This poem is from Hugo Dewar’s 1981 collection Arsy-Versy World. The collection brings together work from the 40s through to 1981. This particular poem was written in the 1970s.
The moneymen will tell you they cannot use their hands
while sterling on the market like a beggar stands,
that all those that are able to count from one to ten,
must know you cannot balance books if you count the cost in men.
It grieves them very greatly, it goes against the grain
to give the poor and needy so much worry, so much pain;
but surely all will understand it doesn’t make real sense
to put the fate of common folk before the pounds and pence.
Don’t think it’s saws and hammers, chisels, trowels, spades and picks;
don’t think it’s digging footings, mixing mortar, laying bricks;
don’t think it’s human brains and skills, human labour, human sweat,
to bank on these they’ll tell you, will just increase the debt.
For Moneymen don’t count with men, as unemployment mounts;
they only count with money – for only money counts.