close up of subway grate in street

Pennies from Heaven

For Auntie Bertha

give a penny, take a penny –
there were mason jars gabbing
by her sink – copper water soaking,
disinfecting, cleansing coins
of dirty fingers and stomping
snow-filled boots. pennies
are only lucky if found
face-up on a sidewalk, staring
into strangers’ eyes, begging
to give good fortune. I started
turning tail-up pennies on sides,
praying I’d push wealth onto penniless
men, while wondering about Auntie Bertha
and her three-step penny perfecting plan:
is this one that bathed by her kitchen sink?

Pennies aren’t worth heaps,
1/100th of a dollar; 1/1000th of ten.
when they phased themselves out, they stopped
being worthy of anything, not even a mention
when paying with cash:
round up, round down
whatever the case, don’t pay people pennies.

still I find them, amidst drainage
on roadsides, molded into concrete
on sidewalks. a penny for your thoughts;
pennies for dreams.
I learned at a young age that to take care
of pennies, the pounds will take care
of themselves. if they aren’t worth a pretty
penny, I think, why should I take time
to shine them? laughter fills my ears,
a cup of tea and a slice of cheese –
when the penny drops, Auntie Bertha sits
across from me: a penny in exchange for authentic
conversation about life, love, poetry.
suddenly she says to me: “my dear, can’t you see?
once everything is cleansed of dirt,
it’s worth every