Modern coins the sizes of shine
swept off my friend’s bureau in Ghent
and pocketed by my careless habit—
not brown pennies too dull to return
they include designer Devlin’s sculpture
of the duckbilled animal
swimming up to the top swirl
and five kangaroo tails mixed to a dollar.
When the Irish attained their republic
they mounted their noble beasts trim,
each well inside a knurled rim
and labeled in lapidary Gaelic
while our successors simply enact
themselves: the lyrebird lapped under music,
echidna belly-on like a buckle
each numerally off center and whacked.
What is the use of small change?
To pay small debts, toss up, delight children,
to gamble by the jingle-crash billion—
to clean your teeth, with the card tasting strange
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.