The grocer sits and smokes behind his counter
- pock-marked lino top with tobacco burns -
explains to any listening idler
how to get rich, run a country, rear children.
As he speaks he flicks
tiny tobacco flakes off his lips.
Customers seldom come in:
there is little to want on his hungry shelves.
He addresses the few with certainty.
His yellowed fingers weave the air.
His navy suit, thin as tissue paper,
dances on his shoulders.
He confounds his listeners
with big-money cant
conned from the business pages
which turn yellow
while the light dulls
to the cold of three decades
and the dark moves in
thick as the walls of Fort Knox
with all America's gold
locked up behind them.
Published, 2001, in ROPES (Review of Postgraduate Studies), Issue 9, NUI Galway. (ROPES does not have its own website).