[31] Meat and Potatoes, John C. Mannone

Refrigerator-cold air wafts off the T-bone
the cook placed on the wooden counter. She slaps
them on hot steel smacking bone—flesh glistening
as it splatters.

The feller next to me stares at the grill-food then shifts
his eyes back to his scrambled eggs and grits
while hunkered down over the counter to conceal
his knees pushing trough his tattered jeans, and hide

the holes in his dirty T-shirt—bony flesh poking
through. He catches me looking. Chews his grits
a bit harder, faster, as if that would make them stick
to his ribs better. I don’t have to ask

the waitress what’s up with this guy. I fumble
for the phone in my coat pocket, make it ring,
then mouth a few words into the vacant other end.
I nudge the guy on his shoulder, Hey, Buddy.

I gotta roll my rig. Do you want my steak?
The hungry man tips his ball cap, his blue
eyes flutter as he stutters out a thanks. I wink
at the waitress as I pay the bill.

My eighteen-wheeler rumbles as it lumbers down
a few exits to another Waffle House. I imagine
water-smoke dancing, the smell of seared beef,
and hash browns smothered in a ring, crackling oil.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close