|Red Oaks Mill dam - after collapse. Image source: Ed Nisley's Blog|
At the crossroads, they call it Red Oaks Mill on the AAA map,
in an empty obeisance to some historic past.
Mill is gone, dam remains but crumbling,
the red oaks have long been dead.
Empty strip mall stores stare
blindly at each other across the highway.
The Sunny Day Gift Shop
and its Korean proprietor are gone
with the Hallmark cards
cheerily celebrating birthdays, weddings,
mothers' and secretaries' day,
along with Michael who made flower and fern
arrangements prettily next door.
Paper taped to plate glass makes mirrors of windows
reflecting upon absence, loss, and death.
Liquor, Wine and Lotto,
respite from diminishing reality,
has moved along to cheaper digs.
Phil the pharmacist has been absorbed
by a glittering Rite Aid
expanded to sell Wonderbread, Campbell Soup, Twinkies, Kraft Cheddar, and beer
because Grand Union is gone,
directed by numbers from a foreign land.
Closed, the lost Burger King where too slow moving beef and fries
incinerated some franchised American Drive-Thru Dream.
The former hardware store owner wears
an orange apron at a distant Home Depot and smiles
when he makes eye contact
and perhaps, perhaps not, when he
receives his regular hired hand's paycheck.
The farm is foreclosed and subdivided,
Black Angus finished by abattoir,
not even picturesque tumbleweeds blown
against abandoned fences
but pools, dentists, and barbecues rampant.
Lawns staked through the heart with signs of Century 21.
Most recently Howard Winn had poems and fiction published in The Dalhousie Review, Descant (Canada), Cactus Heart, Main Street Rag, Caduceus, Burning Word, Pennsylvania Literary Journal. Southern Humanities Review, Cutting Edgz and Borderlands. His B. A. is from Vassar College. His graduate degree is from the Writing Program at Stanford University. His doctoral work was done at New York University. He is a State University of New York faculty member.