[a revision of one I posted years ago]
The spreadsheet is all before you. The farther
left you travel, the more desirable things become.
Indeed the items named seem not just necessary
but inevitable, prophesied. As you travel toward
the reckoning right hand of calculation, acquisition
seems unlikely. You think of Zeno's Paradox.
You begin to feel an urge to save rubber-bands
and bits of string, to eat left-overs, sew
your own clothes, share your food with
people society discounts. When you finally arrive
in the severe, humorless zone of the numbers-column,
you then descend toward the hell of the Bottom Line,
which is, oddly enough, shown by two lines.
At that frontier, expenses devour entrails of income.
Accountants costumed in gray feathers perform
a ghastly arithmetical dance. You hear someone
mumble, "Nothing we can afford is worth doing,"
to which you respond, "Nothing worth doing
is quantifiable," which you don't believe.
You stand up and demand to know the origin
of money. You are forcibly subtracted
from the room. As you depart, you
hear someone say, "I think we just found
some extra money in the budget!"