“Our Town”

Poem by Rob Lindquist

One fine day in ’82,
Old Swift, my friend, came in
His hat was down,
His duds were trim,
He wore a level grin.
Beneath his arm an envelope,
Behind him, trailed his smoke
He puffed upon his cigarette
Before a word was spoke.

“I’ve got some early photos
Of the valley, long ago.
Rufus made the copies
They’re places we both know…”
But, then, I interrupted;
I told him there was news
From a woman Swifty could not stand
Who’d shared with me her views.
She called me just that morning
About our history group.
With guileless pomp she stated
How she would run our troupe.
She told me of the changes
That, as president, she’d make;
How “Swift”, our town historian
Was a foul-mouth and a flake.
She planned to pass his title,
He was our greatest source,
To a kinder, older lady,
‘Cause she knew more, of course.

He pulled upon his cigarette,
His waving arms askew,
And paced around my bike shop floor
While his flaring temper grew.
Cusswords came I’d never heard
Words I never knew;
Then he asked me of her whereabouts;
What was I to do?

I said LaVerne was off to his house
To take the record books
Away from his wife, Laura,
She told me they were ‘cooked’.
With that ol’ Swifty disappeared;
The smoke behind him soared.
He jumped into his Chevrolet,
And off that Bel Air roared.

An hour passed, I went for lunch,
But, down the sidewalk came,
A wretched sight, in blackest drape,
A grand old type, a ‘dame.’
LaVerne was in a dither,
She leaned and lurched along;
“There you are, you rascal,
You really did me wrong!
That man, he held me pris’ner!
Behind his own front door!
I tell you, Rob he ravaged me,
I daren’t tell you more…
He said I was a “Nazi”,
He said I was a bitch,
He said it would be me, not him,
They’d throw into the ditch.”

I took her in and sat her down
With water at her side,
Quietly excused myself,
Then laughed until I died.

LaVerne at last went out the door,
Her mood, morose and black;
Hardly had she disappeared
Than Clarence Swift came back.
He was in the finest mettle.
He bantered on then said,
“I got that whole thing settled.
The problem’s solved, it’s dead.”
“I’m on my way to Chappie’s;
I’m gonna have a beer,
I’ve done all there was to do
My conscience now is clear.”

It was a scene from comedy,
“Our Town” or some such skit,
It started with a phone call
And never seemed to quit.
The repartee was wonderful
That morning years ago,
When Swifty told a president
Where she oughta’ go.

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