Two Poems

by Rachael Hershon


Change for a Twenty


Strings of blue and
pink neon open at
Margaret’s Wash N’ Dry.
My bundle still
in her dryer after
my eight hours, plus transit.
Fluorescent bulbs spit their
tinny buzz across the walls.
Tide and cigarettes.
She herself paces past.
Greedy, glaring eyes hungry
for hundreds in quarters.
Blade nose could pop
holes in salt-choked tires.
The old bitch watches me
fold and leave.


Tall glass caps the
storefront. Outside,
leaves curl to shells,
branches creak to
wind as day slows
and shrinks early
to darkness.


Inside Amy’s Convenience,
two grease-beards
hunch over keno
and sacrifice whole paychecks.
I point to the number 20s.
Green and purple rolls
glimmer beneath the case
of Marlboros. Rahul
smells like ash and cologne.
A mustached smirk flashes
as he pinches my pink palm,
kisses the cracked clammy flesh
and whispers, Of course,
you’re eighteen now.


You emerge from the store
you’ve managed for six years,
grounded on a cratered lot
with brown water islanded

by flattened Coronas. Lines
of rigged up cars reflect
neon ribbons beneath a sky
raucous with motorcycles

and sirens. The smell
of a crusted fryolator steeps
the uneven sidewalks. You’re
cross-eyed with a Marlboro lipped

flask at the ready. Each night
the same woman watches you—
dirty hair, capillaried eyes—from across
the street in her tower
of brick and metal.

She buries her hands
in a brown bag swollen
with wontons and oil.
Sunken eyes meet yours

as she tears the red
and white box,
sucks the grease
from her quick fingers.

You thought you’d be after
better things, but now
dreams of her mouth
stroke you to sleep.

Rachael Hershon‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in A Quiet Courage, The Avalon Literary Review, Poetry Quarterly, and Red Eft Review. She is originally from Framingham, MA, USA and is currently an undergraduate studying English and Creative Writing at Brandeis University.

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