A man offers to trade his guitar for a city bus.
My pick for your passengers. Six strings for sixteen wheels.
A bride on her wedding day exchanges her love
for bright weather, a groom exchanges his hands for hers.
A father offers to trade his family for a hotel’s worth of sleep.
A sailor offers the Pacific for a hotel’s worth of sex.
Tonight, the shirt from my back, my singing mouth,
my endless praise, for your skin or company.
I’ll give you my stethoscope for a red barn: a doctor.
I’ll give you my right arm for your left: his patient.
It’s the inequality of pain a sleepless woman wants
to give away. Here, take mine, she offers to freight trains
whistling their replies through Houston’s poorest wards:
Jealousy gets you jealousy. Rage gets you rage.
"What wouldn’t you offer?" a man asks the pawn shop window.
"What wouldn’t you take?" replies the glass.
Joshua Rivkin's poems have appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review, Harvard Review, Southern Review, and elsewere. A former Stegner Fellow, he lives in Los Angeles.