Carolyn Martin

Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin Gripes About His Coffin’s Proximity to the Sidewalk on Arch Street
– Christ Church Burial Grounds, Philadelphia, PA

Golgota by Lajos Vajda

When the wind blows through the cemetery’s trees,
I can hear his nightly groans from my fifth-floor room
in Wyndham’s Arch and Fourth hotel.

Louder than racing fire trucks, louder than revelers
heading home from Constitution Park,
he’s at it every night and his wife can’t shut him up.

Neither can his Declaration mates:
Rush, Ross, Hewes, and Hopkinson.
They never could in life, never will in death.

He damns the day he coined the line about
small-fry currency. Five-hundred-thousand pings
each year are driving him insane.

It’s a “penny-toss tradition,” officials tried
to calm him down – as sacred as the Pirates’ Parrot
and Philly cheese steak – but he’d have none of it.

If I were rebellious enough, I’d quill-pen a sign
and hang it on the black wrought-iron fence
that separates his bed from passers-by:

At Franklin’s request, his body now resides
beneath his tight-lipped bust two blocks down
between Engine 8 and Betsy Ross. Cease

and desist tossing coins here. Revisionists
can’t agree on what he really said on that spring
garden walk. Was it a penny or a peony?


About the writer:
From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has published poems in more than 125 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. She is currently the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation.

Image: Golgota by Lajos Vajda (1908-1941). Collage on cardboard. 27.5 x 19.6 inches. Circa 1937. Public domain.