sears_noho
SEARS LIFE (Excerpt)
by Wanda Coleman 

it makes me nervous to go into a store
because i never know if i’m going to
come out. have you noticed how much
they look like prisons these days? no display
windows anymore. all that cold soulless
lighting-as atmospheric as county jail-
and all that ground-breaking status-quo
shattering rock ‘n roll reduced to neuron
pablum and piped in over the escalators.
breaks my rebel heart. and i especially 
hate the aroma of fresh-nuked popcorn
rushing my nose, throwing my stomach off
balance. eyes follow me everywhere i go like
i’m a neon sign that shouts shoplifter.
and so many snide counter rats want to
service me, it almost makes me feel rich 
and royal. that’s why i rarely bother to
browse. i go straight to the department of
the object of conjecture, make my decision
quick, throw down the cash and split…

Photo: Sears, North Hollywood, California (patricksmercy, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in 1946, Wanda Coleman grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. She was the author of Bathwater Wine (Black Sparrow Press, 1998), winner of the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. A former medical secretary, magazine editor, journalist, and scriptwriter, Coleman received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation for her poetry. Her other books of poetry include Mercurochrome: New Poems (2001), Native in a Strange Land: Trials & Tremors (1996), Hand Dance (1993), African Sleeping Sickness (1990),  A War of Eyes & Other Stories (1988); Heavy Daughter Blues: Poems & Stories 1968-1986 (1988), and Imagoes (1983). Her work also includes Mambo Hips & Make Believe: A Novel (Black Sparrow Press, 1999) and Jazz and Twelve O’Clock Tales: New Stories (2008). Coleman, who was  known as the “unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles,” passed away on November 22, 2013. (Read more at latimes.com.)

Photo: Wanda Coleman, circa 1970s