Stevieslaw: Interview with the cub reporter in the Blue Moon Diner

To accompany Dinor Bleu: The Vanishing American Diner–Photographs by Chuck Fong at the Bellefonte Art Museum, our poetry group gave a recital of “diner” poems and stories entitled Blue Plate Special. A booklet of the poems and excerpts from the stories is available at the Museum. My poem, written for the occasion follows:

Interview with the Cub Reporter in the Blue Moon Diner

I come here now
and then to twirl
a stool or two,
and reminisce, I guess.
Can’t tell you why.

The wife and I bought
the Moon in 1946.
Ran her close on 40 years.
We named the meatloaf special
Rolaids, the hot open beef
Alka-Seltzer, and the chicken
with waffles, Pepto Bismol.
The customers laughed
and stole the menus.

We had a corner
on the truckers
and the tour buses,
fed the families
from the Holiday Inn
and the HoJos
just down the road.
Food that stayed
with you, I said
with a goofy grin.
I can still taste
the ham and bean soup.

I sold the booths
to Bob’s downtown.
They sell Sicilian
by the slice.
The counter top—
grey-green Formica
has begun to warp.
It was once quite fine
I pointed out,
although, I needn’t have.

My waitress, Sally, told me
the National had landed
in a fancy shop in Chelsea.
That’s somewhere in Manhattan,
I explained.
Big, brassy thing,
built in ’08,
had to weigh a half a ton
coin-free,
remembering the day
my wife and I
had walked it in.

I have the Jukebox—
Seeburg deluxe
with fourteen wallboxes,
the griddle and four freezers
at home in my garage.
My apron,
pure white
and pressed
is on the hook
beside the door,
should once again
the diner craze
descend upon America.
I carry the cooking grease
on me wherever I go
I sniffed.

I cut the staff loose.

Last week,
we buried Duke
beside the church
on Dogwood road.
The headstone
had him Charles.
Short-order cook
extraordinaire,
I joked,
in my best French.

His ex and son,
one single friend,
Sally, me
and Jane and Jim
were there
to share
the pasty sun
and all that fresh dirt.
Not one of them has thrived.

But I’ve aged better
than the “Blue Moon” sign,
forlorn and flaking in the wind,
and look at how the Jimson weed has bubbled
through the asphalt
of the parking lot, I said.
I laughed and told her
that’s the only green
that Duke would never pot.

I never missed a day,
I said—hoping
she might understand.
Fourteen hours at a shift,
longer if we were short.
I worked happy,
I worked sad,
Hung over,
Hung out to dry,
Thanksgiving,
Christmas,
and the 4th of July.

I walked away,
without care or tear,
I lied,
or reason to get out of bed
I said,
so softly
that it echoed
and reechoed off
the empty diner’s walls.

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2 Responses to Stevieslaw: Interview with the cub reporter in the Blue Moon Diner

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