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?

Writing is Home


I read Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity and Writing by L.L. Barkat while spending a week in a church that’s been converted into a home.

Writing is like that. Its presence towered over most of my life with the stillness of a holy temple. Grandiose. Imposing. Until I finally flushed a toilet, heard truth echo through a cavernous sanctuary — with the noise of everyday water.

Writing, it turns out, is a place to inhabit.

Modern culture has discombobulated our sense of place. The hub of the kitchen table no longer holds together the farm and work shed like it once did. Now our most important occupations are prone to the sprawl of square miles, states, even countries. We do our best to knit together these habitations of work, family and faith, using long threads of concrete interstates and digital texts.

Continue reading