The Dollar Stays With

This poem comes from an exercise led by Cate Marvin. Each month a Stonecoast faculty Zooms a writing session. I’ve missed poetry, was excited. The return was clunky. I kept at it, had some fun, shared the revision with my kids.

The Prompt

We needed a dollar bill to look at, better if we had one to touch.

The _____ is _____
It looks like a _____, a _____, and/ or a _____
When I see it, I smell _____
When I smell _____, I remember _____
I think of the time _____
It looks like _____ and it makes me dream of _____

We Got Five Minutes to Write

The bill is flat
It looks like a stock or play money or foriegn
When I see it I smell O’Hare
When I smell O’Hare I remember going home
I think of the time I cannot
It looks like my ticket here
And it makes me dream of staying

There was time left so I tried again:

The dollar bill is on my screen
It looks like play money, a game, something squandered
When I see it I smell sitting on a plane
When I smell dry, recirculated air I remember
Wisconsin, humid July
I think of the time we left last
It looks like that is what we did
And it makes me dream of first light

After ELEVEN Pages in My Notebook Over the Next Few Days

Noodling this exercise because I could not allow the poem to rest because it wasn’t really a poem yet. I like the challenge. For me, the point of a writing exercise is just that. I do yoga so I can run. I write from a prompt or imitate or try a new form just to see because all the practice feeds my work.

The Dollar Stays With

I forgot to tell you get a dollar bill. Shit. You
could use foreign currency but let’s stay with
America. Five minutes
:

In my bag a Harraseeket keycard, a sleeve of
disposable masks, lip balm

a thousand won note shades of blue but no
one dollar bill

Let’s stay with America. Front back images
on my screen. I glance at

Washington delicate scrolls blue red fiber
squiggles heavy cream the eye

and light, cheap denomination almighty enough
that people live on

this, a day. The dollar is not in hand. In hand
it looks like a tip

for a tip jar at a cafe, a day old strawberry
doughnut at Skelly’s farmstand,

it looks like one of twenty I give my kids to
buy something American

(mint M&Ms, Lucky Charms, JoJo hairbows,
Doritos, fidget spinners, Silly Putty)

When I see an American dollar bill I smell
the recirculated air of a fourteen

hour flight home – cool dry antiseptic kimchi
lightly perfumed

When I smell a Korean Air cabin I smell
Wisconsin July – cut hay, bonfire

fish fry, my son’s sweaty hair like sun, clean
night slip through window screen

I think of the time when I stood outside during
a tornado warning

the night before our first flight to Seoul, Mom
and me watching dusk roil, churn

cold, strong wind cut a clear thought we could
lose everything here there

We really could. It looks like the four of us
fourteen hours ahead

this summer, and it makes me dream of
choosing this plenty, the dollar

not in hand