When he could save a dime, heavenly chimes rang.

Wintertime he warmed Farmer cheese on the steaming

office radiator, when the sun shined he sat sublime

on a curb waiting for co-workers to finish lunch,

downing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

On rare occasions he’d join the guys for Chinese.

With his own hard boiled egg, he’d order a small

bowl of soup, and munch on co-worker’s noodles.

When his wife dragged him to a Paris vacation,

he got caught in a public pissoir, a self-cleaning sanisette,

running in after his wife to get a two for one free pee

as the disinfectant shower automatically closed the door

showering the toilet and shpritzing him good.

His father’s mantra: “waste not want not,” was emblazoned

in his soul, hurt in his heart to shell out hard cash,

writing a check was an anathema, his hand would flutter

and tremble as if signing a confession for a murderous deed.

Newspapers and magazines were read at the library,

groceries bought with coupons or on sale, he ran

from bank to bank for best interest rates, ecstatic

to be paid something for doing nothing.

He bugged his kids to turn off lights, get off the phone,

cut napkins in half, make do with hand-me-down clothes,

and shop only at the Salvation Army.

Never bought a new car, replaced an engine when the motor

wore out on beat up twenty year old junkers, coasted down hills

squeezing the last drop out of gas.

Scarred by adversity during the Depression

a bottom line fear of hunger shadowed his choices,

turning the blinding glitter of cold lucre into

the sexiest beast of a God.

Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St. Leonia, N.J. 07605