They bloom and loom in cities no one notices.
High-walled, million-bricked, a roof on cloud turf.
All the letters and numbers are here, all the senses.
Even if you don’t need a tub of mayo or a Monet
knockoff, it’s nice to know you know where to go.
Into the traffic of carts and chattering a woman
merges with a dozen boxes of Kleenex Softique.
A man in overalls reads out loud his shopping list
as if uttering ceremonial phrases. When one
looks closely at the display cabinets that hold
the glittering watches, one’s breath on the glass
is an apparition playing peek-a-boo. I’m flatfooted
in the last row in the furthest aisle. I’m feverish
with colored spots fireworking in my periphery.
I hear someone say, Here we don’t die, we shop.
I hear someone reply, Once we stop denying death,
everything tastes better. Meanwhile, a forklift
beeps as it lowers crates of strawberries, hundreds
huddled between the wooden slats. Little hearts.
Hungry tongues. It depends who you believe.
David Hernandez’s third poetry collection, Hoodwinked, won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize. His other collections are Always Danger (Southern Illinois University Press, 2006), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, and A House Waiting for Music (Tupelo Press, 2003). His YA novels include No More Us for You and Suckerpunch, both published by HarperCollins. His poems have appeared in FIELD, The Threepenny Review, Ploughshares, AGNI, TriQuarterly, and The Missouri Review. David lives in Long Beach, California, and is married to writer Lisa Glatt. Visit his website at davidahernandez.com. (updated 4/2013)