Wayne F. Burke


I went shopping at Price Chopper
and walked around pushing my cart
up and down the aisles
and trying to remember what it was
that I needed to buy
and finally
I came to check-out
and pulled in behind a baby
in a bassinet
and I said “hi baby,” and
pulled on the baby’s toes
and he moved his feet a little
but not much
(had a pacifier in his mouth)
the mother, a blonde
had a harried-look to her pinched-face
and three other kids jumping around her
and the cart;
the teenage girl cashier pleasantly curt
the bagger something of a dim-bulb;
I left with my bags
under my arms
and without having connected to
in that place.


my friend Larry’s obituary was not in any
major newspaper;
he was a little man
a home-town creation,
part owner of
a granite shed
one night
pulled another man out of
his, Larry’s, ex-wife’s bed
and when a cop
Larry picked up a shot gun
and pointed it at the cop
who pointed his pistol
in response
and in the stand-off
Larry said, “if you shoot me, I will shoot you,”
and Larry’s relatives
who gathered
shouted at the cop
“shoot him! shoot him!”
but the cop, a rookie
was shaking too much to shoot
and nobody died that
and Larry got off with probation
six months to serve instead
of the years he could have got
and maybe deserved
for aiming a gun
at a cop.


I went to J C Penny’s to buy
a swim suit but
they had nothing remotely resembling
a swim suit, and
I bought a towel instead
and t-shirt with a pocket
(got to have the pocket)
and went home and
took a shower
and was excited to use the
new towel
which was soft and
felt good on my skin,
then I put my new t-shirt on
and walked downtown,
feeling good,
almost like a new man,
and I went to the meeting
it was not much,
same old members
same old blarney
stone shit
I thought
I have got to get me
some kind of
new life.

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