Twenty Bucks

Christmas, 2007 / No. 19

Guy offers a kid twenty bucks to get in his car,

go for a ride. Don’t tell me the kid didn’t know

the score. The kid knew enough,

but he didn’t know the handcuff trick & the man did.

Man 1, Kid 0.

Twenty American dollars in your hand

cash money, you can live like a king for ten minutes,

huge amounts of dope, a woman overnight,

passage to strange places, any information

you want. Saw it on TV one time.

Twenty dollar bill, gripped in the stripper’s fist

& you can’t tell if she hates this job

or your whole sex or just this song.

Twenty dollars is half a month’s wage in prison

where life is measured out in cigarettes:

five minutes nicotine delight,

five hours to earn it.

Five years inside,

five years left.

For twenty bucks I can get us to Coney Island,

get us a hot dog & still have cab fare home.

Don’t ask me how.

I know a guy, that’s all I can say.

Gimme twenty bucks for this here chair.

My old dad drank half his life away sitting right there.

Gimme twenty bucks for it,

otherwise, I’m just gonna chop it into matchsticks.

One easy payment of twenty dollars, sorry—no C.O.D.s.

Pay cash no tax, why not? Sounds smart to me.

Black markets everywhere buzz with green bees,

old Mr. Jackson or our own lovely queen.

Twenty piece, fits in your hand, perfect.

Just enough to tide me over, brother.

Do me a solid, man,

gimme twenty bucks.