THE WAFFLE HOUSE


Red flashes to green. You watch 
The traffic light swing like a sequined acrobat 
Without a net. There's a lot of asphalt 
And a lavender, cement truck and 
A woman tenderly picking weeds outside. 

As your turn signal clicks, 
You begin to understand.that 
You come here because you want to, 
have to, make sense of 
The median with the hard yellow lines. 

Inside this place, aphorisms have souls, 
Physical forms. No Japetto working the strings 
Or little, flaccid men panicking behind curtains, 
Everything here is in plain sight. Inside these walls 
Paradoxes do more than make due, they live. 

Manners, not monies, are the currency 
Traded here. No loud sigh will garner a seat; 
Seeing Miss Lola and Mattie struggling 
To keep pace, a man in a double-breasted suit 
Busts a table, clearing dishes from a corner booth, 

Then spreads out his newspaper to wait. 
The pea-green phone on the wall trills and trills 
A loud red tantrum like a warbler, 
Making a two-year-old circle 
His hands around his mama's waist, 

An apology for that morning's 
Chocolate milk and fruit puff episode. 
Barry walks in, dazed, amidst the chaos. 
Mattie drops everything 
To pour him a cup of coffee. 

No pretense of first come, first served. 
No affectations of taking his order, 
Just gives him coffee and space, 
Doesn't shoot him through with her usual 
Staccato of honey-baby pleasantries. 

He has just popped his wife 
One in the mouth or escaped 
Here to calm the desire to. Finally, 
Blue-haired Miss Lola greets you, 
Pouring black coffee and poetry. 

"The usual?" she asks. 
You nod, hold your breath, 
Desperate to hear her croon: 
"Four eggs/hold the yolks/lite oil/ 
Scrambled/dry raisin and grits." 

She updates you on her grandbabies, 
But sees how you are 
Distracted by the flickering light above, 
She proceeds to tell you that, ten years ago, 
She unscrewed every third fluorescent, 

Her reasoning: "Nothing, food especially, 
Needs that kind of close inspection. 
Soft lightin' makes everything more palatable." 
The simplicity of the logic, the wisdom 
Astounds you. Your thoughts turn bravely 

Toward the protuberant gut of the man at the counter, 
The workboots, the low-slung dark denim, 
Hairy crevice and all. He croaks along with the juke box, 
"I believe I can fly.I believe.." And as his eyes close, 
You begin to see him, arms outstretched, soaring.