Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Banker

His smile is like a cold toilet seat.
He shakes my hand as if he's found it
floating two weeks dead in a slough.
I tell him I need money.
Tons of it.
I want to buy a new Lamborghini,
load it with absinthe and opium,
and hit the trail out of these rainy hills
for a few years in Paris.
I try to explain
I'm at that point in my artistic development
where I require a long period
of opulent reflection.
The banker rifles my wallet.
Examines my mouth.
Chuckles when I offer 20 Miltonic sonnets
as security on the loan.
Now he's shaking his head, my confidence,
my hand good-bye. "Wait," I plead,
"I have debts and dreams
my present cash flow can't possibly sustain."
"Sorry," he mumbles, "nothing I can do,"
and staples some papers
in a way that makes me feel
he'd rather nail my tongue to an ant hill.
I stare at him in disbelief.
And under the righteous scathing of my gaze
the banker begins to change form.
First, he becomes a plate of cold french fries
drenched in crankcase oil.
Then a black spot
on a page of Genesis.
Finally, a dung beetle,
rolling little balls of shit
across a desk bigger than my kitchen.
Yet even as I follow these morbid transformations
I never lose sight of his bloated face,
the green, handled skin
shining like rotten meat.
But then his other faces
open to mine:
father, lover, young man, child -
our shared human history
folding us into one.
And only that stops me
from beating him senseless
with a sock full of pennies.

- Jim Dodge


Anonymous Bushra said...

Hmm.. ref. your previous post... Its a two way thing. I think Allah has created in women a natural desire to enhance their beauty (remmeber even in prophet (SAW)s time they used henna, kohl, jewelry for adornment etc), but its been immensely capitalised today a) for corporations b) because of the enormous emphasis physical attractiveness plays in our societies.. We did an experiment in psychology class recently asking respondents to rate pictures of people with varying beauty and acscribe characteristics to them. Researth showed that not only in social relations but even in courts and firms physical attractiveness plays a huge role. and c) media. Successful people are always portrayed as smart, all shiny shimmery made up and all. Plus Loreal ads. "because you're worth it" Self esteem is linked to makeup.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Great poem. I've never read anything by this poet but I'll remember his name. Is the rest of his stuff as greatly written as this one?

9:34 PM  
Blogger noodles said...

hehe. poem rocks.

i was gonna comment on the makeup thing too.. i agree with bushra and baji.. and you too, but with reservations.. =)

sometimes.. women wear makeup for themselves. just cuz it's fun to dress up and you feel good about yourself when you take care of your appearence.

and.. not all makeup is painted on like a mask and not everyone is trying to hide behind it. my husband hates it too. so i hardly wear anything.. but i think when done right you're not even supposed to notice you have anything on.

and.. appearence counts for more than we realize. why else do you not go to the mall in your pajamas and an interview wearing jeans? sometimes make up is used to put your best face forward? i derno.

10:12 PM  
Blogger karrvakarela said...


Bushra, noodlez: I know what you're saying and I realise that, as Bushra wrote, women do enjoy dressing up and looking beautiful. What I don't understand is this obsession with physical appearance and the lengths to which people, both women and men, indulge it. It's almost as if they have nothing else that speaks for who they are and so they must necessarily put on a disguise to enhance their physical features.

The concept of enhancing one's physical beauty for the purposes of work or interviews appears to me counter-productive because, in a work environment, it distracts people from the content of what's being said and diverts attention. The same argument applies, in my mind, to personal relationships. Why should you pretend to be someone you are not? Does a friend or a partner really need that false incentive to appreciate you? Maybe I'm being too harsh but I seriously think the concept of make-up is degrading to women because it forces them to compromise on their self-respect and their identities as intelligent human beings.

Of course it's all very well to rant and rave about make-up but the fact remains that we live in societies that place great emphasis on physical beauty and that way men and women project themselves. Modesty is actually an obstacle at the workplace, as someone mentioned this weekend when they were telling me about a brilliant female colleague who gets passed over at promotion time because she wears a hijab. Actually, there have been several articles in local newspapers about women who were fired or not allowed to progress in their jobs because of their hijab. Everywhere we see women's bodies being used to sell the most mundane items, from soft drinks to photocopiers to lounge furniture. Sexual arousal is acceptably used as a marketing tool and only because it reflects the moral standards of the society we live in.

The Economist did a feature on the make-up industry and the beauty myth a while back and they wrote that the concept behind the blush, the lipstick and all the rouge is to mimic on a woman's face the sexual excitation experienced during intercourse. I think that in itself is enough to put anyone off the whole idea.

I apologise, sisters, for the rant. Insha-Allah, I hope you have a good day. :)

Carol aunty: I'm afraid this is the only poem by Jim Dodge that I've read. I think I got it off a calendar. But it's a funny poem and I'm glad you enjoyed it! Keep well, Carol aunty.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Knicq said...


Bro, you gotta be careful when lambasting those sood-eating dung beetles - I am still spending that last salary I'd drawn....:(

On a more serious note, beautiful poem, captures the decay at the heart of what is euphemistically called the finance business.

7:35 AM  
Blogger sanchez said...


12:09 PM  

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