Here is the latest installment of Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group.
The Woman In The Safeway Store
Weekday, 7:00A.M. A bit of the rush hour beyond, I thought.
A breath of warmth rushed past the nape of my neck as
I stood in line waiting to pay for a short grocery list
bread, milk, peanut butter and jam.
The heaviness of their breath became apparently noticeable
after seeing the woman in front of me count her pennies and
dimes to pay for a pumpkin pie and three cans of cat food.
The customers tapping the soles of their shoes as though they were
tapping to relieve their anxiety from standing in a line that
was meant for a larger purchases, rather than the
I noticed the older woman’s hands shaking as
she moved the pennies and dimes like chess pieces.
The cashier seemed a bit bothered, my guess from the woman
taking to long.
The deep wrinkles across his forehead deepened as he kept looking
at her, then the customers, apologizing often for the slowness
holding up the line.
The failure of empathy for another human being,
suddenly I became disgusted by their unsettling actions.
I reached into my pocket to recount how much money
I had exactly—fourteen days before getting paid again.
It was then I realized that I didn’t have enough money to pay
for hers and all of mine.
I said to the cashier, put her items on my receipt,
subtract one of the milk and the peach jam.
He said to me, “Are you sure?”
“Oh course,” I said, without hesitation.
After he rung up the purchases,
the woman cried as she hugged and thanked me.
The cashier smiled. The audacity to thanked me,
forgetting that our eyes clashed earlier after I saw him
apologizing to the customers.
And the overly anxiety customers that was still behind me
had to wait because the cashier’s shift ended.
I thought to myself, Karma is certainly the itch in this line.
~ ~ ~ ~
Wandering Through Lessons That Inform Insights
Morning rose as the sun peeked behind his
coffee colored face, a pinch of sweat
dripped from the creases of his flawless skin.
Peter Grant, a fourth grader, was seen wandering
across the neighbor’s lawn, then onto the edge
of the sidewalk waiting for the school bus to arrive.
Kneeling down he grab a handful of the
yellow daisies for Ms. Stella Davidson
his English teacher, today is Appreciation Day.
Suddenly tugged by the collar, thought
I wouldn’t notice the missing daisies,
she says in an undesirable tone. You grubby
little thief, you remind me of a black squirrel
always digging where you don’t belong.
James dear, she screamed out profoundly loudly.
Call the police for this mischievous little nig.
When the men in blue arrived, she quickly pointed out
she wanted the boy arrested for disturbing her daisies
What’s your name son?
I see that you are scared, don’t be.
I saw these daisies, next to the sidewalk
today is Appreciation Day for
my English Teacher Ms. Stella Davidson.
You’re a thoughtful little boy.
He turn his body in an authority manner, clearing his throat.
Ma’am, you should be ashamed of yourself for
calling the police on a young boy for picking
these daises that belong to the city and not you.
I ought to arrest you for your stupidity,
but I’ll let you off with a warning this time.
The officer looked back at Peter. He says in a cheerful voice,
how would you like to ride with the men in blue,
full blast sirens?
Peter’s eyes widened as he hopped into the backseat of
the police car, seatbelt strapped across his chest,
sirens full blast as though the President was in town.
~ ~ ~ ~
Time Well Traveled
I thought I had more time with her, the caseworker I’d come to like
come to rely on, come to spend an awakening hour with
each Friday, 9ish was the ish like a stylish something.
Often with her, I shared stories and poetry, of our fictional travels, private jets,
homes around the world, humanitarians, subject matters, but more
importantly, a kind woman of gratifying thoughts and compassionate
values, 7 1/2 years, I suppose was long enough. I just thought our unauthorized, orthodox relationship would go on forever.
Forever. What a cliché, right?
When she told me that she and her husband were leaving in two weeks for California, San Diego specifically, right then, I felt this uneasiness,
my chest tightening, tears like waves splashing against the openness of my soul.
I felt compounded like, my heart had been ripped out of me, distinctly leaving a hole big enough for me to drown in my own selfishness.
I was bothered by the spread of this unpopular pain that left me with a slight gaze of helplessness, gasping to hang on because in that uncharted moment of nothingness, I didn’t want to see the brightness of light outside of my inner self.
I was a bit angry, confused, uncertain about my life without the Fridays, 9ish,
the ish like in disheartening.
As she kept talking about her sudden leaving, torn I felt, a billion little pieces, I couldn’t wait until the hour was up, so I could hurry along to the bus stop and get home, the need to get into bed, to control those troubling thoughts bared beneath my soul.
Finally, I arrived home, called my sister to talk about the news received, mouth trembling, my throat dry like a warmer day in the Las Vegas desert. I burst into tears, fell to my knees, then somehow through those tears, after, I settled all that existed before, I wanted to know about my sister’s day, wanted to know if she’d had a chance to search through the string of apartments for a place to rent for her and her family.
She created a space of laughter inside me, referencing her oldest son when he was two years old then. A poem titled, “He Read My Lips Through My Eyes,” I’d written about him, manners checked accordingly when out amongst others. I laughed so hard until all of the heartaches that I was feeling were soon gone away.
I realized then in that very moment that our lives are like the seasons, changing yearly. August 2021, the season for her departure had arrived. And while I will miss those crispy Friday mornings, 9ish with her, she has been the epitome of greatness in my life, her soul well traveled, she and I.
~ ~ ~ ~
My journey with writing started in fall of 2017 under the direction of Scott Driscoll, who often teaches writing through Path With Art. The organization provide classes for people who have ongoing trauma in their life. Each spring and fall before the pandemic, Path With Art held concerts at the Seattle Arts Museum where I have performed written poems or stories to an audience of 300. A year ago, I joined Under The Rainbow Writing Group and EPIC Poetry, where I continue to share poetry. I’m planning to write a novel including a collection of poetry and a play.