Paper coupon, counterfeit money. One more use
for the printing press, maybe the only remaining use.
Exchange for silver? No, pass it on to the trusting poor
unwary of sleight of hand, dishonesty, corruption.
From the kid who loves to look at nudes, tumescence
growing, the coupon goes to the photography store,
where it’s passed to the worker collecting his due
driving truck to fill the building’s heating-oil supply.
He’s the one will pay: go to jail, lose any future job,
then to prison, lose his daughter to death, his wife
who chooses a new life. The future now mostly oblivion,
he kills, he lives alone. An older woman takes him in.
If she were God, she says, she would forgive everyone.
Her brother slaps her for showing compassion, enslaves her.
Her boarder wants to help her break away. She loves life
despite the death she lives. Otherwise, where would he be?
He takes an ax, murders the brother, the woman’s family.
He raises his ax to her eyes with a glint of grace that his lack.
The bloody blade thrown into the lake brings up bubbles.
Bresson, as usual, stays where he was, in the world this is.
No one confessed to passing the coupon on to others.
The others never confess. He does. There was nothing
to own up to, yet innocence is no excuse. Guilt lasts
forever once you can’t get hired after breaking the law.
He must forego every happiness to come because the past
is what we live by. After a man is bludgeoned by the state
he shrinks, or grows stronger, but stronger only with rage.
In Bresson’s film, at the end this man preempts the system.
He goes to the police where he finds them and confesses
without being charged, and the chain receives its last link.
I read Tolstoy, whose story it is. The structure is the same,
but not the denouement, which could only be Bresson’s.
Each morning now I wake with my debts in the forefront
of my brain’s lobes. I have everything other than money.
I have the gold of my longtime lover’s beauty and care.
I age with the bounty of what weds me to love’s companion.
I take Bresson’s cue: The world is swallowing all those
who do not make the money or the laws or climb the ladder
to heaven. The precipice lies in wait. The poor have no choice
but to continue as though they lived in a hell already here.
(after L’Argent, 1983, Bresson’s final film)
(1 December 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander