tree circles 3

By Barbara Eknoian

On Friday nights, we’d have
the Blue Plate Special prepared
by Greek short order cooks.
Miniature silver jukeboxes
hung above Formica tables
in each window booth.
I’d ask Dad for some quarters
to play the Platters or Presley.
The clatter of dishes
and the crowd in the diner
seemed to awaken my father
as he reached out to shake hands
and wave to old friends.
He’d often pick up the tab
thinking it was expected of him.
I’d wonder about all the dollars
he’d thrown away on strangers
on playing the numbers and horses
as I watched cigarette smoke
curl over the patrons’ heads.
That night, I noticed
the brassy red-headed waitress
holding a carafe of coffee,
wink at my father, then walk away
with a sure-of-herself wiggle.
Jake the Boxer flirted
with the blonde, married waitress.
Sultry Vera was out
for a night on the town.
I imagined musky odors floating
above cheap motel beds.
I thought of my mother
at home with the baby
a yellow layette blanket
wrapped snugly around him

(Previously published in my chapbook JERKUMSTANCES
by Pearl Editions and in my poetry book, WHY I MISS NEW JERSEY,
published by Everhart Press.)

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