Dollar General

This is the dark side of the earth,
roads glassy, the landscape all butter, lint, and unfamiliar in headlights,
people unhappy, unprepared and desperate to be generous,
forgetting something and feeling foreign. Can’t believe it.
This brief responsibility already stretching into shame.
Wrapping paper and lists. Last minutes.
Pickups parked in a row and left running in the cold,
drivers or passengers waiting, heads forward,
watching a woman hunched in her mammoth pelt, ancient,
shaking a tilted cup to spread salt on the glazed sidewalk,
punching holes in sheet metal ice as if she is feeding chickens.
Enter and Exit. Happy Holidays. Here is the door to what is left:
Kippered herring in oil and expiration date food
On Sale with vampire films and silver balloons. Get Well Soon!
No heirlooms here, and the Chinese plastic toys
making shoppers wonder what they must imagine of us
as they melt our manic expressions together in factories.
The alien eyes of long blonde women with straight pink legs,
and all the mustached men with weapons.
We look at ourselves on shelves, lunatics, the warning signs all there,
hung by the romance novels and coloring books:
No Parking, No Smoking, No Trespassing,
Help Wanted,
CLOSED, OPEN, KEEP OUT.
Empty threats for exiles passing by,
and tomorrow the year will start rushing toward this day again.

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