full
    of sound and fury…Macbeth

    I stop at the next words signifying
    nothing
    hear my heels skid
    feel the flake of rubber as they dig in

    I get the ‘sound and fury’, every hour,
    sometimes every minute almost
    empathize with Macbeth but then

    I have to question:
    is all for nothing?
    is the battle simply futile exercise

    jousting with different weapons
    different people or is it
    just the distillation of eking out a Life?

    sound and fury hurtling opportunities
    manic rushing into so much so many
    the fury of passion overwhelming

    until it turns to crash and shatters into
    that Nothing blood and tears
    and yet I balk a bit at his idea of idiot

    yet are born into a fierce world
    seemingly at the toss of dice our
    circumstance odds tilted the game rigged

    how we have to learn to love
    learn faces the meaning of a smile
    the meaning of words a caress

    mine the very beating of our own heart’s
    thud when loved or hated real sound
    and fury nature nurture cause effect

    guts and glory and Shakespeare
    seeing it all and daring to pen what he saw
    frame it in poetry and play but deliver

    up the idiot his words something
    we come back to another bible seeking
    from his nothing, something: ourselves.

  9. The Wooden Hangers…

    I remember it was a long while
    Before Ma parted with Da’s suits
    Until one day she let them go,
    But kept the wooded hangers-
    A closet rod with various sizes of wooden hangers…

    Some simple and close to a century old,
    Others with a place for Da’s pants.
    Some marked with a business brand.
    Those businesses are no more,
    But here hangs a wooden hanger
    That says they were a place
    Where men bought the best suits.

    Except Ma bought Da’s suits, and
    She bought her man
    Nice suits…
    She knew he would never pick out
    The one that made his dark skin,
    His blue eyes, and
    His dark wavy hair oiled
    With Vitalis shine like they should.
    She took me shopping for those suits.
    She was fussy with the salesman,
    Telling him exactly what she wanted.

    They are gone those suits.
    She gave them away.

    I borrow those wooden hangers
    Sometimes
    And remember the rows
    Of suits my father wore,
    And the ties worn-
    Hung loosely with the right suit.

    Sometimes,
    I think I should pass them onward
    To some man who wears
    Nice suits, and
    Maybe they would not be hanging
    So lonely…

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 25, 2021

  10. Earl, your spot-on 5/7/5 piece inspired me.

    But the gift of God
    is eternal life in Christ.
    Not a loan. A gift.

    … and I love it when scripture passages fit perfectly into my syllable count limitations. 🙂

  11. I’m excited about this prompt and will hopefully be able to add something this week. The first few weeks of grad school have been kicking my butt, and I have had zero energy for anything outside of work and school and basic survival lol but I’ve been popping on here to read occasionally.

    Walt, you keep coming up with fantastic prompts (and poems to go with them)! And Marie, quiet library aisles and late-night reading is right where my mind went when I first saw the prompt. Your offering is very sweet, I love the last stanza. I used to have my baby sister sleep with me some nights to make us both a little more at ease

    • Erin! Good to see you!

      Thank you for the kind words. My granddaughters (7 and 10) are at this age. The 10-year-old wants to read books and see movies that are too frightening for her. Then she invites her little sister to sleep with her. She doesn’t say it is because she is too scared to sleep alone. She makes it seem like she is just being a sweet and generous big sister. Cracks me up!

      Grad school! Woohoo! Go you! BUT make sure you get enough R&R. I totally understand not having room in your head to write right now. We’ll take your amazing words whenever we can get them!

      • Oooooh, Erin! You Go Girl!! You can do this…. don’t think of it as something new, but simply the top of a ladder with all the rungs below what you ALREADY know! It’s kind of a stretch and polish– but you can do this. Don’t go beyond the moment, the assignments, the professors. It’s all a process, to hone your skills and getting in was the hardest part. I have done this round multiple times/multiple degrees/ so please know I’ve been there and lean on us, your writing community. We’re here for you, and cheering loudly!!

    • I look forward to any poem you share with us… as for your studies… I Get that totally… I have found writing a historical novel series is full of study and cross checking…I am pulling for you…

  12. MY FATHER’S PENS

    A great lover of crossword puzzles
    And leaving his newspapers all around
    I found
    Great piles of his pens
    Here and there
    Using them with flair
    To write poems
    To scratch out notes
    Make grocery lists
    Throw in my purse
    In a swift toss
    As I went out the door
    Until one day
    Hearing my name
    Louder than usual
    He demanded I return every pen
    I had haplessly borrowed
    Because he had not
    In truth
    Lent me any of them
    Most especially not his absolute favorite
    As I emptied my bag
    I chose
    What I thought must be
    His very favorite pen
    I was wrong on every single one
    But, of course, the last one
    Which he treasured
    And with his quick choice
    And gentler voice
    He happily gave me all the others
    He would
    Could
    Spare
    Or share
    Telling me to do something
    Wonderful and productive with them
    Like go write a book
    He promised he’d take a look
    But please he said,
    ‘Leave this one special pen alone!’
    Happy we understood each other
    I have been writing ever since
    Wondering how many of my pens
    Are actually his pens
    To this day

    (c) Janet Rice Carnahan 2021

  13. Enjoyed both your poems today, Walt and Marie. Marie, I could totally relate. My younger sister borrowed me to sleep with when she was little and didn’t feel well. Turns out she gave me the measles, too. Nice of her to lend me the red spots! 🙂 Love is such a great topic for lending, borrowing and stealing a heart, Walt. So much richness there.

    There once was an apple named Gus
    He was the very best of us,
    A worm borrowed his juice,
    Cutting his green stem loose,
    Lending it to others who did nothing but fuss.

    There once was a glove named Holly
    She and her partner were happy and jolly,
    They enjoyed lending a hand,
    Borrowing they couldn’t stand,
    They found it to be a waste and pure folly.

    There once was a giant peach tree,
    Producing peaches aplenty for free,
    The family next door,
    Climbed the fence to borrow some more,
    After the peach family offered more than three.

    (c) Janet Rice Carnahan 2021

  14. A question?

    If I lend to you
    My choice
    So that it matches
    Everyone else’s choice…
    Is it my choice still…
    Or is it yours?

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 25, 2021

  15. Mary’s fun piece, “A Question?” made me think of a poem I wrote back in 2006. Here it is:

    Origin of Thought

    My thoughts I think are my thoughts, I think.
    I think my thoughts are mine.
    If others thought of my thoughts first,
    Well, I think that’s just fine.

    My thoughts I think are my thoughts, I think.
    If others think them too,
    That doesn’t make them not my thoughts.
    At least, I think that’s true.

    My thoughts I think are my thoughts, I think.
    And I think it’s insane
    To spend a nanosecond more
    Just to ascertain.

    (c) Marie Elena Good, 2006

  16. LENDED LIGHT

    Out of the myriad of stars
    in the universe

    There’s only one brilliance that lends
    its glory to the warmth of our sensibilities.

    Whose iris-rays rain
    down storms of braided yellow streams.

    There’s only one
    that tickles the eyes with majestic brightness.

    Whose lended light
    enables us to perceive the invisible things.

    Whose rapid flight of golden eagles
    descend against the shadowed foes of darkness.

    Whose lended light
    imbues us with a charismatic burst of color.

    There’s only one
    whose bounding rays sink skin deep like no other.

    That happily creep
    into the sensibilities of nerve and brain.

    That ignites
    and allows the torch of beloved memories to remain.

    Benjamin Thomas

  17. MORNING KISS

    This morning,
    the sun is on my lips—
    as it tries to kiss me.

    It tries to lend me
    a brilliant smile—many, many,
    miles away.

    I think I may,
    for I know the darkness—
    and often feel this way.

    It attempts to thaw,
    an old, cold, heart—
    frozen, and bitter.

    But the sun is still on my lips,
    as cheering wine—
    seeking to enter, and have its way.

    As the kiss deepens,
    I hear whispers of today—my prior convictions,
    simply just fade away.

    Benjamin Thomas

  18. Let me borrow your days….

    Our days are shorter
    Than when we met
    In the springtime of our lives…
    It is autumn and leaves are falling,
    But the air is crisp and clear,
    And the moon is in its harvest,
    Big and golden on a star filled night.
    The days are filled
    With billowing clouds of white,
    And skies so blue they sing joyfully.
    I want to sing with them,
    And one day sing me out,
    But until then
    My life is filled with days…
    A cup, a simple ordinary cup,
    Each dawn, as I wake,
    Is handed to me
    To fill up
    By the strike of midnight,
    And if I could,
    I would like to bring that cup
    To borrow some of those days
    From you, and I will lend you
    Some of mine.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 26, 2021

  19. BANKRUPT

    Let me borrow your bones,
    for mine are frail and fractured.

    Let me borrow your home,
    for mine is scant and broken.

    Let me borrow your key to peace,
    for a heart imprisoned, protracted.

    Let me borrow an anchor released,
    for a life unbridled, adrift, untethered.

    Let me borrow—
    for I am bankrupt, and empty handed.

    Benjamin Thomas

  20. LENDING MERCY’S WINGS

    There is nothing,
    like star-born comfort.

    When all else fails,
    the sun still rises in the east.

    Ascending like a raging Phoenix,
    arising from the black sea of night.

    There is no greater friend,
    than the out-bellow frays of light.

    There is no greater kin,
    than he who rises high in the east.

    There is no greater wind,
    than fulgid, star strewn breezes.

    Who lends the might of mercy’s wings,
    gladly feasts on foe and blight.

    Benjamin Thomas

  21. Who Wins In The Game Of Give And Take?

    If I could borrow
    your charisma
    for a day, I would
    gauge my success
    by the faces I had
    beguiled.

    In return, I would
    agree to lend you
    a day’s worth of
    brains, just so
    you could know
    what they are.

  22. TODAY IS SUFFICIENT

    We cannot borrow from tomorrow’s rains
    to drown today’s sorrow.

    We cannot borrow from tomorrow’s pain
    for the today is sufficient of itself.

    We cannot borrow from tomorrow’s rays
    for today is its tilted shadow.

    We cannot borrow from tomorrow’s ways
    for we can’t fathom a song of the unknown.

    We cannot borrow from tomorrow’s ink
    for that day is a mystery—unread, forbidden.

    Benjamin Thomas

    • WOW!!!!!!! I came to a hard stop on your first point. I read it 5; maybe 6 times before moving on. I could have done so with each. Creatively, poetically penned points to ponder. Just, wow …

    • huge smile…. I did a lenten paper on I Corinthian Chapter 13 in 2015 ( I was a double major in college in Behavioral Science and Bible and it is a way to keep those skills alive) IT is about 50 pages long… The last verse bugged me for years until one day I realized why love is the greatest… because it can only be given in the present, and this written by my father…”January 18, 1977 by Joseph Archer Todd, Sr.
      Every man stands somewhere between a beginning and an ending. Today adequately defines the past where we live between the two infinitives. For those who schedule their future maybe continually waiting for tomorrows actions; while those who continually dwell in the retrospect lust after “Never to be again”, such can only lead us astray. If we achieve our goals, we must do it today. Each day becomes a renewal, a new beginning, the rest of our lives. If one lives as a Christian, he will sooner or later realize that one begins eternal life the moment he accepts Jesus Christ as his savior. He does not have to die. One lives only for a short time in the measure of the flesh, eventually to return to dust. The soul lives only in Jesus Christ.” I found that 21 years later on my brother Gary’s funeral.

      This poem touched me deeply… thank you…

  23. On The Road Still

    On the road again, I can’t wait to get on the road again. – Willie Nelson

    Going places I’ve already been
    Seeing faces I hope to see again
    Except for going through Chicago
    I can’t wait to get on the road again.

    Great to meet you in person, Marie!

  24. Ekphrastic Love

    If
    a
    picture
    is worth a
    thousand words, then he
    shall borrow all that he can to
    describe the beauty he sees while gazing upon her.

    In turn, he will lend her his eyes so she can see her
    -self as the beauty that she is,
    to see her full worth.
    Their true love
    is give
    and
    give.

  25. MORNING STRUGGLES

    Could you lend me cane?
    For this mind is faltering
    and sick.

    May I borrow a bottle of tranquility?
    When the alarm bells
    tick?

    Please do lend me a spring?
    To get things going—
    and evacuate this bed.

    May I borrow a doppelgänger?
    To live for me
    instead?

    Benjamin Thomas

  26. Borrowing from my Bankrupted Heart…

    As the thunder roared
    Across the midnight sky,
    And only flashes
    Exposed who was
    Standing at my door…

    The last few weeks
    Had battered me
    Laying bare my life…
    But few knew it
    Or had time
    To hear me speak,
    But I did not know
    How to say…
    As I borrowed
    From my bankrupt heart.

    I knew who was standing there
    Waiting for me to open
    That door, I only opened
    When my heart cried.
    Between us laid
    The depth of love,
    And a river of unforgiveness
    That separated us.

    As the bills, and
    Responsibilities,
    And chastising
    I had endured,
    Forever the bad guy
    And never the hero.
    I felt the weight of her words,
    “Lend me your money;
    I will pay you back,”
    And Ma looked at me,
    And firmly spoke,
    “Do not tell them.
    It is you who is giving it.”

    I never was paid back
    They never knew
    It was me,
    And it didn’t matter
    Most of the time,
    Until I went hungry,
    And went cold.

    This is not about
    Remembering the hurt,
    Except to forgive
    You must remember
    To let it go.
    At least it is
    The way with me.

    I am standing at this river,
    Knowing in her last words
    She told me she loved me,
    And once she said,
    “I am sorry that I did you wrong.”
    Ma with tears in her eyes said,
    “You can leave if you want.”
    But I knew that I couldn’t and said,
    “I am here until you no longer need me.”

    She needs me to do one more thing,
    And to do that I must go
    And borrow from my bankrupted heart,
    Reaching deep within it,
    And cross that river,
    And open that door,
    To give her my forgiveness.

    I heard the steady tapping of her soul,
    And I stopped to listen,
    “Ma,” I said as I heard my heart beat faster,
    “This is not easy for me to do,
    Because it is easier to cling to a raft of pain,
    Than to let go and swim to the other side,”
    I took a deep breath, and said before I plunged in,
    “But I will do it.”
    I heard her chuckled for she knew her determined daughter.

    As I climbed upon a shore, I had touched
    But not walked on its flawless beauty,
    I whispered, “Ma, I forgive you.
    I will let this pain go.”
    And though we can no longer touch each other,
    I felt her hand pat mine.
    I smiled and said, “I love you.”
    I heard her laugh and knew her eyes were dancing,
    As she said what she often said
    When I told her that I loved her,
    “You better.”
    And the tears that fell
    Were sweet like a spring rain,
    And no longer bitter.

    My bankrupted heart
    Was full again, and
    I knew no matter what
    This determined warrior child,
    Would find a way
    To keep going.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 27, 2021

  27. LEND ME A HAND

    I saw my inner child,
    charred and dressed in embers.
    He was fresh from the flames,
    consumed and black with ashes—
    overcooked, carcinogenic.

    He sat with his knees
    pulled close to his chest,
    and he didn’t look at me.
    His eyes were stoic, remote
    and red-rimmed with fear.

    I didn’t find any moist tears,
    the flames did their work—
    as faithful and absolute
    servants to their cause,
    they didn’t waver or disappoint.

    He was overwhelmed with silence,
    but he spoke with grief—
    fluent and elegant like a swan
    that moved in his element,
    hidden, deadening pain underneath.

    He didn’t break the sacred stillness,
    but I knew his heartbeat;
    it still moved with grace
    in the space that it was given,
    slow and steady like a drum.

    His scent was a mist of misery,
    emanating smoke over his head;
    sharp and pungent, like the smell
    of forbidden cooked flesh—
    the sacrifice of anger and ill will.

    His didn’t speak a word,
    nor did his lips move an inch,
    but he wrote deeply on my heart
    a simple question—
    can you lend me a hand?

    Benjamin Thomas

    • I love this and I understand… I don’t like pictures of myself, because my eyes always show a sadness that never goes away…it is like that child within is haunted and lost…

      • Thanks Mary. I used to be like that too when I look in the mirror. Not so much now, but it hasn’t gone away completely. I had a distinct realization yesterday about my inner child that is depicted in this poem. Thanks for sharing.

  28. MALICIOUS LENDER

    Their love was on loan
    and not a gift—

    It was maliciously lent,
    generously.

    Then spent on the faith
    of repayment.

    In retrospect, we should’ve
    read the small print.

    Love, kindness, and respect
    came at a high price.

    Its interest rate was steep,
    and cruel like a drop off of a cliff.

    All the pockets were empty,
    and so the fall was swift.

    There was no grace—
    period for the ungodly sum due.

    When love is on loan, and not a gift,
    what is one to do?

    Benjamin Thomas

    • Not sure what happened, Mary. There were actually 10 copies that showed up. They were not even in spam, they were in trash. Makes zero sense. Sometimes I wonder about the workings of the internet. Sheesh.

  29. Borrowing from Peter to Pay Paul…

    I get tired of having to wait
    Until I have money to repair things…
    The decks need to be rebuilt,
    The roof needs replaced,
    My dishwater’s broke
    My dryer fixed in January
    Decided to quit,
    My oven’s broke
    (But I have a toaster oven,)
    The dentist gave me a big bill,
    I do have two ceiling fans
    Just need to get them in place,
    And my car has a huge scratch
    (The other guys’ insurance will pay for that,)
    And I need new glasses, and
    My iron levels are dropping,
    And I wish I had a monitor
    To keep track before it gets bad,
    And I am borrowing from Peter,
    And suspect if things don’t change,
    I will be robbing him soon
    To pay Paul….

    Yesterday I was at the end of my rope
    And called to pay my electricity bill…
    The computer repeated by bill twice,
    And asked if I wanted to pay it.
    I knew I had to pay it, I said yes,
    And it said, “You owe five thousand,
    But all we can accept is one thousand.”
    It was off about nearly the five thousand,
    And said, “NO, I want to talk to a human.”
    I began to laugh at the flub,
    And knew somehow
    All the things I needed, and owed
    Would be paid, and I needed
    To stop worrying about Peter and Paul,
    As I was laughing, I told the human
    That their computer was polite,
    But apparently running a scam.
    As I paid my bill, I said,
    “I hoped his week goes well.”
    Mine was much better
    For the laughter.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 28, 2021

      • I post on fB some conversations… usually with a cat, but I posted my conversation with the computer…
        Conversation with the Duke Energy Computer yesterday
        Computer: Are you connected to 226.
        ME: Yes
        Computer: Okay give me your account number
        Me: I gave the account number.
        Computer: is that a two?
        Me: there is no two in the 12 numbers I gave it. I said, NO
        Computer: Okay could you give me the account number again.
        Me: I gave numbers much slower.
        Computer: Okay, your balance is (and he gave me the amount) and he gave me the number and for some reason he said that amount again. Do you wish to pay it?
        Me: yes
        Computer: the total is $5000 and we can only accept $1000 at a time. Do you want to pay?
        ME: No I want a human.
        Computer: Oh, I will connect you with someone.
        The someone came on and I told him of their computer and suggested to him though very polite the computer maybe running a scam… He gave me the correct amount though it took three tries to get it to take…
        I was laughing hard at the unreal amount it was saying I owed… I wrote about it in my last poem…

  30. LEND ME THE KEY

    The darkness had breath,
    like stealth, it lived and moved—alive as I.

    My step, his step,
    his step, my step—the same as I.

    Umbrageous at his presence,
    with disgust—yet I could not deny.

    His stench was outrageous,
    unbearable—but I did not know why.

    Chained with bloody shackles,
    weighed down by shadows crept.

    I wept with bitter agony, grief—
    as relief just passed me by.

    But when I wept, he wept,
    when he wept, I wept—the same as I?

    Truth can be cruel, its secret no longer kept,
    chained like a beast—he was me, and he was I.

    Benjamin Thomas

  31. Give a Penny, Take a Penny

    On a trip back to Maine not so many years ago
    I happened to stop at a small country store
    Just off the Interstate and to the left
    Somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania
    I don’t remember the exit number

    I pulled up to the old fashioned gas pump
    But before I could get out I was surprised by
    An excited young gas pump attendant
    Asking “Regular or Premium, Sir?!”
    “Regular,” I said, “and fill it up please.”
    He smiled as he tried to locate my gas cap
    I snickered and pointed to it, then went in

    As I entered the store I was taken back in time
    This place was so much like the country store
    I practically lived in while growing up in Maine
    That store was owned by my best friend’s dad
    This store brought so many memories rushing back

    The man behind the counter welcomed me
    With a smile and a nod that made me feel at home
    I smiled back and commented on how nice it was
    That there were still old fashioned country stores
    He said his was one of the last in the state
    That brought a moment of sadness to my heart

    As I looked around the store I began to gather up
    This and that for the next leg of my journey
    Things that only country stores are known for
    Like home-made sandwiches and fresh brownies
    Pickled eggs and quart jug of locally brewed tea
    Déjà vu was overtaking me

    The young gas pumper came in to let me know
    He has filled the tank to the top, checked the oil,
    Washed the windows and checked the tire pressure
    I thanked him and tried to give him a tip,
    But he humbly and graciously refused
    Not a surprise when you think about it.

    I took my new-found goodies to the counter
    And commented on the well-mannered young man
    “My grandson.” Said the store owner proudly
    “He’s a great kid and a hard worker.”
    Wish more young people were just like him

    The owner totaled my gas and goodies up
    It came to much less than I had expected
    And was just two pennies from an even dollar
    The owner winked and pointed to a cup
    With a “Give a penny, take a penny” sign
    Two lonely pennies were in the small cup
    But they would keep the drawer balanced and
    The weight of 98 cents out of my pocket

    I’d never seen a penny exchange cup before
    This was something new way back when
    The owner said it was his grandson’s idea
    “Smart young man you have there.” I said

    I happily took my goodies to the car
    Then I grabbed all my loose pennies and
    Headed back in and filled their little cup
    Then I thanked the young man for his help
    And while shaking his hand I slipped
    A C-note in his front overall pocket
    With “Thank You” written in pencil
    He didn’t notice
    But it would

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