“No sorrow held me, for sorrow

was other folks’ trouble and woe …”

National Poetry Month continues with another gem by Zara Raab: this time, a poem well suited to tax season, as Zara considers the significance of money and of having a little bit “extra” for oneself. You can download the broadside and print it at home, or scroll down to read in plain format.

Spending Money

Zara Raab

When the good times rolled at the mill

he slipped me money with a smile,

bills crisp as dried petals of flowers.

I tucked them in my leather purse,

swelling my stipend for groceries.

Like something live, there, the twenties

lay while I washed and made our bed.

How they pulsed, there on the sideboard.

At one o’clock, I dressed with care

in skirt and blouse, and curled my hair

and drove to town in our sedan,

which purred when its blue top was down.

(Thrilling how it answered my wish.)

The neighbors could see—Mr. Kirsch

turned his Roman face and waved.

Mrs. Fergard waddled her way

to the Creamery for a sundae.

The car’s shiny upholstery

like the white walls smelled of money,

as I wheeled to Dresses Chez Bev

clutching my shiny purse. I loved

the dressing room with lights and mirror,

tiny as a doll house, salesgirl

near, cooing as I turned to see

a new self smiling back at me

in a dress not by mother’s hands.

“I’ll never be this happy again”—

didn’t occur, though it was true

I’d never wear a nap so smooth.

As I had what took my fancy

I didn’t see spending money

as something extra for a girl—

herself spending money, laurel

to a man, and not his equal.

When the money, and the car, died,

I wasn’t worried; I never cried.

My motto was “Always cheerful.”

Who’ll provide for me? Someone will.

No sorrow held me, for sorrow

was other folks’ trouble and woe;

it belonged to old Mrs. Bereso,

whose George stole the church bingo,

who lived next door half a century,

who had no teeth or spending money.


Zara Raab’s full-length books are Swimming the Eel and Fracas & Asylum. She has also published two chapbooks, The Book of Gretel and Rumpelstiltskin, or What’s in a Name?, which was a finalist for the Dana Award. Other work has appeared in Verse Daily, Crab Orchard Review, Arts & Letters, Nimrod, and Spoon River Poetry Review. She has published literary reviews in Poetry Flash, Ravin Chronicles, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. She has interviewed Chana Bloch, Cathy Luchetti, and Stephen Kessler, among other notables.


Like what you’ve read here? Then we invite you to enjoy another of Zara’s poems in Broad Street,Bridges.”

And please follow Broad Street on Facebook and our website.

True stories, honestly.
Coins and purse image by Dreamtime.