This Way to the World's Greatest Merchants



There’s a shopping center in this town

And in that shopping center

(Clean and refurbished

With a design best described as Spanish/Dutch

Or beach chic

Some design scheme assembled by an architect

Hoping to capture the spirit of the town

Who eventually threw up his hands

And gave up)

Is a corner coffeeshop

Once a franchise

Now independently-owned

And on that coffeeshop’s shaded patio

Two friends

Both poets

Both writers

An unusual profession

In this town of school teachers and realtors

Sit and discuss their plans for the future.


One writer

So unsure

Or

Better yet to say

Sure of a grade of everything from stasis to calamity

The other

Sure of only toasts in towns seen and unseen

Of only haters that block the path

He gets out a book

Not to compose new prose or poetry

But to map out charts

Draw networks to climb

Projections of potential earnings

What an alluring web he weaves…


The moment broken

By barista offering free food as ruse to buy more

Samples of pastries set to expire soon

But for sale

With no discount

“You wouldn’t want us to throw this food away

Would you?”


Enter late teenager

Baseball cap flipped to the back

Kicked up skateboard

Offers another opportunity

To help someone in need

He asks for a light

Then offers to trade cigarettes

One of the writers agrees

The teenager tells him

He should give him some money

In the exchange

After all

The teenager’s cigarette

Comes from a more expensive pack

The writer concedes the point

Those are indeed

Quality cigarettes he has

The writer gives him a quarter

The teenager asks for another.


And who could forget

The businessman who parks his car in the spot

Right in front of where the two writers are sitting

When almost all the other spots are open?

The businessman is all smile and slick hair

Wristwatch and thin belt

But no tie or coat

Golf casual

To let potential customers know

Really

He’s just like them

He once was lost

But now has found

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

As well as personal and portable magnet massage devices

They’re really just like one another

Always there for you

And capable of performing miracles with powers unknown to science

Combine that

With some herbs from the old country

And you have medicine for whatever ails you

“You two

You seem like two smart guys

Two capable young men

I bet if you were to sell these devices

You could make a fortune

Believe me

When I came to this country

I had nothing

Been pulled into a scheme

What would I tell my wife and children?

I didn’t have an answer

So, I went to church

And at church I met a representative for MMM:

Magnet Massage Messengers

And now

I’ve dedicated my life to only the Good News and positive ions!

You never know how going to church can change your life

Here

Why don’t you try?”

He shoves the vibrating magnets in the writers’ faces

They wrinkle with displeasure

But before they can formally answer

The businessman spots a woman walking with a cane in the distance

“Ma’am!

Stop!

Let me heal you!”

He yells and gives chase

The two writers wonder if this isn’t their cue to leave.


Enter scene

The king of the coffeeshop

The suburban dad

Who cosplays as beggar

And troubadour

For he is often accompanied by his guitar

He strums along mornings

Afternoons

And evenings

But never plays in professional settings

He is a white man with a full tan and hearty laugh

Every few generations

A cult of kids will surround him

Teenagers and college-aged young adults

To talk of all the goings-on in and around this town

Before they inevitably

Move on

Sometimes the king of the coffeeshop offers gossip

Historical tidbits

Or full-blown conspiracy theories

Involving some of the usual suspects

UFOs and JFK

And then there was that strong anti-Islamic phase

But now

Everything is about the Chinese and the Japanese

About how they’re “taking over”

“I’m not racist”

He says,

“I’m married to one of them!”