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midnight safeway run

standing in line
at number 10, the only open register
in the menlo park safeway
a foot past midnight
women shelving & stocking along the aisles
me cradling cheap store-brand fig bars
multi-grain crackers &
two airbags of some fancy herb-flavored potato chips
on sale for $2.69 each
& keeping to myself
when i heard the guy behind me
mid-30’s with the most dimpled chin
I have ever seen under afternoon shadows
asking if he can get ahead
words slurring & slushing like a wet mop in the snow
says that his wife is sick & doesn’t think
he has ever touched a living person
so hot
almost crying
though he seemed like a proud man
(& I guess that's love)
the tremor from not-knowing (or buying time)
& resorting to blind hope
in his voice
giving this quiet roadside joint more life
than a weekend afternoon
his grip
on the electric thermometer & acetaminophen
so hard that the packagings warped
I said “yeah go ahead”
too fast & too many times to come off as caring
(although I did, I really did)
but he was already at the freezer
grabbing a 20lb bag of ice
& running back to the register
then looking back at me
to say thank you
the way you would to someone
who just saved your wife from brain damage or seizures
& maybe I did
maybe the minute I gave him could have made
some difference
though I'd prefer it not
that is too much power
for a living over another living:
one buying junk food as if sleeping pills
one waiting with hopefully a pillow beneath her head
equally helpless
another minute went by
& he left
looking back with one last thank you—
another two seconds
what is it to the package haulers at this graveyard hour
to that sick scarlet woman
an endless night to wake up for
& maybe a minute to wake up in.

28 Jul 11

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the menlo park safeway closes at 11 pm

brought to you by the committee for "keeping art . . . real"
 — Clara

uhhhh, no it does not.

brought to you by the committee for "letting actual residents tell the story"

p.s. if you are simply misinformed, then I apologize for the snide remark above. However, please refrain from insulting my writing, especially if it is based on something that I KNOW to be false (...because I was at the store a few hours ago...)
 — Sequiturist

Clara, being rude and arrogant isn't keeping anything real.
 — unknown

nice seq.
L49 reads a bit off though. did you mean 'sleeping pills?'
 — mandolyn

@mandolyn, thanks and yes. you're a pleasant critic as always. :)
 — Sequiturist

god dude anal or what?

it was a drive by vermouth kind of night last night.

but now that you mention it rather petulantly . . . ahem . .

i wasnt insulting your poem. that is your misguided interpretation of my comment.

are you insecure?


yah i was at the store also. menlo park. cali?

Sorry you took offense. no offense meant

Sleepwalking Sleeptalkin Clara
 — unknown

I love the ending.
 — unknown

powerful. kudos for capturing the beauty of the ordinary.
 — unknown

I haven't been to the store since I was a kid. But I love the compassionate young spirit in this! I lived this story over & over ( too many times)--the story of encountering someone in the public, who always has a story if they want something out of you. I've become too jaded. Thanks for a refreshing look at these people.
 — Seditswing

Thanks, Seditswing. Moments like these remind me of just how much beauty and love we have in this world. :)
 — Sequiturist