Category Archives: Cornelia Read

Doggerel is Mine, Saith the Cornelia

By Cornelia Read

(WARNING: This is what happens when you wanted to write Wacky-Pack stickers when you grew up, but they stopped making them.)


Poems for a New Economy



You do not do, you do not do
Any more, old Greenspan shoe,
Under which I shall writhe like a grub
For innumerable years, poor and white,
Barely daring to eat or pay MWA dues.

Greenspan, I would've liked to kill you.
You died before I had time–
Mortgage-heavy, a bag full of Fed,
Ghastly statue with eyebrows
Big as two Frisco seals

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours Friedman green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Wall Street,
They all used to drink of you.
Ach, du.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Prime Rate, your gobbledygoo.
And your cut-glass eye, bright blue.
Panic-man, panic-man, O You–

Not God but a spreadsheet,
So red no sky could squeak through.
Barbara Walters dated you.
(That woman adores an Economist,
The graph in the face, the bwute
Bwute heart of a bwute like you.)

You stand at the blackboard, Greenspan,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your math instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not

Any less the black man who
Bit my pretty net worth in two.
I was forty-six when they buried you.
When I'm eighty–barista–it's true.

Here's a stake in your smug bloated heart,
And your flawed Dismal Science, too.
Greenspan, Greenspan, you bastard, I'm through.



Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye mortgage banker?
Whilst bailouts burgeon like yon canker;
I canna hope but ye strunt rarely,
Owre the populace;
Tho', faith! I fear we'll dine but sparely
Ever after this.

Ye ugly, creepin, blastit butthead,
Detested by both quick and the dead,
How daured ye suck the lifeblood from us–
Sae fine a country?
Tax someone else now, leech your bonus
Off of the gentry.

Swith! may you in sere breadlines stagger;
Bereft of golf clubs, skis and swagger,
Wi' all your kindred, ne'er more swillin'
At Fed and nation's teat;
Plus find you resist penicillin
When e'er The Clap does hit.

O wad some Clout the SEC had
To kick your ass as you deserved!
From greedy blunders' Jihad free as
We're set in motion:
What fears of cold and famine'd lea'e us,
And need for K-Y lotion!



A 401K is a joy for ever:
Or so we thought–that it would never
Pass into nothingness; and would have bred
A condo just for us, or unwet beds
In some nursing home (where no false teeth get stolen).
But now, on every morrow, needs must embolden
Our toils–regain the promise of a senile berth,
Spite of despondence, and the inhuman dearth
Of compound interest on whate'er we'll yet squirrel away.
We'll fear the unhealthy and o`er-darkened day
That caps our earning years: yet, inspite of all,
Some fierce courage burns away the gall
From all the worth those bastards squandered.



April is the cruelest month–this year
Especially. Gleaning IRS tithes from this fallow harvest,
Memory and desire stirring
Our dull bowls of rice and beans.
Winter kept us numb, cloaking
Hubris in forgetful snow as we stoked
Weak embers with the dry grass of regret.
Summer may yet surprise us, spilling over the Dow's transom
With a shower of gold; we'll stop in the colonnade,
And go on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
Amazed we can afford lattes again,
Grateful Hitler was no Lazarus.

Mein IRA, wo weilest du?
Good night, savings, good night sweet savings, good night, good night.



He fucked us good, that Paulson lad.
  Might not have meant to, but he did.
He weighed us down with debt banks had
  And added extra, for the kids.

The Fed was fucked to cut those rates
  For wolves in old-style banker's coats,
Who half the time were reprobates
  And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't accrue more debt yourself.



I thought that I should never see     
A bank as stupid as a tree.     
A tree with hungry mouth still prest     
Against this client's emptied breast;     
A tree that plays at God all year,         
Then shrugs its boughs when checks don't clear;     
I hope Wells Fargo soon will wear    
A crown of birdshit on its hair;    
Poems are made by fools like me–    
No doubt my bank will charge a fee. 



Banks fail you;
Mattresses lump;
T-bills strain you;
Zurich's a dump.
Ponzis ain't lawful;
Bond yields end;
Dogtracks smell awful;
You might as well spend.

Got any monetary verse of your own? Let 'er rip…

Ball and Chain

By Cornelia Read

have been married for twenty years. Actually, as of today, make that twenty
years, two months, and nineteen days. I won’t quibble about hours or anything.
I’m tired.

past November 18th, I sat down for my first meeting with a divorce


enough, that date is also my soon-to-be-ex husband’s birthday. 


does this have to do with writing, you may well ask? Well, I think mostly the
connection can be traced back to the exact moment I actually realized the
marriage was finished. 

This occurred circa ten a.m. on the morning of
President’s Day before last, when my formerly intrepid spouse said to me, as I
was packing for a trip east to take part in the South Carolina Book Festival:

“You have to give up this writing shit, because you’re not making any money and
I need a homemaker.”


looked at him for a moment and didn’t say a word–just stood there remembering
the three cross-country moves I’d made with two small kids in tow for his job
transfers, the thousands of diapers I’d changed solo, the pots of discount mac
and cheese I’d cooked for the kids and eaten the dregs of when he was yukking
it up a la frat-boy at trade shows in Chicago and New Orleans and Atlanta, or
being hand-fed expense-account sushi by comely young Korean waitresses while
dining with potential customers in Seoul–and then thought to myself, “you can
kiss my shapely well-published ass, Bucko, because I am *SO* goddamn out of

I thought of the following words, uttered by Alice Walker during her graduation
address to the class of 1972 at Sarah Lawrence College, my own alma mater:

person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence…. Or who belittles in
any way that which you labor so to bring into the world.”

Yes We Can

it took me until this last July to actually leave, but still. Here’s the
important thing: I may hate like anything to slam my ass into the chair every day
to write, but I’ll be goddamned if I’ll let anyone get away with demanding I stop. Reading is how I endured my childhood, but writing is the only way
I could’ve survived life as a grownup.

never thought I would ever finish a manuscript, but somehow, seven years ago,
in the depths of one of the most miserably tanking abyss periods of my entire
life, my love of words and stories came rushing back—seemingly out of nowhere.

got involved with two magnificently supportive writing groups, one focused on
mystery and one more generic. I rediscovered a passion I thought I had given up
forever. And ultimately, I met a bunch of very kind and incredibly cool people
and I got published, so now I can actually support myself… at least this

me, all of that is a fucking miracle. It is the very best sort of good luck,
and I am every kind of grateful.


how things unfold, though… it turns out the woman my husband has been seeing
all summer and just bought an engagement ring for is this
wannabe-romance-novelist chick, from the generic (and long-defunct) writing


might be some instant-karma retribution coming due, however. First of all, I
think this woman probably believes she’s snagged my fictional husband “Dean,”
who is waaaaay cooler than the real-life version. Poor thing, though…
eventually she’ll get him home and discover batteries are not included.


Well, the divorce lawyer was recommended to me by a woman in my Current Writing
Group—who just happens to be an assistant DA in San Francisco. (Not that I want
or expect to walk away with gobs of boodle or anything. {Here are my new nine favorite words in the English language: “I made more money than he did this year.”} I just want the walking-away part: Finito. Over-and-done-with. Thanks
for playing. Buh-bye.

hey, look… I am far from having been a perfect spouse or anything. Let’s just
say the husband was justified in nicknaming me “the lightning rod for entropy
in the universe.” I’m a fucking slob. I admit it. 

la guerre
. May we both move on, live long, and prosper. Whatever.



the problem, though: I’m stuck with my ex as a series character. This is
because I made him look too good on paper.


my defense, I did try to portray him more honestly in my second novel.


made my kinghell genius editor and his scathingly brilliant assistant say,
“What the hell happened to Dean? He’s so goddamned bitchy and whiny… all he
does is yell at Madeline and smoke pot. Why doesn’t he get off his ass and look
for a job?”

Jeff Spicoli - Chris sm


of course said, as I seem to do with each draft when the gang in NY gets to a
part they don’t like, “Um, because that’s what happened in real life?”

which their response is always, “Which doesn’t make said episode suck any
less as fiction. Please go fix it.” (Only they phrase it much more kindly, something I totally appreciate because underneath this hardboiled catcher’s-mitt of
a persona I am such a delicate little flower.)


time around–book three–they just said: 

“So. Dean disappears in the second half of the
book. We need to see more of him…. No, you can’t start showing the
dissolution of the marriage yet…. You’ve got too many other balls in the air
with this narrative.”


response to which I sighed a single resigned, “Feh.”

guess I’ll just have to think about some other guy while I’m “with” my husband,
in the third draft. (Funny, it seems like I’ve had quite a bit of practice at
that, too, in real life.)


however, I’m going to convince the editorial mucky-mucks that it’s time to push
Dean over a steep cliff and then run him over with a big fat honking
train—preferably while he’s wearing his pseudo-ass fakeity-fake-fake
“I-like-to-pretend-I-served-in-Iraq” camo hat, vitriolicly humming along with Rush
Limbaugh–and I’m going to enjoy the hell out of *that*.

a bitch, dude.


the meantime, screw Tammy Wynette’s lame ol’ “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” here’s some music
to *really* celebrate by:

Dixie Chicks rule!

‘fess up… has reading or writing ever saved you, or given you the opportunity
to honest-to-goodness OWN the last word? Spill….