“Better dead than red.” ~The Nation, July 9, 1930
Can we start with a version
where the wheelbarrow is green
or purple or orange?
I’m not paranoid, I’m
not paranoid, I’m not…
… a chicken. I’m a bluebird
scavenging seeds, scraps spilled
from a feeder up above,
wary of cats that lurk nearby,
hidden among the chaos
of apathetic undergrowth.
A buyer asked about a missing order:
When did it ship? When would it arrive?
Could I provide a tracking number?
His address was in Harmony,
Pennsylvania, a place I knew well
from a single visit long ago.
I wanted to tell him a story
about a Sunday night in 1979.
It featured a young couple,
a crying baby, a ‘65 Ambassador
with bald tires, a blown head gasket,
and a Dairy Queen manager who
insisted an order be made
before he’d lend his telephone.
Tracking said the package was
undeliverable as addressed and held
at the local Post Office for pick up.
I relayed this information
and tracking number to the buyer,
repressing an urge to say more.
I wanted to tell him how I
remember this tiny town
beside I-79 with no
how dark the highway;
how cold the air; how dry
a Brazier Burger tastes when
bought with your last dollar.
M. Scott Douglass grew up in Pittsburgh and lives in Charlotte, NC. He is Publisher/Managing Editor of Main Street Rag, a Pushcart Prize nominee and NC ASC Grant recipient. His graphic design work has earned two PICA Awards and an Eric Hoffer Award nomination. Previous books include Just Passing Through, Hard to Love, Steel Womb Revisited, Balancing on Two Wheels, and Auditioning for Heaven.