13 Ways of Looking at a Tax Return

A poem for the taxed and confused

Dan Geddes
Human Parts


Photo: mediaphotos/Collection: E+/Getty Images

With apologies to Wallace Stevens and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”


April is the cruelest month,
when youthful hearts with passion burn,
and everyone else must
file an income tax return.


Draft versions of her tax return,
lie crumpled on the table,
stained by her coffee cup,
like pages from an unfinished fiction.


A man and a woman are one.
A man and a woman and a tax return
are one (if filing jointly).


She thought secrets
more guarded than diaries
are locked away in our hearts,
and found in our tax returns.


She remembered the old Zen koan:
“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
And thought of her own:
“What is the sound of a tax return,
in a strong wind, flapping?”



Dan Geddes
Human Parts

Editor of The Satirist (thesatirist.com) America’s Most Critical Journal; satirist, critic, standup in Amsterdam