Edward A. Dougherty

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The Discontent of Everyday Objects

Under the great sodium streetlamps
and in the yellow pollen of their light,
surrounded by cars
all facing each other like line dancers,

I begin to understandArtwork by Gene McCormick
the discontent of everyday objects,
why socks are so devout
in their sadness, how the latch
in the car door grits its teeth and curses
every time it opens its mouth.

I stride into the vaulted mall
where fountains try to hoard
their coins, hiding them
like the children they never had,
but losing them,
they drown their sorrows in public.

The huge, never-blinking walls of glass
keep their complaints
to themselves. Behind them,
in clothing stores, on racks
of shirts all gathered in circles
and on the long dresses waiting in line
one behind the other—
all those zippers and snaps
argue about God
to justify their own existence.

And at the cooking store,
plastic food containers
stand around dreaming
of being singers but instead
are stuck in this dead-end job.

At the notions and fabric shop,
the racks of homeless buttons
are too pitiful to even look at—
I don’t even go near
the Dollar Store. I turn away,

walk on to the Bath and Body Boutique
where the prostitute lotions
long to settle down someday
and the scented soaps
are piled like stones,

or skulls, evidence
of a massacre only read about
in a country so far away
it might be a fantasy.


Edward A. Dougherty:  After finishing my MFA in Bowling Green, Ohio, my spouse and I volunteered at a peace center in Hiroshima for two and a half years. We now live and work in Corning, New York, and are active in our Quaker Meeting. I am the author of Pilgrimage to a Gingko Tree (2008 WordTech Communications) and Part Darkness, Part Breath (2008 Plain View Press) as well as five chapbooks of poetry, the most recent of which are The Luminous House (2007 Finishing Line Press) and Backyard Passages (2012, FootHills Publishing). Exercises for Poets: Double Bloom, co-authored with Scott Minar, is available from Prentice-Hall. In 2007, I was given the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.