Five Poems by Richard L. Gegick


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,
rumored lovers.

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
with blisters.

Sun­days he dri­ves all morn­ing to
make it back for the early
din­ner rush.

Dur­ing pre-shift I ask how Daryl
is doing in Cleve­land though I
already know.

Not good,” he says. “But at
least while I was up there I finally
got to see the ocean.”


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
deceased. Christ.

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
crapped pants.

You run his black Amex,
call his aide, froth the milk,
and grab a mop.


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
new hobbies.

Like this guy, Bob­by, I worked with
68 and obsessed

want­ed my email so he could send me
dirty pictures.

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.


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.


Nev­er been to France, though,
rid­ing motor­cy­cles along the Riveria,
a supermodel’s arms around my waist
like Mick Jag­ger, fuck­ing movie starlets
and socialites.

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.

gegickRichard L. Gegick is from Traf­ford, PA. His fic­tion has appeared in Hot Met­al Bridge, Jen­ny Mag­a­zine, and oth­ers. He lives in Pitts­burgh where he writes and works as a waiter.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.