bandstand hospitality
by Maureen Kingston

in an unfamiliar park
three towns over
the jobless man
crunches peanut brittle
a cheap percussion
the sweet backwash
his spit-valved solace
feeding & corroding
his once ivory teeth
now become robotic
gnashing keys
crushing his sonata
to chipped notes &
lingering sharps

the merchants smile
say you’re not from here
& sugarcoat their nos
& maybe next times
lancing his gumption
to the quick
but he can’t afford
not to eat
the brickle samples
they set out
a late-summer concession
intended to mollify
to mask
the rancid aftertaste
of small-town smirks

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