THE WHITMAN ISSUE
POEM WRITTEN IN BARBECUE SAUCE
............(Arby’s 1:25 p.m.)
The big lady behind the frier coughs and scoops curlies into cups.
The guy with the cop moustache claps lips in praise of roast beef and jalapeno bites.
Walt Whitman comes in from 90 degrees with a green cap and pays
for coffee with pocket change and the senior discount.
The car dealer in the corner, his Hall Auto seagull laughing from his shirt,
looks at his Timex, looks depressed, looks for where he parked the pristine Pontiac.
The guy in tie and Kenneth Cole shoes slaps his sandwich
on the counter: I said no mayo! The big lady picks her ear.
The teenage cashier gears up for the growing line with a sigh.
The quiet country music fades behind squealing straws and creaking chairs asking am I a scale?
No one here won the $325 million Powerball. The Phat Farm
guy’s phone goes dead. The old sailor, bright white minus tattoos,
wears a fish belt, broken hat and pocket knife to meet his friend, the napkin dispenser.
They’re out of cups. Short on Trays. Need pennies. Walt blinks
and pours a packet of salt in his coffee, and pulls the PUSH door.
Daniel Pravda teaches creative writing and composition at Norfolk State University. He plays guitar and sings in a band, The Dunes, and recently hosted a poetry slam for the National Association of African-American Honors Programs Conference.