Fred Miller

Fred Miller is a California writer. Over a hundred of his stories and poems have appeared in publications around the world over the past ten years. Many may be found on his blog:



A shimmering light flanks a storm 
of guests aflush in the widened doorway.
Tired shoes flagged by time and pale garb
draped over supple girths await
the coming advance toward treasures
and passing fancies of hidden deceit. 

“Welcome to Del-Mart, welcome,” she sings,
her dauntless gaze fixed on the approaching horde,
her ears attuned to queries of aisles and rows
where specials are to be had.

The clamor of soft-soled sneakers,
the hushed sound of faded fabrics,
and scents of defeated humanity shuffle 
by in waves seeking endless satisfactions.

“Welcome to Del-Mart. We’re glad you’re here,”
she says. “Stockings and socks? Aisle twelve.
Electronics? Aisle thirty-seven toward the back.
Welcome. “

Minute-by-minute, guileless crowds with visions
blurred by shrewd schemes of enhanced profits
pass by with runny-nosed kids keening for toys
touted by the Saturday morning media.

“Welcome, welcome,” she chats in rote verse,
her hearty smile augmented by light pats of blush.

Soon, her feet cry out from the heft of the job
and prickles of pain dance across the small of her
back. Twenty minutes hence, a brief respite awaits: 
a seat, a quiet reserve, and a nibble of nosh, perhaps.

“We’re glad you are here. Welcome to Del-Mart.”
A child’s grin and a wave provide a pleasing reply.

Nine days and counting, she remembers well, a check from Sam 
enroute. Not enough, but some help, her life partner gone, the rent now
due. From an untimely departure, a vessel of provision has vanished, 
his spirit now wed to an ethereal summons. The breath of his presence 
now a lingering remembrance, she shelters alone in quiet sorrow.
Her timely liturgy at the portals continues, “Welcome to Del-Mart. 
Pre-Christmas sales start today. Welcome.”

Relief arrives in a quiet, white room with hints 
of disinfectant. Angry notices stare down from 
the wall: Know Your Rights, Wear Your Del-Mart Smile, 
Wash Your Hands Before Returning to Your Station. 

A local senior center will soon host a job fair:
manicurists, hair stylists, janitorial jobs, and more.
Age? Experience? No matter. Her dreams remain 
young. Years left to go, she reminds herself, years.

Her tongue laden with simple greetings, she returns.
“Welcome to Del-Mart. Pre-Christmas sales are in 
progress. We’re glad you are here. Welcome.” A tot 
spouts out an antiphonal response. She smiles.

Processions, processions, pitiful processions 
in waves. And to where? Advent lures 
unsuspecting eyes to mock illuminations
and piped-in music, hard-held thieves of time and money.

“Welcome, Welcome. We’re glad you’re here. Welcome.”

The clock crawls forward. One hour thirty-five minutes to go. And five minutes 
to the transit. On the bus, her visions expand. Perhaps a position as a hostess 
in a tony restaurant. Maybe an executive assistant in a white-collar setting. 
She’s trainable and she’s confident. And she is ready.

‘Welcome, welcome’, echoes about in her head. Her face reflects character
and promise, her dreams the sole purchase in her life. The contours of her eyes
close to an unstoried future, her collective consciousness a tapestry of hope
for tomorrow. Tomorrow will tell. Tomorrow.

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