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Monday, January 24, 2011


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

The man who gave me a quarter at the intersection of Central and the highway exit ramp told me to speak. I smiled and said thank you. He told me to say some more. Cars were honking. I walked away but he drove alongside me. I began to run. He drove faster. I ran into the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. He drove up next to me. I begged him to leave me alone. He took out a phone and said he was videotaping me. I asked him what did he want from me. He said he just wanted me to speak. Say something. Say anything. Let me hear your voice. I saw a bottle near the dumpster. He said I should be sure to smile when I spoke. He said that's how it's done. He said that I should pull my hair back. And try not to show my teeth. He said that he should ask for his quarter back. I picked up the bottle. It would have gotten me a nickel. Unbroken.

Steve Hellyard Swartz is Poet Laureate of Schenectady, NY. He is a frequent contributor to New Verse News. Swartz is a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee for Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Patterson Review, The Southern Indiana Review, The Kennesaw Review, and online at Best Poem and switched-on gutenberg. He is the winner of a First Place Award given by the Society of Professional Journalists for Excellence in Broadcasting. In 1990, Never Leave Nevada, a movie he wrote and directed, opened at the US Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.