Sunday, June 13, 2010


i was 5 years old
alcoholic father
enabling mother
two hungry siblings
a brother and a sister
finally there was me
fat from poor folks food
five people, longing to be free
i was young
but i did the math

eight years of grammar school
four years of high school
four years of college
thirty-three years at a thankless job
equals forty-nine years of work
to prepare me for now
i did the math

fifty-six thousand men died in Viet Nam
i wonder how many POW's are still MIA?
countless more in the great world wars
also remember:
the inquisition
the crusades
the middle east
and other manly atrocities
commited by beastkind
forty bucks for an american flag
forty bucks for an islamic flag
five bucks for a shot-and-beer
six bucks for a pack of smokes
three bucks for a gallon of gas
i did the math

twenty bucks for a cheap whore
six bucks for a hustler magazine
three bucks for a pornographic video rental
twelve bucks for a handful of good condoms
internet porn is free
AOL is eleven bucks a month
a good marriage is priceless
i did the math

war is costly
politicians are crooked
corporate monoliths have no morals
i smell an expensive rat
there will be blood in the streets
the revolution is coming
who will clean it up?
will they get paid?
thorazine is ten bucks
for a thirty day supply
my health insurance is too high
my number will soon be up
countless doctors
will have me pee in a cup
bend over
look at my blood pressure
cholesterol numbers
get in the check-out line
please take a number
have one final wheeze
i count the ticks and tocks
then darkness comes
as i expire
i think...
i did the math


  1. Whoa! Powerful richard! I'm unexplainably teary-eyed upon reading.

    I guess it a worry we all have deep down....did I consider what I should have.....did do it right.... Is there a RIGHT way beligerently and softly rings through my head and muscles.... Did I do the math? My stubborn self says fuck there a place for NEW MATH?

    But in the end, the only question I wanna know is: did it all add up to a good life and joy-filled ride... . . .

  2. Rough, raw, real, succinct. one of the reasons I love one of the books I have of yours. My father was a math teacher. When I read this poem afterwards it felt like I had gone home for a little while.

  3. thanks to you, Darrin and Polly...You did the math!