Rodney Torreson

I’m Just the Driver to this Second-Hand Store



The guy I drove here goes his own way.

Over here a set of glasses, one chipped

on the rim looks slightly rankled, the way I feel

in my impatience to get out of here. Old clocks

worn down to the hour they have stopped; I’d refuse

to have mine rewound: one time through is enough.

All my decades—with the musty breath of a museum—

come at me from around each corner. The few folks

here are so quiet that I hear the breathy gasp of Tupperware

as a lady, mid 40s, pops shut a lid. Silence

coagulates and is processed like cheese.


Under a bare light bulb that tries too hard

to look enthralled, an elderly man whirls a carousel,

a silver turnstile, to another year.

On short-sleeved shirts, collars, like old pennants,

are curled up; on another rack are slacks, surely one

with a bedeviled zipper, another ironed to a shine

to make a runway for the past. And here inside

a glassy showcase an “I Like Ike” button.

But it’s the darkness of the imagined pin

that stabs me: “Kennedy was killed.”


Across the aisles, a barren table blindfolded

with a table cloth, as if to keep it in the dark

about where it’s ended up. Separate are these chairs

that don’t have any ties to the table.

Every item is alone, and the past barely

breathes, causing sweat to journey down

my forehead. I must settle these shadows,

then do something slick, like sit

in the new coffee shop up the street.

I want to corner the guy I brought here,

drag out his promise to leave in a minute.

In a toaster, its shiny silver mirror shows

too much morning cheer, as if it wants me

to raise a toast to my aging face.

Rodney Torreson is the author of four books, his most recent being The Secrets of Fieldwork, a chapbook of poetry published by Finishing Line Press in 2010.  His two full-length books are A Breathable Light (New Issues Press, 2002) and The Ripening of Pinstripes: Called Shots on the New York Yankees (Story Line Press, 1998).  The poet laureate of Grand Rapids from 2007-2010, he founded Through the 3rd Eye, an online website which promotes the poetry of young people in the greater Grand Rapids area.



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