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)
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)
I’m with Lex at Lockview
ordering tomato soup because
I just got out of a relationship.
I tell him I’m fine, though he never asked.
The bowl arrives alongside my Kentucky Bourbon
Barrel Ale. I slurp red and talk loudly
for the cute girl at the table behind me
wearing all black– we made eye contact
waiting for tables between entrance and exit–
she doesn’t hear me, probably,
but my friend watches me cremate crackers
over the bowl to spoon the goo inside.
He says slow down but I say life moves
fast– hell, I ingested magic mushrooms
after leaving my ex’s place then Lex
asks our waitress for his grilled cheese
without mushrooms and the waitress asks for menus
but I hand her my bowl and say take it please
take it then tell her I’m fine and it was wonderful
being in my house alone after this happened standing
on the kitchen table beside the silver chandelier
lined with black mold and dirt and how
I waited for anyone to come home
and no one did so I kept standing.
(originally published in OVS Magazine, 2017)