Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: See (07/22/10)
TITLE: Third and Main
By Beth LaBuff
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The sky was threatening rain.
The intersection, dimmed by clouds
At downtown — Third and Main.
We passed a granite monument,
Inscribed to mark the plot,
“This town burned down in ’33
When lightning struck this spot.”
Concealed by the monument,
A peddler lay in wait.
He sized us up as gullible
And hoped we’d take his bait.
His cheekbone gripped a monocle
That amplified his eye,
His spine was stooped and ‘round his neck
He wore a black bowtie.
His monocle examined us.
My neck raised prickled hairs.
His trenchcoat lined with eyeglasses
He rasped to hawk his wares.
His odd array of sunglass frames
In darkish gray-toned hues,
And crescent-shaped moonglasses for
“Night-gazing lunar views.”
“For sportsmen hunting rhino we
Have camo-horn-rimmed frames.
And opera glasses that viewed ‘Faust’,”
Another of his claims.
He flashed night vision goggles
“On murky nights, you’ll see.”
His terms were “cash or barter and
Your credit’s good with me.”
My friend and I were spellbound,
He’s a shyster! screamed my mind,
A counterfeit, his glasses—fake.
I’m sure he thinks we’re blind.
His bowtie bobbed. He babbled on,
A smugness on his face.
With pomp and ceremony
He drew out an ancient case —
With ornamental sequins
And brocade upon the sides,
It’s clasp, no longer functional,
Was make-shift ribbon-tied.
I held my breath expectantly
To see what was enshrined,
He slowly eased the sequined lid,
The inner case — silk-lined.
Inside, exotic glasses,
A scarab bridged the nose,
And it appeared that hieroglyphs
Were stenciled on the bows.
“Though optics and illusions,”
The peddler-man had said,
“A future view, ten seconds worth—
To see what lies ahead.”
My friend picked up the glasses
And set them on her nose.
She gazed around at Third and Main
And then her features froze.
She ripped the glasses from her face
And hurled them at the man.
She grabbed my arm and pulled at me,
So then, of course, we ran!
Again, the hair prickled my neck,
Stopped dead amidst our dash
When almost simultaneously
We heard a lightning crash.
We turned to see what happened—
A fire-bolt from the sky.
A monocle— all that remained—
That and a black bowtie.
It’s said that “Lightning won’t strike twice!”
I don’t believe that claim.
We saw it strike the second time
That day at Third and Main.
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