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Robert McGough

Bob Early’s Grocery Store in Arkansas

In front, the grocery basket is full

of watermelons. There are only four.


On this day the bicycles stand

unchained to the posts they lean on.


The thermometer assures the street,

“Dr Pepper Hot or Cold,”


while the new Coke machine waits

for the day it too will be


like the screen door:

old, dented


and used to children’s hands.

Fat Bob Early looks out late


today, remembering

the watermelons in the heat.


The afternoon lies on the ground

in small



He puffs outside


and looks past the watermelons;

what is thrilling is his son’s red bike.


Sidling past the basket, he looks—

yes, the street is quiet as it sounds—


hoists himself onto the thin bike,

a watermelon on wheels


likely to fall and break open

until the bike’s shuddering fit passes


and the wheels straighten.

Past front windows packed with neighbors


Fat Bob Early rides, laughing

first from fear and then speed,


out of the town

into Arkansas

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