Tony’s been a cook here ever since
he was placed in the renewal center
over a decade ago.
Twice a GED failure, he can barely read,
but knows how to cook a steak, how to
work hard, show up on time.
His roommate, Daryl, is dying of cirrhosis.
They were cell mates in the pen,
I went to their apartment once,
and they slept on bunk beds like jail,
Daryl was top.
Now Tony drives after endless ticket
Saturdays to spend the night bedside
at Cleveland Clinic.
The late night highway air soothes
grease burned arms and hands covered
Sundays he drives all morning to
make it back for the early
During pre-shift I ask how Daryl
is doing in Cleveland though I
“Not good,” he says. “But at
least while I was up there I finally
got to see the ocean.”
THE LUNCH REGULAR SHITS HIS PANTS
Five minutes after you
take his order, he’ll
wave you down, say
he’s ready to order.
You tell him he has
already ordered and
then he will say,
“I want a turkey sandwich.”
The average guest age
in this restaurant is
This ancient man comes
in every single weekday,
and the routine never
Ginger ale, turkey sandwich,
cup of decaf, shits his pants.
You’d feel sorry for the
decrepit bastard, but
you don’t have time.
The crones on 206 need
cappuccino and the young
couple sitting patio,
drinking martinis needs
to know if the calamari
is gluten free.
So you let him sit
in his booth with
You run his black Amex,
call his aide, froth the milk,
and grab a mop.
A PIG’S DICK
I remember the world pre-internet
and then after.
How the elderly signed up for AOL
accounts and played
Sling‑O for hours in their therapeutic
desk-chairs, and learned
how to IM their grandchildren while
their grandchildren were
trying to score cyber-sex in chatrooms,
asking for age/sex/location.
How they didn’t know how to delete
their browser history,
visited websites like boobs.com and
thought you didn’t know.
Worse how it gave old perverts,
those stag party vets
who used to set up the projector
Like this guy, Bobby, I worked with
68 and obsessed
wanted my email so he could send me
He told me once that a pig’s dick is
curly-cue like its tail
and he never knew that until he watched
a pig fuck a woman online.
THANKSGIVING AT GOLDEN CORRAL
Even though I know better, I am here because
my Grandfather can’t roast a turkey and wants
to treat the family to a Thanksgiving dinner.
What better can it get than all-you-can-eat for
twelve dollars and ninety-nine cents?
He’s chemo-sick and his fingernails black, rotting.
Still his sleeves are rolled up to show off his tattoos
done in 1941 when he was thirteen and there was a war
and he was a runaway on a Merchant Marine ship with
a forged baptismal certificate.
He fills his tray with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, potatoes,
only managing to eat half, saving room for pie.
There are so many pies here, apple, pumpkin, cherry.
And he calls the waitress, “Peanut,” and asks for coffee,
but anymore they don’t smile back.
I could go on about the despair here as I eat my baked potato
and breaded chicken wings. Here, where the lonely and obese
line up at the never ending chocolate fountain. Where toothless
derelicts eat sweet potato mush with their barren wives
and wash it down with Dr. Pepper.
But I won’t.
Look at all this food, he says.
My Grandfather believes that this is the best life can offer,
an endless bounty at a discounted price.
I will never disagree.
KISSING CUNT IN CANNES
Never been to France, though,
riding motorcycles along the Riveria,
a supermodel’s arms around my waist
like Mick Jagger, fucking movie starlets
Or Keith Richards so affordably
torn and frayed in a Nazi mansion
basement, high on pure junk, and
fucking movie starlets and socialites.
Been up to Youngstown,
and you don’t get laid there.
Not even Jagger could manage
in that pothole town.
East Pittsburgh is a maybe at best.
The sexiest girls in Bob’s Lounge
all have chewed fingernails and
pound shots of well tequila and
have boyfriends with monster trucks.
Even if you got the Vicodins she
wants she’s probably not going
home with anyone, but she’ll buy
the pills with her boyfriend’s cash.
And you’re exiled on Greensburg
Pike, another loser in another town
full of losers. Two generations now who
never got lucky.