Poetry from J. K. Durick

Convenience stores

Convenience stores must be easy, out there alone, late;

around here two or three get held up each week, as if

there were a quota on them. It’s easy to picture, the lone

clerk dozing a bit by the register when the guy comes in,

the only person in the store, brandishes a weapon, they

always say brandish for these guys, either a gun or knife

or what looks like a weapon, and the minimum wage night

clerk always turns over the cash, an undetermined amount

they always say, and then he’s gone back out into the night,

so often around here the bandit leaves the scene on foot, as

if familiar with his or her surroundings, some local talent

perhaps; then on the evening news they will show pictures of

the thief, caught on the convenience store’s security camera

and we are told to call the police if we recognize this person,

a person who someone will know, a person who, more often

than not is caught. It’s as if convenience stores have become

the stage, the backdrop for this predictable play, this tired story

about our world, a dark lonely place where it seems as if we

either tend the till or come in from the night brandishing or

pretending to brandish a weapon, then leave with a hard to

determine amount of money, leaving behind each time just

enough of ourselves that we get our picture on TV and finally

someone recognizes for what we are and calls it in.

  It Just Happens

What happens to truth, when everything

becomes “political,” when “alternate facts”

pass as point of view, when they call

the disagreeable “fake news,” when

everyone says “politically correct,” when

“correct” becomes a diminished thing, when

incorrect somehow becomes a superior place

to be, when evidence for what we say isn’t

necessary, when if we repeat a lie long

enough and loud enough, it becomes sort of

true or sometimes true or true enough,

when, as Orwell warned us, political speech

is “largely the defense of the indefensible,”

when faulty memories of certain things are

acceptable answers, when the supposedly

honorable people aren’t honorable enough

to be embarrassed by it all? What then happens

to truth when we no longer care about it?


J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Social Justice Poetry, PoetryRepairs, Stanzaic Stylings, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Autumn Sky Poetry.