National Poetry Month Day 36: “The Lover’s Field Guide to Lesser Coinage” by Sandra Beasley


Was National Poetry Month over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

The Lover’s Field Guide to Lesser Coinage

There are eight stycas in a penny, two pennies in a farthing, three farthings in a nearthing, and eight nearthings in a positutely.

The Russian republic of Tatarstan forgot to print any denomination at all.

In 120 BC the Han Dynasty inked Pai-Lu P’i-pi on white deerskin, laying groundwork for the modern unit of bucks. The Tang Dynasty spent what was known as Fei- Chen, “flying money.” It is not known where they found that many bat-wings.

The reverse of a $100 Federal Reserve Note shows Independence Hall’s steeple, on which the hands of the clock are set at 4:20.

The 100 yuan note features three secret kittens in various poses of prostration.

In 2003, Romania issued the 1,000,000 Lei. In 2004 the Bucharest Underground Mafia won for Best Hip-Hop at the 3rd Annual MTV Romania Music Awards. They disbanded. In 2005, four zeroes in the million-dollar Lei were dropped in a tragic forklift accident.

If placing a nickel on the train tracks outside Camden Yards, be aware that mutilated Thomas Jeffersons are unacceptable in consideration as United States currency. But in England one may flatten the queen’s head before spending her.

The 5-cent mark of Ceylon is rouletted for easy separation into 2-cent and 3-cent portions, convenient for small purchases and quickie divorces.

The first coins were invented by Turkey’s Lydians, who had an excess of electrum with no known value: a stater, a standard, one month’s pay for a military man. You could carry a 1/96 stater. My father carries a coin for the Fighting Blue Devils of the 88th Infantry. They call it a challenge coin. Soldier, if he slaps it on the bar you must have one in your pocket as well, or else buy him a drink: 1/96 of an army reservist salary.

Sandra Beasley

If you like what the Rumpus is doing for National Poetry Month, you’ll probably like this multimedia anthology of original poems we’ve run at The Rumpus over the last three years. Available only for iPad. Check it out!

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →