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Small Town Café, Morning
Richard Swanson

7:45. The sun, up, has found and is warming a wall
of the one-floor cube of a building.
Angie, inside, has come from the kitchen
with a basin and cloth to swab her counters.
She likes the cloth’s warm moisture, her day’s first sensation.
Jeff, the café’s owner, has turned on the stove,
and dotted its grill with strips of bacon.
Tuesday, he thinks: biscuits and gravy the lunch-time special.
A long time away. Eggs now. Concentrate.
As he moves them from carton to bowl, he salutes them,
or his sideburn has a last-night’s sleep itch he can’t find.
Reverie! Blare, honk! honk! A truck on Route 33,
a half-mile distant, bugles the village: Wake up, slackers!
8:00. The café open, Warren McPhee, County Judge, retired,
comes in, hangs up his jacket, and centers himself
on his stool at the base of the U-shaped seating.
He might be Hiz Honor again, presiding in court
over a case of waffles versus pancakes.
Others drift in, who take up parts of the paper
or talk of the weather. Angie writes down their orders,
not needing to ask what they want.
Things have changed here, in drastic evolutions.
Jeff and his cousin, one Sunday a decade ago,
rolled on marigold paint over the faded cream walls,
Judge McPhee leaves his tie home, Fridays.
Jelly for toast, in thumb-sized packets, 
even comes in non-grape flavors. Go, blackberry!
Strut your stuff, do it, crabapple-peach mélange!

© by Richard Swanson.
Used with the author’s permission.


Richard Swanson (1940 - 2023) taught college English and Creative Writing for 33 years. A devoted supporter of libraries and poetry, he was the author of two novels and several poetry collections. A resident of Madison, Wisconsin, Richard enjoyed cooking, fishing, and woodworking. He was well-known for his sense of humor, which was often reflected in his writing.

     Men in the Nude in Socks     Paparazzi Moments     Not Quite Eden    


Post New Comment:
I'm there.
Posted 11/19/2013 08:24 PM
I love how the judge "centers himself/on his stool." What better way to center oneself than on a stool at a small town cafe.
Posted 11/19/2013 07:57 AM
mike kriesel:
loved the judge presiding over the case of pancakes vs. waffles Mike Kriesel
Posted 11/18/2013 05:29 PM
A charming write, I felt as though I was sitting at the diner watching your piece unfold. Well done!
Posted 11/18/2013 02:55 PM
I like this poem. It takes me to States I do not know. All I know is that I will never be part of the jury. But go for it! We have Angies over here. They call in at Seven Eleven for a tub of mayonnaise and a Mars Bar.
Posted 11/18/2013 01:20 PM
I love the last stanza!
Posted 11/18/2013 12:13 PM
Marilyn L Taylor:
A winner, Richard. Very evocative!
Posted 11/18/2013 08:53 AM
heading out now for same. love those "thumb-sized packets" nothing like a good dive.
Posted 11/18/2013 08:42 AM
Ralph Murre:
Posted 11/18/2013 08:28 AM
The charm of this work is in its familiarity and its language. Hiz honor at the end of the U-shaped counter . . . I'm there! Fun poem, well crafted.
Posted 11/18/2013 08:15 AM
ed werstein:
A fine poem, Richard.
Posted 11/18/2013 08:14 AM
wonderful place, wonderful poem, right on! Thanks, Richard...
Posted 11/18/2013 07:11 AM

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