Out back at the all-night diner

The assistant baker, shapely
in her chef’s whites, squeezes
past the rack of fresh rolls
cooling in the doorway
to stand in the alley by the stacks
of plastic milk crates & listen
to the robins waking, the occasional
rattle of the manhole cover out front
when a car goes over it, & the quiet
breath of the prep cook drawing
on his cigarette, pah . . . fff . . .

They are both still replaying
their conversation from the last break,
two hours before: how in less
than a month, she will move
to the next state for a job
that will let her work during the day
at a desk in a tall glass rectangle
next to the interstate, put
her college degree to use. I’d do
the same,
the prep cook told her.

As for himself, he’s decided
he’s tired of preparation.
The owner has promised
to give him some hours behind
the line, where the action is —
not to mention (& he didn’t)
the waitresses. Chilly out.
I’m getting goose pimples,

says the baker. The rolls harden
in their metal beds. Dawn settles
over everything like fine flour.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

20 Comments


  1. Good imagery. Especially in the first, uh, stanza, paragragh, however you refer to the first part of a poem. How did your brain spit out that one?

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  2. I’ve been in that kitchen too. You write so well Dave.

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  3. Heidi – Thanks. Stanza. I dunno, it just came out!

    Fred – Glad you thought so. This is partly based on a place where I used to work, as prep cook and line cook.

    Rachel – Yeah, I think Beth’s post shook this loose, for sure.

    qrr – You have? I didn’t know that. Thanks.

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  4. Well, if my post shook yours loose, the flour sifter did a fine job. A wonderful poem, with some special touches like the shapely baker edging past the rising rolls…which later harden in their beds…and the dawn like fine flour. Kudos, Dave.

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  5. I like the turn here:

    As for himself, he’s decided
    he’s tired of preparation.

    And this:

    The rolls harden
    in their metal beds. Dawn settles
    over everything like fine flour.

    Is really wonderful.

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  6. “Dawn settles over everything like fine flour.” Funny how though that’s nothing I’ve ever seen, I can see it. Wonderful poem!

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  7. Thanks for commenting, y’all. It’s always helpful to know what people liked and why (though I don’t mind criticism, either).

    And welcome to twitches and pauline! Thanks for stopping by.

    Reply

  8. Not much useful to add, except that particular time of day, combined with that particular setting for it (all-night diners, or for that matter bakeries) are some of my favorite things.

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  9. You and me both (though early morning is so much better if one hasn’t been up all night, I’ve found). Thanks for the comment.

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  10. I like very much the fine detail throughout. Quiet, undramatic but a powerful evocation of people & place.

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  11. Thanks, Dick. I guess it is a bit less dramatic than what I usually go for. I was writing under the influence of Jean Follain, FWIW.

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  12. Do all night diners in State College really have assistant bakers? Is that where we are?

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  13. Yup. They do a brisk business supplying rolls, kaiser buns and sticky buns to other area restaurants, as well as what they use themselves, which is quite a bit on busy football weekends.

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  14. Huh! It’s a big world. Great poem. Thanks.

    Reply

  15. you forgot the part about sneaking into the walk-in fridge to take a hit off the whip-cream canister. hihzzzz hihzzzz.

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  16. Dude, you could fill a chapbook with poems about that place. I also didn’t mention the muffled sounds of horny waitrons fucking on the back stairs. Didn’t want to spoil the mood.

    Reply

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