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Andrew Shields

Beethoven Goes To the Corner Store

Beethoven Goes To the Corner Store

The dishwasher's loaded and ready to run,
but all the detergent is gone.
He picks up ten dollars and heads out the door,
humming a tune to himself.

Its possible harmonies take up the time
to walk to the store on the corner,
but then he forgets them: the radio's on,
with songs that are hard to ignore.

But he doesn't mind; there's always another
melody to be discovered.
He buys the detergent and pockets his change;
now he can finish the kitchen.

On his way home his melody's gone
so he hums what he heard in the store.
Then he hears the quick steps of somebody running
and turns just in time for two boys

to grab both his arms so he almost falls down
and drops the small box of detergent.
"Give us your money", the smaller boy mutters,
"or we're gonna kick your dumb ass."

"Here's all that I got, just a couple of bucks,
my change from the box over there."
The boys pat him down to make sure there's no more,
then punch him for luck before splitting.

He sees that he's standing in front of his house;
it hurts quite a bit where they hit him.
The box isn't broken, but bending enough
to grab it hurts even more.

As he heads up the steps, it crosses his mind
he should probably call the police.
Tonight it was only a couple of bucks,
but that was a matter of chance.

He puts the detergent in the machine
and pushes a button or two.
Hearing the beeps as a fragment of song,
forgetting police and the pain,

he pieces together a melody from
the radio song from the store,
the stumbling rhythm of two running boys,
the dishwasher's tones, and the drone

of the water that's washing away what is left
at the end of another day.
The song will forget its beginnings before
the aches and the bruises are gone.

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Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong was published by Eyewear in June 2015. His band Human Shields released the album "Somebody's Hometown" in 2015 and the EP "Défense de jouer" in 2016.

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