THE GATHERING

A jukebox holds a corner

of the room hostage.

Half lit.  Its neon’s struggle

to blink.  A scratchy song

labors in love.  Diner patrons

huddle in whispers.  A black

and white checkered floor supports

night traffic.  Crumpled napkins

on the tables; one has a phone

number written in red.  Green

cracked seat cushions welcome

the tired and depressed.  The cook

rings a bell.  Liver and onions,

extra gravy.  The lone waitress

invented slow motion.  An oily

aroma searches for victims.  Untied

shoes.  Shirts missing buttons.

Hats tipped.  Heavy mascara.

Leather jackets.  Men with tattoos

and toothpicks.  The song skips,

holding onto one word.  No one

notices.

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