Leveler Poetry Journal
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Again Money Insists and Love Delights in Worth


light on nighttime grass is not love.

nor is a hand printed, brushed silk love seat.


love and light need not necessarily collude. though most mornings assure.


you love, have left the light on. have left the yard aflame. are a carport doused in gasoline.

imagined homes burn. are foreclosed on.


love, still a source of warmth, suggests.


left on the stairs a photograph of men.

7 photographs of 7 men.

a song sung in a language you no longer understand. such anger is animal.


wet fur, long blind teeth, communicative odors and medicinal promise.

the promise of ailments and their cures ringing like brassy and feral french horns.


a sonic suggestion of wealth, my love, which you will know as kindness.

Stephanie Barber

levelheaded: Again Money Insists and Love Delights in Worth


The speaker’s “love” may be a lover, but it also stands for a larger, capital-L Love. The speaker alternates between love as an abstraction (see: “love and light need not necessarily collude”) and love as a person (see: “you love, have left the light on”). Part of the initial pleasure of the poem comes in parsing out which “love” inhabits the separate moments of the poem, then watching them collide. In the first line of the poem, for instance, the speaker tells us, “nighttime grass is not love,” and of course, nighttime grass is not love. But when the speaker tells us the grass is lit by her beloved having left the light on, she accentuates an emotional hotspot that flickers under their domesticity. The beauty of the nighttime grass is undercut by the speaker’s fiery response in which buildings are burned and carports are “doused in gasoline.” The “nighttime grass” becomes an undulating, flaming thing that stands in for love, whatever we mean.


The poem flips and flops between love as a “source of warmth” and love as a frightening, feral animal. In this changeability, the poem does an excellent, subtle job enacting the mundane dysfunction of any medium or long-length relationship. The poem takes this a step further, rooting the dysfunction in money. The title sets up the poem’s duality nicely – “money insists” while “love delights.” These two great stimuli wreak havoc on the people in the poem, not least because it seems money (in the form of, say, an electric bill) “insists” a bit harder than love can “delight.”


All this is mind, the poem is also a mystery. Possibly the most enigmatic moment comes with the “7 photographs of 7 men” lines. The photographs (or the men in the photographs) seem tied to the “anger” in subsequent lines. The speaker ups the ante from a single photograph to “7 photographs.” She escalates toward anger. But ultimately the moment is private. In a sense, we are missing something. In another, she establishes that we’re dealing in truth. Another moment, “a sonic suggestion of wealth,” is intriguing as tied to “kindness.” What can wealth and kindness possibly have in common in the context of this poem? We’re not sure, but they coalesce into something appealing and promising, so the final line becomes a paean to the complexity of modern love.



-The Editors