Like New

By Linda Gregerson b. 1950 Linda Gregerson
The ones too broke or wise to get parts
from a dealer come here where the mud is red   
and eternal. Eight front ends

are stacked on girders he salvaged too.
Ask for Bruce, he said on the phone, and doesn’t   
crack a smile when you show up.
Twenty-four fifty if we find one, sister.

Bruce, it says on his coveralls, and Bruce
on the ones his helper wears. The routine’s so good   
they’re keeping it. The taillight you can have.

Except for the traffic, the wrong parts of Baltimore   
aren’t so bad: each house pulling
its straightest face, the curbs and stoops
lined up like a man inverting his pockets

to show he’s got nothing to hide. Construction   
sites gone aimless and the detours   
feeling more like home. You know

where to find a cheap lunch. Up front,   
a woman hears the list through twice   
before, as to a sweet and original   
prompting, she picks fried trout.

Likewise the oyster shucker, pretending   
you’ve asked for a straw with your beer.   
He searches the counter above which reigns

a picture of Washington Stokes, retired,
who cleaned fish to order for fifty-nine years.   
A girl on a schedule deserves
what she gets, and sometimes gets it kindly, earned

or no. Untouched by heat of sun or city   
police, the fair-haired accommodate best   
by having everything to learn.

But here comes your beer without a straw,
as though good nature were common as thirst.   
Here’s Washington Stokes, who would understand   
the strategy that lets the fool go free.

Linda Gregerson, “Like New” from Fire in the Conservatory (Port Townsend, Washington: Dragon Gate, 1982). Copyright © 1982 by Linda Gregerson. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Fire in the Conservatory (Dragon Gate, 1982)

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Poet Linda Gregerson b. 1950

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Class, Money & Economics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Linda  Gregerson


Linda Gregerson is the author of several collections of poetry and literary criticism. A Renaissance scholar, a classically trained actor, and a devotee of the sciences, Gregerson produces lyrical poems informed by her expansive reading that are inquisitive, unflinching, and tender. Tracing the connections she finds between science and poetry, Gregerson says, “I think there are rhythms of thought, fragile propositions about the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Class, Money & Economics

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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