Why would anyone do that? said Armand.
Because they're amateurs and complete fools,
And it's just the kind of stunt they'd pull
In the absence of my professional guidance.
And here's another tip, again for free,
Never put your cash in mutual funds.
It's as bad as playing the slot machines,
The house percentage is always too high.
In the end your investment dwindles away.
I admit I'm not a fiscal wizard,
Said Armand. I try to manage money,
But somehow it just slowly vanishes.
And that, I remarked, is an excellent point,
Raising one of the age-old conundrums.
Where, we might ask, has all the money gone?
Who among us has not dug in pockets
For absent coins, opened empty wallets
Or up-ended purses for missing bills?
Our cash, without consent, without knowledge,
Without any kind of fond farewell,
Leaves us bound on some mysterious errand.
It works, we know, for greater glory of God,
But just exactly what is it doing,
For what future benefit does it lay plans
And rearrange affairs in such a way
That rich get richer and poor get squat?
Who has not audited his own accounts
Looking for clues to that destination
For which debits have made quick departure?
It's as if each is silver-tipped dart,
A sperm that scents remembered counterpart,
A quivering, north-inclined steel needle.
Money can sense what human minds cannot.
Its archer eye aligns with arrow shaft
On something small that steps with stealth through bush.
If only we could intuit that target,
Its nature, its allure, even its distance,
We feel we might deduce our own intention,
Plot the line that runs out from childbirth
To intercept down-swooping deathbed.
It is the one principle that unifies
Spendthrift and miser, beggar and banker.
All are alike in this futile grappling.
I myself have lain awake on long nights
Covering pillowcases and bedsheets,
Even my own naked and hairless thighs,
With inked diagrams and calculations,
But never finding the correct solution.
You don't know, then, parrot, where it goes?
You might as well ask from where it has come,
The value in value-added products.
This is the same issue indeed, reversed.
Our civilization in Nimrod's time,
If all its assets were liquidated
And all the huts, cattle and grain were sold
And converted to cash at market prices,
Would fetch only six shillings three pence,
To state the total sum in terms
Of that now-antiquated currency
With which mankind first assessed its worth.
And how it must have tempted our forefathers
To do just that, sell everything
Or trade it for a handful of magic beans.
Now, of course, it is worth many billions.
Out of what hole did all that cash crawl?
It is the same as the one to which it goes,
The same dank and stinking lair, I wager,
As the one to which it drags home its kills.
Its tiny teeth chews us all in the end.
Where are those huts, cattle and grain gone?
Where, for that matter, is Nimrod gone,
That titan also named Ninus the Great?
But I jest. His whereabouts are well-known.
He is gone to Hell, snatched off the surface,
Stowed underground to utter gibberish
At passersby, bypassed himself
By pentecost, by paraclete, by God.
Liber Jonae Contents