Christopher Coffey_DUHRITZ_for Mr. Jones


 “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows

I heard it in the grocery store,
piped in so clear, there
in the canned food aisle; my hand
hovered in mind-reach
for eight ounces of tinned peaches
I planned to cook into a pie.
So taken was I my peach-search
was abandoned and I ran,
frantic and alive, to find

an employee crouched, shelving
toilet paper two rows away.
“No problem,” he said, even if
I had disrupted his task,
in truth, probably happy to take
an unplanned break, and because
he could not hear so clearly
with a mother and bawling newborn
nearby, we went back

to the stacked cans and stood
close to the speaker, tilting ears
toward the tinny sound
piping in through industrial
speakers. “That’s ‘Mr. Jones’
by Counting Crows,” he said,
and my first thought was,
“Who is this ‘Mr. Jones’?”
but I did not betray

the depth of my curiosity
and instead thanked him
for his help, relieving him
from customer service
to return freely and forthwith
to the squeezably-soft
Charmin previously assigned,
“Mr. Jones” la la la la-ing
in the air above every aisle now

as I jogged briskly
to the Customer Service desk
at the other end of the store,
where there was no wait
and a manager labeled Jeff
on a tilted white name tag
asked with a smile
just beneath his neat
mustache, “How can I help you?”
as I practically begged, “Can
you shut that horseshit off?”


Author Bio: Larry O. Dean was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan, where he won three Hopwood Awards in Creative Writing, an honor shared with fellow poets Robert Hayden, Jane Kenyon, and Frank O’Hara, among others; and Murray State University’s low-residency MFA program. He is author of the full-length collection, Brief Nudity (2013), as well as numerous chapbooks, including I Am Spam (2004); abbrev (2011); About the Author (2011); and Basic Cable Couplets (2012). His poetry has also been internationally translated and anthologized. In addition, he is a singer-songwriter, performing solo as well as with his current band, The Injured Parties; he has released many critically-acclaimed CD’s, including Fables in Slang (2001) with Post Office, Gentrification Is Theft (2002) with The Me Decade, and Fun with a Purpose (2009). Dean was a 2004 recipient of the Hands on Stanzas Gwendolyn Brooks Award, presented by the Poetry Center of Chicago. Contact him at larryodean.com

Artwork: Christopher Coffey