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Harry E Gilleland

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Shredding Checks
by Harry E Gilleland
Monday, July 16, 2012
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Harry E Gilleland
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           >> View all 175

A long free-verse poem about my reflections while shredding old checks.

Today I finally threw away
a foot-high accumulation
of years-old bank statements
with each month’s cancelled checks
from the back of my desk drawer
reserved for storing them.
Actually, I shredded the checks
before discarding them –
for security reasons, you know.

As I fed one old check
after another into the shredder,
I reflected upon how each
check had once played its
part in helping to shred
my finances for that month.

These checks recounted
the passing of my life
month after month
and year after year.
They told the tale
of how my life was spent
during each of those years.

Drop by drop by drop
-- with an occasional flooding --
they depleted my checking
account each and every month:
payment for food and drink,
for electricity to keep us
cool in summer and to light our way,
for gas to make us warm in winter,
for water for cooking, bathing,
and laundering our clothes,
for the TV and Internet cable,
and for the phone to connect
with the outside world.

Then there were those
occasional checks that went
for the doctor and the dentist,
to service or repair the cars,
for birthday and Christmas presents,
for graduation of relatives
both known and unknown,
for flowers sent to the sick and dying,
for special events such as
expenses for yearly vacations
or for visiting Dad in Georgia
or seeing our four kids, who are
scattered over three states.
Oh, and for the numerous magazines
we subscribe to and sometimes
even get around to reading.

These old checks that fed
my shredder’s grinding hunger
also made me feel old,
reminding me of how times
have changed over the years.
My bank had changed names
three times, as one bank
gobbled up the other.
Today my bank no longer
includes the cancelled checks
themselves with the statement,
just reduced images of checks
filling two pages.
I have become old-fashioned
by continuing to write checks
to pay for everything.
My kids all use debit or
credit cards in place of checks.
I feel out of date.

Finally, as I entered check
after check into the shredder,
I thought about how expensive
it had been to get through
each of those past months.
It sure took a lot of checks
simply to live every month.

Gilleland Poetry
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Reviewed by Ronald Hull 7/17/2012
You just about covered it. Before there was money, people traded their work, their livestock, and whatever they could grow, and ended their life with little or nothing unless they were on King, Lord, merchant, or banker. Nothing has really changed except the amount of disposable income we have which we quickly dispose of. I don't have much and never accumulated much. But somehow, this house is filled with junk I don't need, all purchased by those checks, cash, or debits I didn't have to spend. They call it the economy. I call it a bit wasteful.

On the other hand I just had to “prove” all my expenses last year for the small subsidy I get to take care of paying for my three attendants. It's a pain to dredge them all up, even if I am using the computer for proof.


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