Vo l . 7 N o . 1
Coining A Poem Coins for collecting are discussed with words as rare as the coins themselves. A coin has a provenance, “a story that tells the source and ownership, history of a work of art or literature or of an archaeological find.” The ancient thaler coin, gives us the word dollar.
Leggett had inherited from his dad. There was seam around the edge of the coin. Gil said he worked at it with his “guitar plucker’s thumbnail” until the halves of the coin popped apart … revealing that it was a box thaler with a poem hidden inside.
Gil Menendez has a thaler that hides a poem. A box thaler. I got a look at it during a break in the Seattle Cirque reading. Summer in Seattle, the reading was held at the Wikstrom Brothers’ Gallery near Green Lake. The place was crowded. It was a hot evening. Dressed in skirt, shirt and jacket (Alaska-style) I was overheated but interested in this rare old coin.
The coin has three parts “heads” in a sense, “tails,” and a disc in the center engraved with a poem that might not have been read since it was hidden within the coin some centuries ago. The poem is written in a Low German, Dutch dialect.
Gil plays guitar at Cirque events. He’s a friend of Cirque contributor Charles Leggett, an actor, one who makes his living on the stage, mainly performing at ACT. On the break, those gathered exited to the cooler street. The gallery is a storefront. The neighborhood is Tangle Town. Trees shade the street. The noise of Seattle Transit buses punctuated the reading. Gil showed me an image of a coin that our friend Charles
Box thalers were a popular novelty in certain 17th century states. The two halves could be split open to reveal portraits or pastoral scenes (sometimes even erotic images). They are also known to have contained locks of hair as well as love notes. -Gil Menendez