Issue 31: Steve Noyes



Among the shapes come down

from the modern medieval period

is the stylized and elongated hypotenuse

of the Roofline Corporation’s logo,

its ascension at every Springfield crossroad.


Statistics is the description of abscissae.

The Moms and Pops up and closed shop

rather than confront the Roofline juggernaut,

retired to air-con and powdered ice-tea,

their youngsters starting to climb Mount Credit.


At first, a furious burgeoning, as trucks brought

all that was desired, eighteen- after eighteen-wheeler;

under the friendly Roofline Earth’s coded fungibles

came from factories on jungle fringes, from docks blue

with the effusions of two-stroke motors.


Aisles of the riveted, the crimped and heat-sealed,

and Springfielders kachinged their barbecues

and fish-tank-sized TVs, until this zenith’s

tip towards investor pessimism, layoffs,

until there were only a few jobs left,


poorly paid. Remaining Roofline staff

dealt with a narrower community,

until glass smashed under the abscissa,

and We the People carted off the cases of KD,

the cappuccino-makers—strong demand curve—


and Roofline came to echo in the rust-in-snow

of swing-sets and handsaws that came to clutter

Springfield’s garages and backyards;

in the apron with the boom and doom roofline,

folded for years in a drawer, after the math


moved on to newer markets, in the pioneering way.








The bell dings, he looks up

from the hissing flame, not

quite making out the customers.

He tweezes the thin metal straw

channeling his breath


from his lungs’ elastic stream

into the reddened vesicles

of a cardinal’s wing, which will

in time join the other glass birds

tinkling from the wire bonsai.


He pushes up his visor

automatically to croak

Howdy, y’all come in.

The molten cardinal

cools down some.


This is Main Street America!

Immediately one sees his store

has absorbed all the others

in this empty town of padlocked

doors, taped-up foreclosures.


Bins of dated books on macramé,

woodburning, burls, appliqué kits

from when folks knew how to craft.

In the back, he’s got the taffeta,

organdy and fake-silk gowns—


hand-me-downs for the grad girls,

county-wide and farther round.

He once knew the other shopkeepers

in town and hell, he helped them

all he could, then bought them out.


It ain’t his fault he is a permanent

curio at the county auctions

with his string tie hanging

from his Adam’s apple.

The customers browse and leave.


At the flame’s hiss, the glass

cardinal distends in pipettes

of crimson drool. The day passes

with Mister Main Street America,

with this most difficult, crested bird.

Steve Noyes has published nine books of fiction and poetry, with a chapbook of a long poem, The Conveyor, just out this year from Alfred Gustav Press. Noyes holds a doctorate in the Contemporary Novel from the University of Kent. Recent poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, Queen's Quarterly, Acumen, Stand, The Ekphrastic Review, Critical Muslim, and The Literary Review of Canada. Noyes is from Winnipeg and lives in Sheffield. 

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