One-Horse Town Life
Over coffee and a cigarette she’ll tell you
about her one-horse town life.
The one paved with lies where the only stop sign was truth but she ran it
cold and just kept going on a ride she calls pain that she learned to harness a long time ago.
The ticking of an old clock
Mingles with the sound of the radical talk show host
AMwaves crawling up the walls to the metal rooftop
The owner steps up
You’re a writer. Do you know what a split infinitive is?
It is an accusation - not a question.
In another place on the same day
the air is acrid with the smell of regret
Or leather or shoe polish or the motor oil of an old machine
His filthy arms trailing down to the black underneath his fingernails
It’s a presumption. Not a question.
She’s slowly filling her
empty intellectual arsenal
stealing wisdom when she can and building
ideas as crumbs
fall from the table where only the sophomoric
are invited to sit or to speak or to write.
An aurora borealis of philosophy and biology swirls in her coffee cup and she thinks it is here the key to the future is forged for isn’t it here
that the curtain rises for an encore performance by the dull while
the cerebral applaud and
corruption and greed are fast partners if it means time can be lassoed.
But she knows it can’t so
she spend hers collecting crumbs.
Shellie Richards’ work has previously appeared in Bartleby Snopes (Winner, story of the month, January 2012), theBelmont Literary Journal, The Chaffey Review, Vanderbilt University’s Tabula Rasa and Pyrokinection. She lives in Nashville with her husband and three children. She works at Vanderbilt University where she edits scientific papers for publication and is currently finishing an M.A. in English (writing). She has just completed writing her first novel.