Poetry by Allison Shoemaker |

October 15th in a Greasy Spoon

3 A.M. at an all nite diner and I am alone at some booth
drinking coffee, the tail end of a poor pot. My waitress
rolls silverware behind the counter, goes to high school
with my kid brother, is going to have a fat pink baby.
Our town is small and her boss is chewing his cud, all sweaty
and tired. I wonder, once her stomach has changed
from bulge to near-baby, what he will say then,
if he will think of her tummy as a spot on the silverware.
There are grains of rice in the salt shaker. The table smells
like dirty dishwater . The coffee is cold. I watch her
and wait for my bill. Her name is Rachel, maybe.
The place is open all night, and she and I
are Hopper’s Night Hawks, now. Someday

I will hold up that manager:
I walk with bill in hand to the counter and say put em up
and he rolls his piggy eyes at this mousy little thing but me I don’t
play games, just POW fold my bill which becomes a gun or knife
and then he puts em up, all right. His arms tremble
as he shows the nickel and dime crowd the yellow pit stains
on his nickel and dime shirt. Gimme all the loot I say and then
throw it to Rachel and tell her to run.

I take his sneer and jam it in my back pocket, tell him that
the floor needs mopping and the sign has burnt out
and that I am tired of coffee.

He stands amazed and the other Night Hawks stand too
and we walk together to the parking lot and for a moment glow there
in the streetlights. We smile at each other and then grow wings,
Rachel and her boss and the strangers and all of our old friends
and lost loves and I. We are brown and feathered
and not hawks at all, but sparrows,
and we rise into the cold and wild sky, and belong to the sky,
and the earth is so small and the future looks so damn big.

Allison Shoemaker is a graduate of Western Michigan University's creative writing program. Her work has appeared in The Pedestal and Barnwood, with work forthcoming in Dark Sky Magazine. She is a theater director and dramaturg living in Chicago.