Red by Melissa Chappell

We used to go there on dusty summer afternoons 

for peanuts and a Coke:

Mr. Reese’s store,

a welcoming whitewashed barefoot box.

But it sat for many years, 

empty, its cracks growing longer,


Still, it was a comfort.

The old white store  backhanded the sun’s cruel rays,

yet it still looked like Mr. Reese’s store.

Until one day,

it turned red.

Some vagabond painters 

had come along and convinced

the owner to paint it red.

It’s not that bad,

it’s just a little heavy handed

for our road. 

A little too intense

for the ordinariness of

red brick and mortar 


a little too much pepcid popping for the

nodding gray frame homes

with sashed eyes.

It was like the dinner guest

who’s making you a mite too


over the rosemary chicken.

I know all about it.

I used to get peanuts

and Coke there all the time

on dusty tin can days.

I’m a bit intense,too.

Sometimes people don’t

answer their phones, 

and when they do, they soon

wish they hadn’t. 

Few people can really take me.

The ones who can  are like finding a red-

berried dogwood amid the snowy

forest environs.

So come on, old friend, I’ll sit 

with you on your steps while the 

neighbors look on from the safety

of their brick and mortar and 

little blinking houses.

Here in our Southern soiree,

we can drink our fate together.

I will drink mine to the dregs,

paint myself red and let a 

cosmic laugh 

pour through the grinning

cracks, wide now,

open to the universe,

streaming, screaming,

every blush of crimson,

because, though ignored,

though alone,

we are unashamed.

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