An Ode to the Jersey Diner


Published November 13, 2022
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The Montclarion
Cracked, coral-painted lips, A name tag—MARIETTE.

Cracked, coral-painted lips,

A name tag—MARIETTE.

She bustles between vinyl booths

as though there aren’t

only three people here.

A hunched man with a white wispy neckbeard

flops over the counter

like an undercooked piece of bacon,

steel-toed boots kicking the rusty counter stool.

He orders the farmer’s breakfast.

(six eggs scrambled, eight slices of bacon,

oily homefries, buttered toast)

Mariette brings me my coffee.

As she sets it down, some spills on my hand.

It burns me as it drips down the mug

oozing onto a stray sugar packet.

This whole place oozes

some kind of feeling.

I order.

(Taylor ham, egg and cheese,

salt, pepper, ketchup)

Greasy tile floors caked

from endless breakfast

with the sounds of the interstate out my window.

The old man is waving down the waitress,

her hair is dusty like the white chipped ceramic cups.

I wonder who’s been here longer,

sun-faded, tacky and unchangeable.

With vinyl and paper menus and ancient waitresses irreplaceable.

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