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Thursday, June 08, 2006


by Verandah Porche

1. Police Lobby

Immaculate marble, wet paint, putty-gray:
three girls wait to file their plaint.
--You a lawyer?
Me: No, you need one?
--She does.
Samantha (name changed, blonde
with a smacked face) relates,
--I’m like, ‘Stop staring. You queer? ’
& he hits me here!
(His red hand, still faintly visible.)

Dorita & Carmela chime in
with their crimes, killing time in a fun-free town.

Now chitchat.
Me: Where will you be in ten years?
Dorita (smiling, unhesitant): ‘You want fries with that?’
Samantha: Probably picking bottles from the trash.
Carmela: Me? I’ll be a famous rapper…smoking up
on my front porch…Honestly, we’re burning a CD now.

Carmela edits out loved substances when I say,
--O, may I quote you?

2. Off Gray Street

Pulse moon, full strobe. Officer no-neck
tilts at a car window, reads a riot act to
a local boy with so-so sobriety
who shrinks in his chassis.
Crime of cutting corners; smoke & mirrors.

Between the blinds on Gray Street
life aches. Leaves itch to fall
as they peel away.

3. Defunct Dunkin Donuts

sells nothing but holes. Lo & behold!
marbled tables, tufted chairs, dust
for customers. Scratch art scarifies facades.
Ah, edgy beauty, ennui
etched by car key, pen knife.

Broad daylight on the donut lot:
Girls whisper. Pick-up kisses car. No spark.
Guys bend under hoods. Snake out
their cables. Hook-up. Flick, hiss, rev.
Friends with benefits
jumpstart, veer apart.

4. Heat Wave before Halloween

Downtown vogues toward Christmas.
Men in shirtsleeves unearth wreathes
and ropes of faux fir; stretch tethered
lights across cornices & street trees.

Trick or treat. Down the strip
sun slashes its hours.

5. By Ollie’s Convenience

Pixie-girl asks: Lady, why the cart?
You collect bottles and cans?

Dad parks a lit cig on the window ledge to enter
a moment & ends our chat with a roll of Smartees.

Grackles hunt & peck at vacancy of Value City.
I park the laptop open on my knees…

          Remember Henry Cushman, father
          of the rubber eraser, notable native son.

          Truth & consequence erode.
          Write like the river.
          Speak your mind
          & be mum.

Based in rural Vermont since 1968, Verandah Porche has published The Body’s Symmetry (Harper and Row) and Glancing Off (See Through Books) and has pursued an alternative literary career. She has written poems and songs to accompany her community through a generation of moments and milestones. As a teacher and facilitator, she has created collaborative writing projects in schools and nontraditional settings: literacy and crisis centers, hospitals, factories, nursing homes, senior centers, a 200 year-old Vermont tavern and an urban working class neighborhood. Her work has been featured on NPR’s “Artbeat,” on public radio stations around New England and in the Vermont State House. The Vermont Arts Council awarded her a Citation of Merit, honoring her contribution to the state’s cultural life in 1998, and a recent grant to support the preparation of poetry for publication and performance.