Half-Past Twelve

May 31, 2008
By Andrew Dotson, Tucson, AZ

Standing here behind the counter
With the frills of this cheap polka-dotted cotton
Bunched up against my breast
A momentary silence sets in
As I glance to the groups of old timers
Hunched back in yellow, plastic booths
How many times
Have I refilled their mugs
With dark, depressive coffee?
As bitter as this time
Standing here with pen in hand.

Its half-past twelve and all is well
Except that bottle-blonde hair hopper
Who just got in?
Along with her boyfriend
Pomade in hair
It twinkles in the incandescent flare of the bulbs
Like a pitcher of icy lemonade
Out on a summer’s beach table
They’ll want their service soon,
I hope, cause anything, even a jostle
On my rump, or a clarion cat call would
Be a little fun
So many days I’ve spent heaving off
A storm of sweat
But now, it seems that half-past twelve
It’s all at rest

I mosey over, with pen in hand
With my little flap cap
Smelling still of starched ironing
And lean over the Formica
With a resting fist
“What’ll it be, kids? Coffee?”
“Make it two and two cheeseburgers
I still got an appetite from riding all day
In that Oldsmobile, the 58`. Popped me a tire
It got too late to wait out in the rain.”

So I go back behind the order window
And tell Jack the call
This cow man, beer-bellied womanizing snake
Cooking is all he lives for.
“Make it two,” the boy had said.
I wish it could exist, but no
Life here, now in Shelley’s Café
Is a reflection of life at
Half-past twelve.

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