Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paul David Atkins' Stick Up

Stick Up, published by Blood Pudding Press in 2014, is a story told in poems about a convenience store being robbed by a woman over 50. Paul David Atkins describes the characters involved and creates tension in the scenes throughout. How it ends will have to be a surprise. Below I’m happy to share a few plot-tantalizing poems:

He Gripped the Alarm

after he heard her from the freezer yell,
This is a stick up!
Around his neck
hung a silent alarm button.
He pressed it once or twice

or forty times

in the seven seconds it took
to crack the door and peek.

He saw a woman with a gun aimed
at the other clerk, demanding

a spool of Treasure Chest lotto tickets.

The other clerk glanced his way
and mouthed
Stay there!

He eased the door,
raised his hands,
shouldered the plastic curtains.

In this scene, I’d definitely be pressing that panic button forty times, wouldn’t you? Yet the main character in the poem makes an attempt to ease forward into the scene, would you be brave enough to do that?

She Thought

She thought, Now, what?
Shit! She held
two hostages, clerks the age
of her kids.

The boy squinted at the gun.
She thought he could tell
it’s a Crossman.

The robber wanted to
get him
out of the store,

figured he’d take off
if she ordered him to run
to the truck
and grab her bottle of Jack
in the passenger seat.

He bolted.

She turned to the girl.
You called police,
I know.
Thank God
the boy is gone.
It’s less
complicated now.

The glass door flew open.
The tin bell shot off.
The clerk and the robber wheeled,

But it was the boy, red-faced, returning
and waving the whiskey bottle
in his clenched fist
like a gold bell.

A twist in the robber’s plan and a twist for the readers: Who would go back inside the scene after being sent out of it? Here our poet creates heightened tension and keeps our eyes locked on the story.

She Discerned

She discerned a siren approach.
She tensed.
Her pistol ammo rattled
like a pack of tic tacs.
No one spoke

until a fire engine lumbered,
red lights rocking past the store toward
some distant farmhouse burning,
calf-filled barn
collapsing on itself.

April Fools,

the girl clerk forced
herself to blurt.
The robber laughed.

Amid the broken
promises of lotto
strewn across the tile,

beneath the scrolling
Powerball jackpot lights,

beside the humming,
ignorant ice cream freezer,
she laughed. They

all laughed.

Here the poet breaks the tension for all of us. We are left wondering whether any cops will ever show but in the meantime we can all laugh with the clever clerk. What happens next? You’ll have to nab a copy for yourself and find out.

If you enjoyed this review please purchase a copy of Paul David Atkins’ Stick Up from Blood Pudding Press for $7.00 at:

Thanks always for reading and please drop in again soon…