Value, a poem


I’m a trinket for a diplomat to woo the Sublime Port.
I’m a lot condemned for auction at an Admiralty court.
I am a talking instrument legated in a will.
I’m the sword that cuts the master’s head as blood begins to spill.

I’m a portion of a tribute, payment rendered as a tax.
I’m an item in a ledger, an impression stamped in wax.
I’m an entry from a registry, a line in a log book.
I’m the thunder and the lightning as the Winter Palace shook.

I’m a nanny’s little girl forced apart by bonds of debt.
I’m an invisible drudge, I’m the proceeds of a bet.
I’m a silent standing statue in an ostentatious hall,
and the whisper of the guillotine, as heads begin to fall.

I’m a pair of lips that kissed the feet which held them in despair.
I’m a pair of legs that ran for traders sitting on a chair.
I’m the pair of agile hands that built your latest mobile phone.
I’m a scourge that breaks the chains, a pirate flag of blood and bone.

I’m the cry of buy and sell, a symbol standing for a stock.
I’m the burning flesh of seamstresses all murdered by a lock.
I’m a miner digging to my death to keep my owners rich.
I’m plantations’ scattered cinders and white corpses in a ditch.

I’m a subject for research, a discarded broken toy.
I’m a golden tooth. I’m organs taken from a nameless boy.
I’m a pile of hands. I’m missing rubber. I’m depleted wells
and I’m T32s defeating darkness with their shells.

In the language of accountants you can read my bloodless tale.
Through the signs of wealth and hunger you can pierce my artful veil.
In the books, for every number where the black ink has been shed
there shall always come an answer, which in balance shall be red.


Several improvements and corrections thanks to the inestimable help of my friends.