Thursday, December 16, 2010

“More coffee?”

Poets will from time to time take themselves and their work too seriously, pulling their readers down by the heaviness of words and lines that scream out, “This is poetry.” Poet Charles Bukowski will very probably never be accused of that. From Bone Palace Ballet: New Poems (1997) — One small sample of Bukowski humor.


she has served me and I am eating. “is everything all right?” she asks.

“yes, thank you…”

“more coffee?”

“all right…”

I am reading the paper and eating. “cream?” she asks.

“no, thanks…”

she pours the coffee. 5 minutes pass. she is back

“is everything all right?”


“more coffee?”


“are you going to try one of our desserts?”

“no, thank you…”

“come on, you only live once!”

“yes, I know…”

she leaves again. but not for long.

“you care for more rolls?”

“no, thank you…”

“did you like the turkey?”


“you ought to try our roast beef.”

“you mean now?”

“no, next time.”

she just stands there. “I saw you in here the other day with your daughter.”

“that was my wife.”

“oh, you’re married…”


“more coffee?”

“all right.”

“you take cream?”

“no cream.”

she comes back and pours the coffee. then leaves,

I try it. it’s unbearably strong. they don’t clean the coffee maker.

it’s time to leave, I need the bill. I look for the waitress. I don’t see her anywhere.

I read the paper: mass murderer boils the heads for soup.

the bus boy comes by, picks up my plate, leaves the bad coffee.

then he comes back carrying the coffee container.

“more coffee?”

“no, thanks, have you seen the waitress?”


“where is she?”

“I don’t know.” he walks off.

I sit waiting. nobody appears. I get up from the table to go look for the waitress.

I find her just outside the kitchen, she’s smoking a cigarette and talking to the cook.

“waitress,” I ask, “can I have the check?”

“oh yes,” she smiles.

I go back and sit down. she arrives with the check. she’s signed her name at the bottom,

“thanks! Carolyn.” she has drawn a little smiling face.

she puts down the check on top of a wet spot.

“more coffee?”

“no, thanks.”

“was everything all right?”


she walks off. I leave a tip, go to the register, pay the bill.

the owner is behind the register. she takes my money, hands me the change without looking at me. she is an older woman, a bit on the heavy side. still looking at something else in front of her she asks, “was everything all right?”

“yes,” I answer and go out the door and into the street and into the world, never to return there again, not in this life or any life. I find my car, get in, drive away thinking, now if that wasn’t hell then hell isn’t going to be so bad.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America