Found poem based on Wikipedia’s article on Joss paper
The dead dwell in the natural world,
influencing fortunes and fates of the living.
Business owners burn spirit money
in red braziers and set out offering tables
on the sidewalk for gods and ghosts.
Relatives ensure ancestors’ well-being,
and positive disposition of the deceased:
folding and stacking paper money
of outrageous denominations into gold ingots,
elaborate pagodas and lotuses.
Precise distinctions are important
to prevent confusion or insult of spirits:
cash monies to the newly deceased,
silver to ancestral spirits,
river money to unrelated ghosts.
Jenni B. Baker (website) is the editor-in-chief of The Found Poetry Review and currently works as a nonprofit writer and editor in the Washington, D.C. area. Her works have appeared in a dozen publications including InDigest Magazine, The Newport Review and BluePrintReview.