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April 15, 2014

"The Wealth of Nations"

An UNCOMMON/WORD poem by Mike Rollin

Mike Rolliin

Mike Rollin has worked as an interpreter and community organizer, and as a writing instructor at the University of Minnesota and the College of St. Catherine. He received a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota and was the recipient in 2010 of a SASE/Jerome Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. His poems have appeared in Puerto del Sol, Bombay Gin, Water~Stone, Xcp: Streetnotes, Northwest Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Minneapolis. 

The Wealth of Nations


At the gas station on 34th Street, a man with a shopping cart full of cans sells a Korean-English dictionary boxed set for $20, or whatever you’ve got. A little boy on a bike darts among the parked cars asking every window, “You got 89 cents? You got 89 cents?” The still-plentiful gas courses quick as air through the nozzles, profits billowing like thunderheads. Silver jets pass high overhead, a thin gleam like fish bones picked clean. Next door, four roofers toss down slabs of old shingles. And a block away, written in pink and yellow chalk on the sidewalk, a guide to a curbside garden:









scarlet runner beans


lamb’s ear





When I read my neighbor’s writing here between the rumble of cars and the cluttered porches, a new part of me aches, coming to life. There are ways to see the city. The way the gas pump circles back to zero. The way the seedpods split and spill. The way the roofers nail down shingles, knowing they can’t afford the house.