Two Poems by Todd Boss

Issue 64

Found in Willow Springs 86

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Still We Like to Imagine

that behind the front
desk of every Quality
Inn and Cracker Barrel
in every hamlet in

America there's a girl
just waiting for some
handsome stranger
to linger after the ring
of her cash register,

look into her eyes and
croon Darlin', this town
is too small for a woman
like you, 
but it's just not
true, some women and

their towns are in fact in
perfect proportion to
one another, and some-
times Who you callin'
is the only real

answer to such a question
—never mind what one
would rather do, or who,
if she did go, would
look after mother.


Weren't You a Kid Once, O'Brien

is the question on this sunny
summer Sunday morning
here in the middle of our
block in big block letters in
chalk on the sidewalk in
front of the front walk that
leads to the house of

An indictment,
almost a condemnation,
a sharp stroke of passion,
it was apparently written
by a parent of neighborhood
children whose practical
antics were enough to anger
one or another elder O'Brien.

It's a rhetorical question,
as those of us who come
to this concrete chalkboard
apprehend without having to
know what mishap happened
under the elms or ceilings, in
the presence or the absence
of O'Brien.
We need only
heed the tone of the accuser
to know that no number of
excuses for bad behavior can
out-shout this dustiest one,
this final appeal for a justice
that must—one feels certain
—inspire, as it does in every
one who comes across it, a
curiously human feeling in
our good man O'Brien,
just as his judge had planned,
will have no choice but to change
into a pair of worn chinos
from church clothes,
to its furthest reaches the garden
and stand in the afternoon
hear, in view of us, the members
of his generation
and spray—
till the day's pink neon lesson

is washed into the street and away.

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