Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Coffee Klatch

Small town café—
We all know each other,
Except for the tourists coming in
Out of the rain, looking for “coast food”
Clam chowder and smoked salmon, I guess.

None of that here, but the tomato soup and the turkey
Sandwich are good today, or the enchilada.
Don’t forget the carrot cake, or the big ginger snaps,
And coffee.

Gotta have the coffee. Cups are over there, by the pot.
Serve yourself. The locals know all this, and just toss
Their dollars onto the cookie case when they come in,
Not bothering the cashier, who is talking on the phone,
Or helping get ready for the lunch rush, or back in the cooler,
Getting more turkey out for the sandwiches.

She’ll usually only come back out front if there is a shout the coffee’s about dry
Or some tourist walks in, wanting clam chowder or directions to the beach,
Until the Regulars leave, and then she’ll count the money, and fill the till.

Don’t sit at that table. It’s nearly ten, and time for the
Ten O’Clockers, the Regulars—
Some still buzzed from the Eight O’Clock Coffee Klatch,
At that other place, down the road.
Oh, only some of the Regulars hit both groups, but the news
Is still the same, and needs to be told and hashed over
Again, and again,
Often with some new twists and theories.
Stay around long enough and the story will change completely—
To a version you want to believe, at last.

Leftist Conspiracy and City Folk Power Hunger are the popular ones—
Bureaucratic follies and political jokes abound—
Funny only to those who are Right Wing.
Proud to be Red Necks, this group, or so they want to be
Until its their ox being gored, or their family member in a bind.

When the tables turn, they want what everyone else wants
And pretty darn fast, pushing their way to the head of the line,
Their own politics then be damned, when its their turn in the barrel.

I sip my coffee nearby, trying to talk sense with a friend. We share our views
Of what we read from that New York Times columnist this morning—
Speaking in near whispers, out of the earshot of the Regulars,
Whose guffaws over a racist or sexist joke (take your pick)
Flll the room
Again.

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