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Waiting in Line at the Bank by Judith W. Steinbergh

July 03, 1988

is a test they never tell you about in the fifth grade. For the occasion they close down two of the windows, the man at the head of the line has saved all his transactions from the whole year for this moment, and the teller takes this chance to learn to type. Christmas is upon us, all the crap in the stores awaits this money that is not forthcoming. Go home, then, make a fire, write a poem, up-end the rituals and expectations you are trapped in, let the tellers out of their cages and into the lobbies to dance, let the sullen manager open the bulletproof vaults to the citizens, let the citizens get what they came for quickly and without guns, let the spirit of giving prevail, oh hail, oh hell bankers, let the computers go down for a change in peace, let the balances rise up like flames of Chanukah candles, like stars of Bethlehem, like hallelujahs out of the mouths of children.

From "A Living Anytime" (Troubadour Press, Boston: $9.95; 96 pp.), Judith W. Steinbergh's fourth collection of poems. She has also written poetry for children, co-authored "Beyond Words, Writing Poems With Children" and recorded tapes for children and adults. 1988, Judith W. Steinbergh. Reprinted by permission.

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