Jack Rabbit Slims Convenience Store

Kerry James Evans

It sits between the Dollar General
and Rescue Alley, begging
for change, white sign
with a Jack Rabbit dressed
like a ’40s gangster. Smug grin,  
he leans against a lamppost,
his cane no more relevant
than the red suspenders
clamped to his slacks.
In the parking lot sits a trailer,
where a guy who goes by Dino
sells fireworks with names
like Falcon Rising, Sexy Rider,
and Bada Bing! Bada Boom!
Nancy burns one out back,
and rumors about town
contend the ladies love Dino
for his sparklers and not for
his cherry bombs, which might
mean anything in Sulligent, Alabama,
where things are still simple
enough for a scratch-off ticket
and half-a-tank of non-ethanol gas
—a reminder on the way home
that there is more to life
than barely making it. Why,
right at your foot a 1952
wheat penny shimmers like
a pinky swear in a schoolyard.

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Human Habitat

Some did not want to alter the design
when the failure message
said massive problem with oxygen.
Some wanted to live full tilt with risk.

By then we were too weak for daily chores:
feeding chickens, hoeing yams,
calibrating pH this and N2 that . . .
felt like halfway summiting Everest.

We didn’t expect the honeybees
to die. Glass blocked the long-wave
light that guides them.
Farm soil too rich in microbes

concrete too fresh ate the oxygen.
We had pressure problems,
recalibrating the sniffer.  Bone tired
I reread Aristotle by waning light.

Being is either actual or potential. 
The actual is prior to substance. 
Man prior to boy, human prior to seed,
Hermes prior to chisel hitting wood. 

I leafed through Turner’s England,
left the book open at Stonehenge. 
A shepherd struck by lightning lies dead,
dog howling, several sheep down too.

The painter gave gigantic proportion
to sulphurous god rimmed clouds
lightning slashing indigo sky
while close at hand lie fallen stones

dead religion, pages dusty
brown leaf shards gathering
in the gutter yet I cannot turn the page
wondering what I am and when

in the story of life my life is taking place.   
Now what.  No shepherd. No cathedral.
How is it then that I read love
in pages that lie open before me?