Colonial Tea Room
At 5 AM you’re buttering the bagels and waiting
for your city sewer man to heave himself out of a hole
in Barclay Street and bring you a breakfast order for his crew.
The list is smudged and long and flush with desire:
burned bacon on a jelly-smeared bialy, cold brisket on a kaiser,
side of gravy, and Flop Two on a Raft, which, in diner lingo,
means two eggs over easy served on toast, and which
no real waiter would ever think to say.
And when all thirteen coffees, two teas and one hot chocolate
are initialed and ready to pop in a cardboard box, it’s time to nestle,
in the carton’s coolest corner, a bag of Hershey bars—six boys,
four girls, girls being what you write if you don’t want nuts,
and a cup of nervous pudding, which means Jell-O.
A bus at the corner gasps like a mastodon as you total
his order and hand him his change in small bills.
Then he tips you a dollar and swings off to feed his men
and to straddle a pipe, perhaps, as he eats the cheese Danish
that you have kissed at least a hundred times.