waitress poems

Saturday, May 21, 2005


He works two jobs washing dishes,
scraping away the excess of
other people’s appetites. Like most of us,
he finds his hours are
not what he expected. If he were a younger man...
if his English were better...well, then, perhaps--
But like the ghostly revelers he knows only
from what they leave behind,
he does his best to sweeten what remains.
If you ask him how he traverses
the length and tedium of his days,
he points to a tape player
perched precariously above his head.
One touch of his finger and
the dish room spins with tropicalia,
Bahia percussion, strains of Samba.
For each day of the week, a new voice
transforms the clatter of spoons,
the rhythm of hands
into another form of fusion,
as a man moves with private effulgence
through a life of broken plates,
and dreams of home--
synchretist of silver, glass and drum,
of masked disappointment,
and the fierce, exultant song
minimum wage can never buy.


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