Two Days Before Payday

(After “Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop)


It is quiet
--and some people would call it a bodega
or a corner store, but those are too quaint
It’s a 7/11 on Central Avenue
and the only thing it is known for
is that one Christmas, when the teller was shot

We used to buy millk there
when we ran out and payday
wasn’t for another two days
My father would count out his change
and use some for gas and some for milk
(hardly the life you imagined for a lawyer)

He used to work in one, my father
He worked the graveyard shift in a 7/11 but I forget where
and how old he was
He could have been anywhere
from ten to twenty-eight
Late at night, not allowed to sit down

People have tried to find a
subtle beauty in the fluorescence of the 7/11
But I think that’s futile

After all, a clerk was shot here
This is a bad chain store
in an even worse neighborhood
There is no humble beauty
in buying your milk and your gas
with the same sweaty coins

In fact, if you drove past
you would wonder who actually used this 7/11, in a major city
especially late at night
It’s people who need a last cigarette
or a beer before bed
People who, like me,
Have no other choice



Bella Pori's fiction has been published in Surgam Literary Magazine, and political commentary can be found on Mediaite and ComicsVerse. She is a government employee who writes poetry on her lunch breaks. Her political writing can be found at