The MFA in Creative Writing Program at Manhattanville College

May 27th, 2016

Waffle House for Carter

Dammit, Carter,

this greasy morning coffee,

spattered and scattered breakfast

will not blind the poet’s eye.

The juke box goes cold until

the swolled woman in the red

pleather coat checks out of her

hotel room and into a booth.

Among the spatulas, waffle irons,

grill scrapers, the clatter of breakfast

utensils, this woman is slipped

up under some man who is not

her husband he feeds the juke box

and Otis, Al and Luther rattle

out of the busted overhead speaker.

There’s a dope dealer with a cell

phone in his ear and an orange soda

in his hand covered with gold rings

at the booth across the way.

The Waffle House workers are

checked out, clocked out, off

the floor except for Belinda,

the blond headed black lady who

keeps my coffee full and hot.

I harmonize with the noise of

minimum wage workers and Al,

Luther and Otis and when the lady

stuffs her last dollar into the what-could-be

a Wurlitzer, I feel the need to move

or are my feet just stuck to the floor.

Four cups of coffee are enough to move

a man with prostate problems, eggs

and sausage can’t hurt this heart that’s

been scattered and splattered like the faces

of the patrons at the Waffle House

Early Bird Special. Two rode

hard white alcoholic painters

pulling overtime to keep from

losing their doublewide, a bald

headed brother with Bluetooth

and cheap gold chains hustling

knock off Tim’s out of his

Mercedes with thirty-day tags,

the poor little white girl with big ears

and shiny new braces that her

step-daddy barely can afford on

the tithes he gets from his part-time

gig at the store front church, preaching

to a congregation who believe in waffles,

the salvation of maple syrup. Now Miss

Belinda makes another round with extra

creamer, we all need lightning up she jokes,

I’ve seen it all. What comes out after

midnight ain’t worth speaking about

and church people are piss poor tippers,

Granddaddy said, can’t trust a town where

there are more steeples than liquor stores.

*

Marty Silverthorne holds degrees from St. Andrews Presbyterian College and East Carolina University. He has published six chapbooks including his latest Holy Ghosts of Whiskey. He has received several grants from the NC Arts Council and in 2015 he won the NC Poetry Society Poet Laureate Award.

What motivates him to create?
I’m infected with the sound of words and what they convey.

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