POEMS


Ten Cents for the First Three Minutes

It was just another day, in just another kitchen, in just another restaurant
and another order wheel was full during another lunch rush

The payphone on the wall next to the walk-in cooler was ringing
and one after another
those damn waitresses kept asking for items not on the menu

And the pay phone just kept ringing

I shoved plates of hot food and cold sandwiches
onto the pick-up shelf but stopped just long enough,
to take a much needed pull off my wine cooler disguised as organic ice tea

and more orders came in
and again the wheel was full
and the pay phone began ringing

I cursed the grill
I cursed the kitchen
I cursed the customers
but under my breath…just like a coward will do
and that damn pay phone continued ringing like a crying baby in wet diapers
White apron clad with my long hair pulled back in a pony tail,
I flipped three veggie burgers at once
I was sloppy from the cheap wine
and burned my knuckles
and the kitchen became hotter

A bead of sweat fell from my brow
It sizzled on the grill next to a whole wheat bun
and finally the pay phone stopped ringing
and the wheel was empty for the first time during the two hour lunch rush

Tommy the dishwasher and I went out back to share a smoke
he gave me a nip from his pint of Black Velvet too
When we returned
the pay phone began its noise again

I walked across the kitchen and picked up the greasy receiver
It was my old boss Bobbo on the line
He had a job offer
I said: “Really?”
and looked up at the cobwebs on the overworked ceiling fan long overdue for a cleaning and thought: “Salvation is possible in hell after all,” and asked Bob: “When can I start?”