Jes Simmons, a second-generation poet and jazz drummer, works at Longwood University and lives in Farmville, Va.

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Late Stop for Gas at Valero

by Jes Simmons 06-01-2020
A poem. 

Illustration by Tim Goffe

The later it gets, the more nothing.
—Woman at the register

Yeah, we’re open ’til midnight,
but few customers come after 9:00.
I like when it’s slow and quiet—
just me and the store lights.
I don’t like the sirens
racing along Main Street.
I always worry it’s my kid hurt
or my best girlfriend with another
black eye or busted rib.
When I’m here by myself, I draw
dress patterns for my daughter.