Two Poems

Allene Nichols “Town II”

By Steven Ray Smith

Our old place

Still at the corner of Frontier and Plymouth, 
it reopened last week after a long hiatus 
for repairs to its broken…

well, everything was broken
in there so it could have been anything.

In any event, the lapse
was enough that a new crowd thought it was a new
place and came in and started spending
a lot of money on drinks Ernie had never heard of.

Their conversations were fast. They’d all laugh
suddenly as if everyone understood the punchline before 
it was delivered. That’s how fast they were.

We tried to talk to them about the history, before the repairs, 
but they had this rare ability to appear to be listening
while still naming cocktails Ernie had never heard of.

We felt like visitors to our own history, as if the downtime 
beyond our control turned our simplistic spirit 
and soda highballs into anachronisms.

But the next night, we found a corner
table with dapples of watermarks, not bad enough 
for the renovation, and Ernie came from behind the bar 
with two handfuls of glasses ascending with small bubbles.
And we spread our elbows and enjoyed the space 
of our own old place
while the newcomers did also.


Closed store

Our old store finally closed.
Its glass doors that once opened wide 
into the narrow sidewalk
were outmoded in their garrulous rapport.
Work-a-day loafers and oxfords no longer clipped by,
and so dandelions cracked the cement without a shush.
The new tenants on the block, windows foiled over, survive on the elicit — 
smoking pipes on one side, lingerie with secret flaps on the other.
So sad it was to shoe-polish the old store’s windows, “final 
clearance” and have no one bother, so
most of it simply went into the roll-off before the theretofore unknown landlord
came and chained the door.

Everyone cried.  I also cried, but
not for the finality but for the liberation that closure 
transferred all future solvency to the landlord.