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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 was born in New Jersey, but now lives in the San Francisco, California Bay area. His poems and essays have been widely published  in journals and anthologies, including the Dana Gioia-edited California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present.  David’s most recent book, Seeing the There There, is a collection of 89 poems and images full of humor and surprises. A finalist for Poet Laureate of California, David teaches poetry for the University of California Berkeley Extension and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Learn more about him 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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