Diner Poem: ‘Tonight’s Special’

coffee and cigarettes

Tonight’s Special

Angel wears a poodle skirt, a wide
felt swing of powder blue with
an unforgotten cloud. Her dark eyes
tempt and sizzle, like greasy hamburgers,
while she bends from her hips
on red baskets and rubbery
pickles to work their charm.
She buries her dreams in apron
pockets, rips out
carbon copies until she surrenders
to his Philly Steak arms. He hangs
them, for her, over a hot grill
     every night
all night long, he cranks out long
strands of spiral fries and delivers
his prowess on a stainless steel
counter. She runs for refills and
the Dixie Cups take her
back to “The Chapel”
for the third time
until she hums her way
out, at closing time, away from the long-
handled mop, The Grateful
Dead, and the greasy tear
down her cheek.


We crave salvation, don’t we? That need often burns in us as we go through the motions at our jobs. We cry out for a deeper poetry at work.

Last week, author and editor Maureen Doallas (Writing Without Paper) issued a challenge. She was prompted by the The Poetry Foundation’s blog, which featured Food & Wine’s recent interview with filmmaker, director and artist David Lynch.

Lynch, it turns out, loves diners.

“A poet could write volumes about diners, because they’re so beautiful. They’re brightly lit, with chrome and booths and Naugahyde and great waitresses. Now, it might not be so great in the health department, but I think diner food is really worth experiencing periodically.”

So Maureen fired up the grill and invited the peeps at Tweetspeak Poetry (including Lyla Lindquist, Seth Haines, Glynn Young and myself) to throw out some diner poems.

Feel free to stop by and have a look. Maybe leave a diner poem of your own?

Red Heat


Red Heat

on this day
in Winnipeg
even polar bears
watch us from Broadway,
and we sit and love
on these historic steps
leading up to our Hotel Fort Garry,
and hold, for a time,
icy bottles of cream soda and
the condensation and rings
drive us mad, with love,
and people hit their brakes
and honk at us,
smiling at your wedding dress,
here in the northern sunlight,
but then we had to leave it
in your parents’ basement, for a

time to cross

a country and then a sea
of wild rye and nodding needles
and the cold concrete
at the border station, with its
erect black uniforms, silver
sunglasses and
latex fingers and,
the prairie wind howls,
at the bare skin of our heart,
raised today like a flag
between two countries.

Oh, Canada burns like a cardinal against our snow.

and so we roar and stomp
and leave one paw-print
of red
in our snow
and then go to bed
and wait for the visible
light to change
to faith, some smoldering,
infrared glow.


TS Poetry’s February theme of Red called for a poem.