The Shine Journal

Exceptional Flash, Poetry, Art and Photography!

 Three From Derek Richards




lady agnes still believes in full serve

ridin' with my uncle dale to work
was like spending rush hour
with a corpse
each morning he would wave to an old lady
moving among the cars
at jerry's pump and serve
it was the most exciting thing i'd
ever seen him do

who is that?
he'd just waved
and i just wanted to see his lips move
as proof a dead man wasn't driving
lady agnes, son, that there is lady agnes

for the next two weeks the highlight of my day
was my uncle coming to life each morning
after he'd waved
telling me all about the old lady
who always wore checkered flannel
and a red sox cap flipped backwards

a career begun in '96
an ex-husband ran off with their life savings
and a postal worker named jill

back then my uncle was selling
scratch tickets at jerry's pump and serve
for seven dollars an hour
agnes confronted jerry himself
about the shortage of older women pumping gas
two days later she clicked the pumps on
at 6:59 a.m. and hasn't stopped since

if you spend more than $10
agnes will also check your oil,
clean your windshield
and give you a brief summary
of last night's sox game

my uncle dale remembered fondly the day
jerry informed his employees
that the pump and serve would be shifting
two of its pump to self serve
you got no right, jerry,
she'd scolded,
it's your store but it's my life

lady agnes is nearly seventy years old
single and willing to every male customer
under twenty-five
she's kept jerry's a full-serve station
for nearly fifteen years
long enough to find the pulse
in my uncle dale

***originally pub. in Ghoti Magazine

dialogue of faith and highway

thumbs are broken
hitch-hiking blind the night it rained
boulders on a hazy highway
south of the city

intimate conversations
with a bottle of Nightrain
and a gypsy moth
lost for a hiccup of thought
or a heavy quilt
of spiritual progress

someday i'm going to find a front door
fitting the key in my pocket
the girl of my dreams
no growling dogs
no angry fence
lets turn up the heat, honey,
it's so cold out there
brown eyes

back is broken
carrying dense fragments of fallen universe
up and down senseless hills
waiting for the sunrise
praying away cages
dancing along the yellow line with a limp
and an aggravated faith

someday i'm going to breathe softly
read a book before bed
light a room of passive candles
quit smoking
eat a meal on clean dishes and wash
the filthy vodka down the sink
lets go to bed, honey,
we've both got to work tomorrow
simple lips

there's a truck slowing down up ahead
feels like rain
my throat is an ache of cheap wine
and buried apologies
i'm going home
the truck stops and an old man waves
me inside
where you going, son?


head of the table

fear is
nervous maneuvers of fork
napkins unfolded
timid sips of water
clench the throat dry
pull the lips tight

father is in the kitchen
mixing his drink
ice thunders against glass
tiles howl and whisper
beneath unbalanced breath

my sister is always unaware
of the shy moan
buzzing past her tongue

my brother fixates
on the candle flame

my mother smiles
a resolve to wilt
and stutter
and obey

the refrigerator door closes
the smell of whiskey
father appears
sits at the head of the table
cuts his steak mad
and deciding
which one

i caress the spokes
of the steak knife
hum old blues
dare myself to hold his stare

tonight, father
bruises are badges
scars are battle songs
i am the oldest



Motivation: acclaim, money, sex, politics, drugs, alcohol, acceptance, respect

Bio: After performing for years, as both a musician and poet, in and around the Boston area, Derek Richards has recently decided to begin submitting his work for publication. So far he has been accepted for publication in Ghoti Magazine, Lung, MediaVirus, Word Riot,  Right Hand Pointing, Tinfoildresses, The Legendary, Breadcrumb Scabs, Shoots and Vines, Cantaraville, Soundzine, The Centrifugal Eye, Strong Verse, Underground Voices, River Poets Journal and Halfway Down the Stairs.  His poetry aims to be direct and honest, brilliant and lucrative. He is currently residing in Gloucester, Mass., happily engaged and cleaning windows for a living.

Email TSJ: Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

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