Value and coin are not always material, yet we seldom remember to speak of poverty outside economic terms. Profit and loss are but symptoms of additions to and subtractions from life. Life, the “sum of sums.” That is why the pound of flesh can never be taken or given.The secret reasons why we value some things and say we do not value others lie tangled somewhere among, between, our hearts and minds. Hidden and lost to the eye, they hold in our abilities and desires like a web. We realize they exist when events split us open and we are divided, shelled, husked. And there, momentarily, ends all possibilities for compromise.

We barter, then, our position for obscurity. Is the soul impoverished because we are destitute of choice? We choose one thing, one side, in order that we may continue to live away from the quick of things. Those who attain the edge often do not walk it long. Wiser men have called this chosen obscurity the bourgeois way of life. Never mind if it is a lesser life, it is still a choice. Who are we to say if this is a greater evil, though you will call it the bourgeois apology?

The path to freedom, usually glimpsed high above, lies through the difficulties of petty choices. In themselves, these choices are not poor. They become a phalanx, a desert, when their strictures appear to be an imposed, unbearable choice upon a life.  Tragic things and things like poetry are born of that situation of imposed, substituted places and things. When the discomfort can be borne, as it most often is, its bearers gather as dust on the path to the heaven poets and lenders alike extol.

The soul is more impoverished when we are destitute of direction.