I sit in a little pocket within the diner, a booth with a window overlooking the highway. I'm waiting for my ice cream shake to come to room temp just enough to slurp through a straw. I notice a young man with a green cardigan chasing a young lady in a red sweatsuit on the highway. It feels as if I'm watching an episode of Tom and Jerry. I giggle. The young lady removes her sweater and tosses it towards incoming cars. Cars begin to screech through the thick glass.
My shake is now ***** water, which I chug in a gulp. I then look out the window to notice that traffic is back to normal. I wonder if she abandoned the sweater or the young man.
You sip your coffee in a nearby diner. The place is empty. It is too cold outside for wandering, even to familiar places.
Part of you is still numb, Historic wounds still holding sway. You sip your coffee in a strange kind of meditation, waiting for the feelings to break like river ice.
I am a slow processor of emotions.
I was first exposed to winter rivers clogged with massive blocks of ice piled one on the other until the surface resemble building blocks thrown in a two-year-old’s temper tantrum, when I moved here to New England. Ten years later I love seeing it.
I really am at my favorite diner. It really is empty. Even the cook is downstairs doing some kitchen prep. I use my time in the diner to write, which involved working on breaking my emotions loose.
From those three things, this poem.
But lest you think it was that easy and clear, this began as a long, long rambling sort of poem. It is a bad writing habit of mine to write around the main thing. I once had a writing teacher, Richard Dillard, who said my life would be spent finding the poem in my poem. He was right. More than he knew.
my roman nose did not fit the cupboard womb as I stared at the silhouette of a ketchup stain on a breakfast table raw burger meat, ripe debutantes all bathed in glycerin and self-destruction waiting for teeth or the occasional knife (chaining themselves to trees whose seeds mostly wander)
I came here alone (use me and squeeze me) the insides of the shrinking constitution, the demure dissident such a thrill to smear my guts all over the newspapers to see the visions of the ink so honeysuckle intertwined
I pressed against the greasy diner table arms crossed to hide my face behind a promise to be waiting for you open mouthed and mute chiaroscuro, blind
Suburban’s the only place open this late so we slide into the red slicker seats, feet locked into orbit, knees chaste: against the checkered table our hands grasp empty space, separate by twos. Graveyard workers chug past, silent ships on a still sea. Grey-faced one asks to take our order specials falling off her tongue by rote, routine, and on instinct I ask for the two-for one cheeseburgers and a side of curly fries: “extra crisp” you used to chime in; smile in your eyes now you say none for me thanks.