Loose Change

in the city money sleeps on the street
pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters
to find a coin portends more to come
put a penny in your shoe, walk around

like an octopus
its tentacles armed with seductive suction cups
holds fast its grip, foments strangulating self-doubt
a craving for that adrenalin rush
the bright lights never dim
pollute the night, obscure infinity

fleeting, meaningless encounters
block peripheral vision
straight ahead, unwavering, grasping focus
forward, always forward
save for eyes downcast
casting about for glitter of pressed metal
falling out of pockets
urban roar muffles dropped loose change

~ Barbara Janusz

Barbara Janusz is a lawyer, educator, poet and freelance writer residing in the Crowsnest Pass. A contributing writer for EnviroLine, the Business Publication for the Environmental Industry, she has published poetry, short stories, editorials and essays in the Wild Lands Advocate, Inner Voice, Fast Forward, Synchronicity Magazine, Our Times, Forum Magazine, West Word, Carte Blanche, Prairie Journal, blood ink, Tower Poetry Society Press and various anthologies.

“‘Loose Change’ reflects a contrast between urban living and ife in a small town. I’m very superstitious and won’t pass by a coin lying on the street without picking it up ‘for good luck.’ After moving to Crowsnest Pass from Calgary in 2005, I noticed that there was a lot less spare change lying around on the street than in the city, but when I started to write a poem about spare change and my superstitions, I realized the irony. Where there’s more spare change, there’s more homelessness too. If someone doesn’t have a home they’re deprived of comfort, a refuge, sanctuary, a place to secure and maintain their sanity.”

The editors apologize for not posting “Loose Change” with Barbara’s other poems, My Country is the Wind and Sniffing, on December 10, 2009.

Read more of Barbara Janusz’s poetry:
on the brink of the slide
Upper Kananaskis Lake
Jet Lag
Black Hole 1
Black Hole 2

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

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