The drugstore down on Glendale
Every Saturday was tense
With people cashing out
Their hours’ pay,
A bottle and a carton
And it’s hardly after nine o’clock.
I knew a man in passing
Who on some days
Had a way of speaking well,
Poking through the aisles in cue
To liquidate his rent and talking up
The finer points of Nietzsche and Camus.
Behind him I was smiles and nods
And ignorance, parsing candy wrapper
Literature and cracks like little deltas
In the checkered tile floor
While from the intercom a sale or two
Twitched aimless overhead.
What a value, “50 lumen flashlights 2 for 1,”
And as we shuffled on, the man I knew
Grew quiet and, some days, angry,
His coffee tempered forehead crumpled
At the limits of his salt-and-pepper hair.
“Half off reading glasses”
Vented frantically above the ghostly
Hum of trapped fluorescent gas in bulbs.
And he would hiss and boo the bargains
As he scuffed toward the clerk,
A little more malevolent, this man,
Than last we talked.
Another Saturday, and all the flashlights
Now are fully prices,
The register dispersing cash
It knows is out on loan.