Even in Quebec Province I couldn't escape
the Starbucks mermaid, her emerald crown
on sign after sign to Montreal's botanical gardens,
where I waited and sweat in July heat
to swipe my Visa and access the Chinese garden,
the aquatic garden, the insectarium,
where I overheard a teen declare,
A green tea latte is boss,
but a cherry slushy from the 7/11 even better.
Later, when I wandered Quebec's cobblestone streets,
I saw the Starbucks S, sharp as dollar signs,
carved into stone buildings, near golden arches,
where tourists gobbled French fries, then roamed
the Citadel and paused for iPhone photos
near the St. Lawrence, white coffee cups in hand.
Crossing the border, I saw mermaids again,
hidden among Vermont's pointed Adirondacks,
their lips upturned in a smirk, though certain
I'd stop for something sweet,
something to spike the blood sugar,
something to burn my tongue, something familiar.
BRIAN FANELLI has been published by The LA Times, World Literature Today, Blue Collar Review, Oklahoma Review, Portland Review, and other publications. He is the author of the chapbook Front Man and the full-length collection All That Remains. Currently, he lives in Pennsylvania and teaches full-time at Lackawanna College, while completing his Ph.D. at SUNY Binghamton.