Joe’s Deli

There is a quiet stillness every night

After dishes have been washed in the sink,

Surfaces wiped down, the floor moped, the grill

Scraped clean, and utensils like the spatula

Placed neatly on aluminum foil. The day’s work

Is over and Joe can go home to rest.

Joe’s intrinsic sense of order does rests

In his kitchen when he leaves for the night.

Usually he gets so backed up with work

That dirty dishes pile high in the sink,

Food debris covers the metal spatula,

And black grease cakes the surface of the grill.

During the lunch and dinner rush, the grill

Is full of cheesesteaks and orders from the rest

Of the menu. Like lightening, Joe’s spatula

Streams chopping, maneuvering the black night

Of the grill’s caked grease. His mood sinks

With incoming orders from those off work

Who are grumpy and angry that he can’t work

Faster to feed their hunger. They just grill

Him with demands like water drains in a sink

Channeling their troubles onto he who cannot rest.

Joe works to stay cheerful but by end of night

He’s ready to attack with spatula.

Watching Joe maneuver the spatula

One wouldn’t guess that his marriage doesn’t work,

That he sleeps on the sofa at night

His brain a’frying on a buttered grill;

That he dreads being alone for the rest

Of his life, just a drain to the world’s sink.

At night leaking pipes under kitchen sink

Spew puddles over the floor. The spatula

Collects dust on its foil with the rest

Of the utensils. When Joe comes to work

In the morning, he heats up his clean grill

And looks across the wrecked stillness of night.

Day after day, the sun sinks into night

While Joe stands over grill with spatuala

At work in dysfunction, waiting to rest