The Ambience of Polly’s Presence, #167

* title take from a line in this blog entry at Digital Methadone (clickety)

After a day
at the grind,
shuffling your papers
and dealing with
all the nitty
gritty that comes
with a job
title of substance,
with much grist
to mull over
and crush beneath
plates of fries,
kill the lights,
lock the gate,
mutter a story
on the way
out the locked
door and stalk
up the steps
to the flickering
bulbs hung over
an empty lot.

We shout goodnight
to those going
home to families
and to girlfriends
and their obligations,
something more important
left to do,
our hollers mutated
into uncatchable echoes
off concrete walls,
the labeled, painted
and color coded
pillars holding up
this artificial facade.

We head off
in separate cars,
to the ATM
or nearest shortcut,
arrive and wait
on the bench
out in front
of the diner
for the crew
to show up.

Entering, a gaggle
of squawking geese,
she never asks
where we want
to sit down,
if we need
to know specials.

The coffee pot
is out hot
on the table
before our seats
are warmed up.

Back in college,
she’d let us
grab the mic
and order direct
from the chef,
who peeked out
confused by voices
he didn’t know,
to see her
humping a stool
at the bar,
her lips smirking.

Over the years
we’ve all wondered
how long she’s
been slinging omlettes
and tossing burgers,
how many plates
of homemade biscuits
and country fries
she has delivered.
We’ve wondered if
ther’s a union,
the local chapter
of national prominence
of old, sweet,
tart, bitter women
whom you need
to sit with
at least three
times a week
before they’ll give
you so much
as the time.

That’s all Polly.
And to those
who judge, but
stop by once,
for a quick
bite to eat,
you might call
her crass, mean.

But please, consider,
if you’re going
to spend life
slinging the hash,
picking up after
the overripe dregs
inside of us,
why get enamored
or waste time
with every drunk
and college punk
who wanders in
ready to complain
about cold fries.

There’s no sense.

So when she
cuts you off
at the door,
at the start 
of some silly
musing to ask
if you plan
on ordering, don’t
take it personally.

There’s no love
from a waitress
until the fourth
visit, at least,
not so much
as a wink
or a nod,
and even then,
after you’ve committed
time and energy,
her only respect
rises from facts,
that you must
share with her
the same meaningless
life and schedule.

Otherwise, why would
you be here?

Not to stop
while on vacation
or late run
for the pregnant
wife, not because
some rock concert
just got out
or you’ve got
a bad case
of the munchies
from the chronic.

So you’ll sit
and like it.

But worry not,
fries are hot
and the ambience
of Polly’s presence
is more than
enough to warm
the tired heart.

Go find her,
right about now
she is filling
the salt shakers.

Tip her well.

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A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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