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by Daniel O'Connell

            “Discover the Charm”

The quiet streets of Martinez

in morning before 8 a.m. –


the quaint café is out of business

but Starbucks is full

of attorneys and cops,

a baker’s dozen of each

officer of the law ordering

coffee drinks and pastries so sweet

they should be illegal.


I’m part of a system that oppresses,

I know. I know it better than ever

in the little town of Martinez

heading to court at daybreak

past Whisky Lane’s door

swung wide to the dim lit counter,

where the McDonald’s, too, is open,

catering to hobos and obese moms,


and the Sheriff at the gate

of the marble courthouse

lets lawyers

pass around the metal detector

with the flash of a Bar card

and matching suit and tie,

though we could be armed

to the gullet

with justice.


But we’re not. It’s just a

Case Management Conference

in a routine toxic tort class action.


I bill my time at $350 an hour and then

stroll down Main Street

past five family law offices,

two criminal defense firms,

and the new MMA gym,

poke around in an antique store

squeezed between two bail bonds 

which outnumber all business 3 to 1.


I buy some Gold Rush relics for a steal:

pick, shovel, pan,

a lump of fool’s gold.

Dan O’Connell is a four-time award winning poet. His poems have appeared over seventy times, including in Mississippi Review, Parthenon West Review, and most recently RavensPerch and Ghost Town Review. A former Philosophy and Rhetoric professor, Dan has his own law practice with a focus on protecting tenants and workers, and teaches and writes about Law. He is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Different Coasts, and Theory of Salvation. Find Dan O. at


February 2020

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