Monday, December 23, 2013

Gene McCormick- Two Poems

Night Vision


A small white paper bag, empty of doughnuts and napkins, slides off the car’s console between the front seats to the passenger side floor, a bit of vanilla icing crumbling to the mat. Flakes of snow waft outside the windshield. It’s below zero.

Around the corner from deepest shadows wearing dark, dark black sunglasses with white frames, like eyewear of a sightless person, a woman enters the street, a gloved hand bracing on the corner light pole. Beneath the illumination she can see and be seen, but not much better than when enveloping shadows wrapped the corner of the black-red brick wall, involuntarily filtering the surroundings like the blink of an eye, except slower.

Music is heard. Not loud; unrecognizable notes.

A crumpled white paper bag blows across the alley, caught in an updraft. There are no birds. Why would there be birds flying this late at night?

The neighborhood bar, twenty steps back around the corner with only a two-word red neon sign to penetrate the blackness, offers a front door with a brass-toned knob, round, that fits the palm of your hand  like knobs on residential doors. Like home. A glass of whiskey is ordered, wet brown whiskey poured carelessly over ice in a squat, transparent glass by a bartender with the gnarly fingers of an ex-fighter. Nondescript, an unbuttoned black vest partially covers a white dress shirt, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Polyester black pants have a worn, shiny seat which is unusual since a bartender, a good one, rarely sits down but, yes, the seat pants are shiny.

Her polished index finger traces the bottom of the glass on the bar. It’s quiet. Quiet so the squeak of her finger is an affront.

It is past closing time and when Cranky Jack’s reopens the next morning the shadows will be on the far edge of the building along the other side of the alleyway, and there will be no finger mark on the bar top.

Public Library

Four adults, three men and a woman,
sit at two adjoining tables in the library’s
Designated Quiet Study Area.
One man is reading a magazine,
another works from spiral-bound notebooks,
the third reads a newspaper and much too loudly
rapidly turns the pages.
The woman works on her laptop
as the man with the newspaper looks over the top
of the pages at a library attendant replacing books
in the non-fiction section (000-339).
She wears a winter-weight sweater and slacks,
both at least one size too small.
As the man yawns she bends to the lowest shelf
revealing a band of pink underwear
between her sweater, tawny skin and slacks.

During the course of a half hour maybe ten people
walk by to look for shelved books.
No one else sits down. The problem with
Designated Quiet Study Areas is that sounds
of any sort are amplified: feet dragging
along the carpet, pages turning,
a cell phone musical.
When the spiral-bound notebook man
communicate to the woman with the laptop
—they seem to have come together—
he mouths soundless words and she
nods her head in understanding.

Even the colors, bold primary
reds, blues, greens, of low-lying
shelved plastic-bound text notebooks
offend the senses. A young girl stops by
to spin the globe atop the text book shelves
and when it stops she spins it again
and then pushes empty chairs at the table
flush to the table, each one making a bonk
that would be unheard in other sections.
She is yes annoying, and the library attendant
with the pink band of underwear finishes shelving
and leaves.  Even chewing gum,
as the laptop woman is doing, can be heard.
Gum should be chewed and not heard.

The fluorescent lighting is built into the ceiling
encased in cube-shaped egg crate-like squares,
thirty-two to a block of lights
which causes the lighting on the far side
of the Designated Quiet Study Area
to appear dusky, soothing to the eyes.

There would be less foot traffic
and therefore less commotion if the
Designated Quiet Study Area wasn’t adjacent
to the Magazines and Newspapers section
which attracts library-goers less sensitive
to the intellectually pacific needs
of those at the two Quiet tables.

The woman working at the laptop
Is probably not be married to the serious man
with the spiral notebooks for while
she wears a ring on her left hand where
a wedding band would go it is a
costume jewelry ring of a few pieces of turquoise.
He wears no ring but looks over at her
every ten minutes or so like an egg timer.
He has a three-day beard growth;
his smile is sincere and when he smiles
she jiggles her foot under the table.
He doesn’t notice her reaction but continues
to yellow highlight selected lines
in the spiral notebook.

Yesterday a tornado, a series of them, tornadoes,
flattened much of a nearby farming community
thirty miles yet a world apart from
readers in the hermetic
Designated Quiet Study Area although it
would not be outlandish to suppose that the man
reading newspapers was current events savvy
and noted that one person had been
killed by tornado debris.

Brief Bio: Gene McCormick likes to hang out at the local library and snap the pink underwear waistbands of foxy librarians as they bend over to pick up enticing pieces of candy he uses as bait.


  1. Ah, poetry that tells stories, reveals the quirky side of life. Keep snapping that pink underwear, my friend! Whatever they say to the contrary, librarians love the attention.