Government Spending

By Patricia Lockwood Patricia Lockwood
The government spent a Patricia on me,
“a huge waste,” it lamented, “when we could
have been spending it on another Nixon,”

the government spent all its beauty
on the great light leap on the deer-
crossing sign — there was hardly any
beauty left for anything else in America,
and looking around them the government
said,
           “Is there none left? Print more,”

you are born, you barely contain yourself,
you grow, inside you, someone spends
a billion to make prison more luxurious;
inside you, someone spends a billion
to keep libraries open one hour later;
then oh god, you feel wonderful,
                         you must be on welfare,

the government spent its whole education
on me, at least that is how it feels right now,
I am bursting with educational dollars,
I am bursting with other dollars as well,
I’m rounded up, I’m one long row of ohs,
I get so many commas
                     that the sentence doesn’t stop,

the dollars in me are a map of  Missouri
my mother can’t fold back up, oh no the map
is everywhere, but I know the way, I am hot
on a trail, I am bursting with the dollars
that put that knowing breath in drug dogs,

all the spending of  the space program is in me,
the stars seem especially close, this is because
they are a government handout, they are spending
millions on moonlight research, when I am President

I will cut the arts and let my right arm flow downhill,
I am ready, there is nothing trivial about me left,
I am eliminating the penny every second,

a dollar is peeled off a roll of  thousands,
it is the day, the mint of  it is in my mouth,
I open it, completely fresh.

Source: Poetry (December 2013).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2013
 Patricia  Lockwood

Biography

Patricia Lockwood’s poems have appeared in the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, Tin House, and Poetry. She is the author of Balloon Pop Outlaw Black (Octopus Books, 2012).

In April 2014, Patricia Lockwood was a featured writer for Harriet.

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Class, Money & Economics

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.