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David Alpaugh

Today I am throwing old checks away
That lay in a shoebox five years, fearing audit.
They’re free—free, at last, to burn or decay.
Money still talks, but her ghouls simply say,
“Something was sold at a price and you bought it.”
Today I am throwing old checks away.
Each bears its signature; year, month & day;
And pays to the order of Mammon: due profit.
They’re free—free, at last, to burn or decay.
Here’s one for Sears; here’s one for ballet;
Airfare to Rome; a homeless benefit.
Today I am throwing old checks away,
Saying “Ciao!” to old wolves they kept at bay
While they tended our credit and fed it bit by bit.
They’re free—free, at last, to burn or decay.
I crumple the papered past. I murmur, “Hurray.”
It’s my shredder now must reconcile chit, chit, chit.
Today I am throwing old checks away.
They’re free—free, at last, to burn or decay.
From Heavy Lifting (Alehouse Press, 2007).
      Used here with the author’s permission.



David Alpaugh has been a featured poet at bookstores, colleges, cafes, and poetry organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area more than 100 times. His first full collection, Counterpoint, won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize from Story Line Press, and his poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals. David holds degrees in English from Rutgers University and the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a Woodrow Wilson and Ford Foundation Fellow. He was also a finalist for Poet Laureate of California. Learn more about David at


Post New Comment:
I know the feeling - so good to know I'm not alone.
Posted 04/19/2014 05:44 AM
A sistina? Great! Love it. The theme, too. Thanks so much.
Posted 04/19/2014 02:06 AM
Alpaugh rocks with wit and strong control of his shredder....he is a poet that has lot to say and says it with charm!
Posted 04/17/2014 11:43 AM
Great IRS poem for April 15th. Be sure to have glass of wine to celebrate before and after you toss records in shredder .
Posted 04/15/2014 12:36 PM
Wilda Morris:
Villanelle is a great form for this topic. What a fun poem for April 15!
Posted 04/15/2014 07:57 AM
Alarie Tennille:
Most fun I've ever had in a villanelle. Thanks!
Posted 04/15/2014 01:04 AM

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