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Theme: Money

The Hand of Mammon

In your permanently lit palace
Expenses are an irrelevance
When pound notes are used
As serviettes and paper handkerchiefs.
There are no table mats or napkins
Only crisp new smackers on which to rest your glass;
Never-ending tea parties and 10-course meals
Are de rigueur
Along with voluptuous hostesses and statuesque men.

In the billionaire’s Xanadu
The hand of mammon moves slowly
Carefully unravelling and stretching currency notes,
Watching a multitude of screens
While the tills ring every minute.
There are no losses only profits
Vast sums accruing at a staggering rate.
Oh for a display of humility
A little restraint!
But a megalomaniac assumes power is his right.

Thus economies crumble; nations collapse
Old buildings are razed; new towers arise
Obstacles are crushed; rivals swept aside
Destruction is rampant; a new order takes shape.
Greed and acquisitions; possessions and insatiable hunger
A billionaire’s whim; a click of the fingers.
Nothing is safe from conquest; nothing beyond grasp.
A coterie of advisers moves at speed
A new venture, another feather in the cap.

The kingdom is expanding; more additions arrive.
The dull wife is discarded; the trophy mistress is in situ.
The penthouse and the basement,
The new solarium and the refurbished gymnasium;
The 80-seat cinema theatre
With a projectionist on permanent standby.
The heated swimming pool, the private lift
The magician awaiting his cue,
Brought on a private King Lear jet
To provide entertainment.

The magician’s presence is fitting
For in this palace of fantasy
Reality is illusion, illusion is reality
As the imported expensive wines arrive.
But they are for display only
Stored at room temperature in a glass cabinet.
The clocks show different times
Chiming every five minutes; shares and indices
Rising and falling to show market fluctuations.

There is everything here
But there is emptiness here too; a glitzy numbness.
Behind the façade, the worldly possessions
The closed-circuit TV, the all-round security
The commerce experts, the art and wine cognoscenti;
Apprehension pervades like a contagion
With no antidote in sight.
In this charmless edifice, no one ever smiles
They are too busy counting gains and losses.

Young Josh just wants to play
Dribble the ball past his peers
And stroke it into an empty net.
Innocence and enjoyment; the prerogative of children
A common language the world over.
But he is a de facto prisoner
Learning economics rather than the joy of outdoors.
At the age of five, he is a hostage to fear
While upstairs, the hand of mammon
Deals only in numbers.


More By  :  Kewal Paigankar

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