Montague’s Convenience Store by George Longenecker

Montague’s Convenience Store

sells gasoline, diesel—most everything—
three lunch trucks are lined up by the river,
each morning they leave to sell coffee
doughnuts, soup and sandwiches
in factory parking lots and construction sites.
Outside the store sits a crate of free books,
on top waits Romeo and Juliet
in perfect condition.

They’d have been happier just working here,
an ordinary day—Juliet makes sandwiches
for the lunch run, Romeo makes coffee,
takes credit cards, Juliet hauls trash out
to the bins by the river. She calls out:
Ophelia stay away from the edge,
but no way is Ophelia going near the water—
she’s just watching her Honda gassing up,
Hamlet’s in the front seat tending the kids.

Juliet loads coffee, soup, sandwiches
and doughnuts. Now Gertrude’s at work,
doing an extra four hour shift
since she dumped Claudius.
From her truck Juliet blows a kiss,
See you tonight Romeo sweetie, don’t
kill yourself, Tybalt will be here soon.
Love you— see you tonight Juliet.

Juliet eases the lunch truck carefully
around barriers at a construction site,
honks twice, her horn like trumpets,
a steelworker’s first in line,
Here comes the lady. O so light a foot.
Juliet pours his coffee.

Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene VI

by George Longenecker, first published in Vermont Literary Review.

Editor’s Note: This poem brings several of Shakespeare’s plays into the present, and reimagines the characters as modern people. This reminds us that the people alive so many years ago are not all that much different from the people who are alive now.

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