Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Owed to the 99 Cent Store by Joshua Bennett

Owed to the 99 Cent Store

You are a kind of utopia,
you know. God’s garage.
magic, how you tug
on a dollar bill
until it becomes an open
field, how you mock semiotics,
offering products which often
belie your professed mission,
your wondrous intentions,
all these too-expensive toasters,
fragile dishes, ironing boards
that make Mom appeal to American
Express as backup, her escape
route from unplanned shame.
You ain’t have to do us like that.
But I peeped game, I know you
just like everyone else, hoping
to hustle your way off
this ziggurat block, all these
poor folks stacked on top
of one another like tropes.
Your true currency
is the cheer of children,
the love of learners
under duress, black or white
notebooks I still call upon
in hopes that these,
my most harried dreams,
might have rest, shelter
when smartphones give in,
fading to moonless wan
like everything else
around here. You persist.
You tenacious meditation
on excess. You candy bars
& batteries when pilot
lights kissed us no more
& Swedish Fish
were the best high we know
or could afford.
You smorgasbord.
You sweet ecology.
You philosophy of boys
that have not yet learned
the wiring of value.
You neon name.
You anti-nihilism.
You clarion call
to the righteous
singing come fill
& be filled

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