Five economic terms you should know and The ring of Gyges, 2 poems by Casey Killingsworth

Five economic terms you should know

Scarcity. The bar where I am drinking–because I have
money–has more beer than it could give away but
it won’t, even to the homeless guy who is standing
by me, because how could you make money that way,
so I myself give him a twenty for the five dollar cover
and tell him to buy a beer with the rest.

Supply and demand. This bar has 64 taps because
they figure that’s how many taps can make them
the most money. Statistically, the homeless don’t count.

Opportunity cost. Maximizing his gain, the homeless
guy buys nachos, then asks the prettiest woman in
the bar for a dance. For one song he’s as rich as the rich,
taking the silk smell of her blouse with him.

Time value of money. I could have made more if I
would have invested that twenty in the stock market.

Purchasing power. He re-attaches all his fanny packs
and coats and leaves, somewhere. I go home after
the second set, glasses are washed and put away and
the bar closes and locks are locked. Warm houses
receive back their owners and a little change from
my twenty jingles away on a skateboard, the remains
of my investment, somewhere out there
into the night and cold, the cold.

coppery coin with numeral one on it against black background
One Cent by Anika ( CC license.
The ring of Gyges

When he flipped the switch
the heater repairman said
he was “calling” the heat
from the heater and I said
to myself as the heater fired
up wouldn’t it be convenient
if everything were that easy,
moving the homeless indoors
for instance, by just flipping a
switch and “calling” them away
from their cold street and hunger.
Did you notice my first thought
was clearly magnanimous,
when we know–I know–
that I’d use my new super
power for myself first, maybe
resuscitate a long-ago relationship
I haven’t thought about for years,
or “call” a new Porsche. In the end
I’d still turn on that switch
to help the less fortunate. I’d call
the less fortunate. I would.
You know I would.

Casey Killingsworth
Casey Killingsworth has been published in numerous journals including The American Journal of Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, The Moth, and 3rd Wednesday. His latest book is A nest blew down (Kelsay Books, 2021), and a new collection, Freak show (Fernwood Press), is due out in early 2023. Casey has a degree from Reed College.

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