One day I remember walking down to Seaton’s, the corner drugstore, to pay the utility bills, slow summer day, rather long letter to post, the air out salubrious somehow I can’t now seem to explain, yet a lugubrious senescence settles over me as on my walk I feel myself aging.

I waited at Seaton’s small post office window for the clerk Amelia to weigh and post my letter, and I also purchase a half page of stamps. “Drugstore Cowboy commemorative page,” Amelia smiles.

I then browsed the aisles for knickknack knockoffs, picked up a last-second gift card, and waited to watch a strawberry malt whipped up for a little girl, the pink stuff spilled from hand held lade ladles handled delicately – Amelia’s vessels of oak and wool woven sails as she spun the concoction. Here again I feel a portage of age from one bondage portal to my next epochal position.

In other words, I felt upside down, the company store closed, and caught up in Gas, Oil, Electric, Water, and Phone Bills, living in an age of fossil-fuel habits, in a diseased society. Ridden in and on, no cure here, piece of the old neighborhood, now dead letter drugstore while drone dreary mosquitoes fill the air with gewgaw.

After a certain age one needs a bandage for these running nosebleed memories, gushers full of anxious distress that won’t stop, triggered by diesel fuel, tomato leaf, weary roses, yellow fields under blue skies, abstracted and expressed tinctures of asphalt potholed streets and crumbling cement sandy cracked sidewalks, the iron wagon wheel curb spats rounding the corners rusted and twisted, most of the round iron horse tie rings missing. A few remain into a new age, quite useless – vestige.

Outside the drugstore the young woman shares the malted with her daughter on the prescription waiting bench. A lumbering bus pulls over and stops, air brakes, release of gas, its doors open, no one moves, the driver closes the doors and lifts away. Now for my nose bleed red pepper snuffed up my nostril for stoppage.

“Sorry,” squeezing onto bench, happy girl and malt between me and mom, “bit of nosebleed going, must sit still few moments.”

“What did you just snort?” the mother asks.

“Cayenne pepper,” I say amid staunch southeaster pink sneeze blow.

“Would you like to borrow my napkin?” says the polite bright girl, who sees no spoilage in sharing the bench with the old man with the silly bloody nose spillage.

A bloody nose like a poem. “Bye-bye. Bye-bye.” Off walks maltage and mom, and the bloody nose draws to a close, but I storage the napkin in a pocket for future use.


Joe Linker has published two novels, “Penina’s Letters” and “Coconut Oil,” and a children’s book, “Scamble and Cramble: Two Hep Cats and Other Tall Tales.” “Saltwort” is a collection of selected poetical writings. Shorter works have appeared in Berfrois, Queen Mobs Tea House, The Christian Science Monitor, The Oregonian, Glasgow Review of Books, Rocinante, The Sultan’s Seal, VerseType, Miriam’s Well, Silent Quicksand, and at the blog The Coming of the Toads.

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