The Busier the Kitchen the Filthier the Dishes

Your lunch spot becomes a haven on the ground
level of a tower between towers on rainy workdays.

Your eyes strained at the sight of a waterfall
of text and maybe you missed
an important error in copy
marketed to clients. Here, though,

the dishwasher sprays a thousand plates,
aiming spouts at cheese stains hardened
from sitting by the garbage in
the place where discarded trays should be.

Water pressure removes ceramic sin
eventually, an industrial machine
humming in silver efficiency,
skin rinsed beside it.

Glasses that pass the spot test emerge,
steam rising, but meat lodged between
prongs is wrestled out with wet finger.

Your fork drips from the steak
just in a salesman’s mouth.

 

(originally published in Stickman Review, Spring 2018)

Olive Garden

On the way home from my first Passover
with your family we stop at an Olive Garden

in flyover country, where the waitress tells us
Happy Easter and, when you tell her we forgot

but still want angel hair, she jokes her last
table mistook pesto for alfredo. Sometimes

people confuse one god for another but never
their own, and food is ours– Jesus rising

with the dough of endless breadsticks
descending like ten plates of plagues, first-born

bastards in baskets we need no hunt to find
lest our mouths become black holes absorbing

absurd sanctities of tradition. Separately,
the Garden was where our families would gather

on intermittent nights to write our own Haggadahs
or speak sins of rock stars or mysteries

of faith. Afikomans for truth, perhaps, but instead
of matzo an endless bowl of a salad of words

in which we always beg for more
forgiveness without really wanting that.

And the waitress, before engaging the simplest rotor,
asks us to say when to end airstrikes of parmesan

and it does not matter when we do.

 

(originally published in After the Pause, Summer 2018)