Please help the Black Earth Institute continue to make art and grow community so needed for our time. Donate now »

a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 3. I Am (not) the Community, Society, Culture

Peter O’Malley

Peter O’Malley
Dollar Tree
In this town that you could call a borderland:
the one per cent just over the line in Franklin Lakes —
the ones who’d never see this store —
and here, down by the river
in the flood plain (in the houses they can’t sell)
the ones who come to buy the stuff they need
because it’s cheap,.
Someone who was not from Franklin Lakes
(at least, that’s what I’d bet)
was paying for her shopping cart of stuff.
She asked the cashier if the store was hiring.
She answered that they were;
but then the guy who looked to be her boss
said no; they weren’t, but maybe would be
after the holiday.
The woman said “OK”, and left.
For Christmas and St. Stephen’s Day,
well known to Good King Wenceslas,
blesser of the poor,
she’d had, maybe, a hope
of something in the air: a Christmas hope?
I am an intruder in this place;
this world no longer mine.
I make my purchase and move on
to where I do not fear a flood
or a foreclosure;
though in some hidden place
my old fears are the same as hers.
Peter O’Malley lives in Oakland, New Jersey, with his wife, Carol Ciancia. He holds a BA and an MA (Drew University) in English literature, as well as a law degree from Rutgers University (Newark). He is an amateur naturalist whose other interests include travel, sailing, bicycling, music, performance, and visual arts (drawing and pastel). Recent publications have appeared in Inkwell, Wayfarer, About Place, and Earthshine. Mr. O’Malley’s journal appears at


©2024 Black Earth Institute. All rights reserved.  |  ISSN# 2327-784X  |  Site Admin