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Friday, May 18, 2007


by Charles Reynard

"Give me a one-armed economist!"
--Harry S. Truman

When they spoke of predators, prisoners
(and their dilemmas), free riders, yellow
dogs, toxins, adverse selections, moral

hazards, it sounded like our candy-ass
normative values disintegrating
on sharp stone shoals of unforgiving facts,

like kindergarteners caught in a Freddy
Krueger film. All that we needed to do:
find the one-armed economist somewhere

between ad coelum et ad infernos,
to drive us in his special purpose vehicle,
fueled by CAT bonds, out of the nightmare

on Wall Street to the efficient frontier
where we learn minimum wages did not mean
to cause joblessness, nor was it intended

that increased fuel economy causes death.
We hope at last it’s there near the end
of our exquisitely short attention span

where we find equilibrium, i.e. the point
of no regrets, where we dig up the black
box for judging, found with the recipe:

put in the facts, add a notion or two
of law, shake well, the answer tumbles out.
On the other hand, even if the box

is not found, we will exist there, consoled
by this new way of thinking (remember
thinking like a lawyer, the ornament

of argument, wretched proofs of our gift),
knowing that the cost of living has not
yet diminished its popularity.

Charles Reynard serves as a Circuit Court Judge in Central Illinois . His poems have appeared on WGLT Public Radio’s Poetry Radio, also in the anthology Where We Live: Illinois Poets (edited by Kathleen Kirk, 2003), the 2004 Emily Dickinson Awards anthology by Universities West Press, the literary journals AfterHours, Crab Orchard Review, Kaleidowhirl (on-line), as well as National Catholic Reporter. He is co-editor (with Judith Valente) of Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul (2005, Loyola Press). He was a finalist for the Gwendolyn Brooks Award for emerging poets in 2003 and a recipient of a Jo-Anne Hirshfield Memorial Poetry Award in 2007.