by Dan Senn

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The smoke shop
on Main Street,
where I went
to buy “pucks”,
was called

These were
incense sticks
used to light sparklers,
or firecrackers,
for we had
no concept
of what incense was
in those days.

I loved this shop
for the smells
of chewing and pipe tobacco,
the beautifully carved
and curvy pipes
like those
my Grandfather smoked.

I loved this shop
for its candy bars,
and waxy-like tubes,
with sweet juice inside.

But, I also loved this shop
for the magazines
with mostly naked ladies
on the covers
burned my eyes.

The man
at the front of the store
by the small, black
cash register
was named Ernie
who talked little
and then… softly…
cuz… he was
always listening.

He was skinny,
had a crew cut,
penny loafers,
and a tiny pack
of cigarettes
rolled up 
in his white
ironed T-shirt.

His eye glasses
were thick and smudgy
like the bottom
of an old
Coke bottle.

He seemed
never to be looking
at anything.

He listened.

His ears told him everything
for he had installed
a highly sophisticated
audio detection system
in the floor
which squeaked differently
at different places
and then
ever so differently still
if your weight
had shifted
by as little
as a half whisper.

This must
have cost Ernie thousands
as it prevented me and others
from leaning in
on the wonderful
girly magazines.

Even the door jingled
when coming and going

DS 011619
ęDan Senn 2019


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 first pre-recorded sonic event.

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