Filthy Money

Filthy Money.

Without it, you are seriously compromised; without it you will most likely be screwed right out of your home/family/health/teeth/life. You must find ways to make money.

Depending on how and by whom you ‘get paid’, you might have to sell your self, your family, your soul. Money puts a price on everything.

 “Well , you’re getting paid, aren’t you?”

 Once you pay someone, they must do whatever you say; you can write off their humanity, their significance, their content; they owe you some part of themselves, because you paid for it:  Money bestows ownership.

I shared a backyard with a man who asked me to look after his garden for a few days – said he’d pay me.  I said I didn’t want pay; I appreciated the garden, and would love to help out.

He told me he wanted it watered each morning.

Now he was a morning person, with a typical morning person’s prejudices; but I am a night person (don’t let the nsa find out – ) and had to work half of the days in question; so I offered to do mornings on some days, and after work on the rest.

He said No; He wanted it done each morning; I wondered why we couldn’t compromise just for those few days; he said it had to be each morning, and that’s why he was going to pay me, because he wanted the job done his way; no compromises, no discussion.

I said “…and that’s why you pay people: so there’s no discussion – “ which led him to install an entire irrigation system, just so he could have his plants watered exactly when he wanted on those few days.

Money is power, right?

Money is reductionary.

When someone pays you, they can wash their hands of you – like blood money:  “We want this amount for killing our brother.” “Deal.”

(Good thing you had enough money, otherwise they’d have to kill you).

How much blood does a paycheck buy?

How much is my blood worth?

How much is my blood worth to me?

At one job I had, there came a time when I said I did not feel my work was appreciated; I was loudly told that I was paid more than some of the others, AND I had Health Insurance!  Wasn’t that enough???

I acknowledged the generosity of that, but said it wasn’t the same thing…

One year, I volunteered for a sort of apprenticeship with a potter.  In exchange for my assistance, he would teach me things, and provide our lunch.

At the time, my shelter was provided, so I was ‘free’ to work for knowledge and food, rather than for money.  If that potter had been a boor who talked to me like I was his piece of shit servant, I was totally free to leave.  He had no hold over me, and no monetary claim to my selfhood.

What we wound up having was a relationship based on mutual agreement, and mutual respect.  Though we were at different points of learning, and I looked to him as a teacher in his craft, I still had the right to be treated as someone of equal value.

Money…filthy stuff.

It sullies everything it touches;

It cheapens and demeans;

It negates the spirit.


It was the low drone that stopped me,

like a tamboura, sounding through his small acoustic amp.

It pulled on me like a string,

pulled me back from going through that turnstile,

and said to me: Why hurry?

Why not listen a bit…


I stood off to the side,

and despite the flow of people,

I was moved to move…


His music was between him and the moon

and the Hearts and Spirits of

whoever would hear;

and I was lucky:

I heard…


I fished a paltry dollar out of my wallet,

held it folded tight in my hand,

and remained awhile longer…


I didn’t know how deep or far his

music was going to take me –

From I don’t know where,

to nigguns, wailings, my life


one place,

cement, grey

woods, stripes, grey

skies, barbed wire…

Just then, I was swept up by

streams of colour reaching into the skies…

And as I danced there, freed from gravity,

the moon came into me, the moon that was

glowing overhead: a waxing fat crescent…


Then it all resolved into a single note,

and a pause wide enough for me to

collect myself and walk toward him.


By the time I got near,

that piece of paper in my hand

was lint. Meaningless.

What I wanted to give him was

a crackling fire and a bowl of

hearty warmth amidst smiles and laughter.

I surely had no words.


He said:

That is the best: When there are

Only eyes and no words.


He pointed to the moon,

beaming directly down the stairway

he played at the foot of. I said

I’d seen it in his music.

I babbled fragments about dance, art, writing, feeling…

I would like to say more, some other time.


We shared our names.

He said his was from The Land of

Jerusalem; I said There are many

languages in The Land of Jerusalem.


Then, the money: burning, withering,

with a purpose, in my hand…

Oh, how vile;

Bringing it up,

Pressing it toward him,

Even touching it near such sacred sounds…


He protested;

I, knowing he was right, but knowing

Money is important in this life, said

it would be as if I bought him

a nice warm drink –


But his hands were up, and I was

filled with the futility and

potential insult of it, and

so grateful he stopped me;

Stopped me from negating the

Truth of something pure,

something real.


The sting of the gesture is hard to shake off.


He dissipated the crossed energies by

putting his breath into his instrument,

immersing himself and me and

the moon into music…


I stood still and silent,

allowing the tightness in my

chest to release; then curtseyed

and headed home.

As I turned I saw

my little pink card in his box.




filthy stuff.


Morning After

Today is

the morning after

Yom Kippur.

I find it hard to

put food in my mouth.

I woke with

a subtle headache,

undoubtedly from

going without

coffee for 48 hours,

and though I’ve

made myself a cup,

I don’t really want

to drink it.

I want to go outside

and drink in

the wide silence,

to be with

the earth.

On the radio

Joanna Macy is

reading Rilke to me,

reminding me

to remember

the beauty

of this world…

“World is lover,

world is self;

it’s okay for our

hearts to be broken

over the world…”

For this

I’ve needed


for I am just

a foolish woman


over the world…

to listen to Joanna Macy on Speaking of Faith:

for Spring:

Bright sturdy green shoots spiking up through the damp ground like proud little children sprouting up, lifting their arms small selves to the sun…

Here it comes again, that season that always comes around;

Maybe someday it won’t; maybe some spring will be the last spring; we won’t know it while we’re in it, but it might turn out later to have been the last spring this earth would ever know – after that, darkness, maybe obliteration?

But for now:

Here it is again:

Look, see: things will change, life will flower again, sooner or later…

But I remember:

People wrote about/talked about how spring came and the skies were blue, even at Auschwitz…

Yet my heart delights nonetheless at the sight of snowdrops…

Someone will make it; some sense of possibility, of the magick of life unfolding, of existence, of beauty, of creation, is still there, just beneath the soil…