PoetryIssue 22 | April 2015

1955-D and 1945-S

by Craig Cotter

—for Helen Boni

As a kid
I’d find a silver quarter

once every two years or a silver dime.
And I’d find World War II nickels with silver

throughout my 20s
as most hadn’t clued-in.

I haven’t found a silver coin
in 20 years.

Still find an occasional wheat-ear penny.
Have two on my desk.

The ‘55 still with luster.
It’s in superb condition.

“Superb” is not a coin grade—
the wheat ears contain clear lines

and Lincoln’s facial structure is barely worn.

The ‘45 has that yellow tone from melted shell casings
as World War II was coming to a close.

Lincoln’s cheekbones are smooth
and the ears of wheat lacking.

I no longer have grades memorized, but I’m thinking
“Fine” would do it.


When I was young
reading the coin grades

wanting my worn coins
to be better than they were

I imagined qualities
that weren’t there.


My Grandmother
would give me rolls of coins to go through

when I visited her in Little Falls
and in one roll of pennies I found two 1909 VDBs.

They weren’t S’s
but in lovely shape

and I wondered years later
if she’d planted them.

Like my dad hooked a northern pike on my line
after I’d gone to bed when I was 9, where I’d set the pole

in the ground near shore with a minnow on the hook
being told pike come in shallow at night to feed.


Now these pennies roll around in a hand-made dish
I got in Costa Rica.

The other day a reed bracelet sold to me by a teenage boy
in northern Thailand sprang from the dish

as I closed the closet door
reminding me of him walking back into the jungle.

Reminding me of the donuts made fresh before sunrise in the wok of oil
by the 7-year-old boy on Doi Ang Kang Mountain,

Burma in the distance.
The women’s teeth black from chewing beetles.

About the author

Craig Cotter was born in 1960 in New York and has lived in California since 1986. New poems have appeared in many places, including Assaracus, Court Green, and Poetry New Zealand. Read his fourth book of poems: After Lunch with Frank O’Hara.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok