Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poet's Corner

If literary fiction is misunderstood and ignored by Joe Sixpack, what hope does poetry have of reaching the unwashed masses? Not much. Not much at all.

Unless you can find just the right poem, that is.

This is the first look at a new feature we're calling Poet's Corner, a series aimed to prove that not only is poetry not dead, but that it isn't all flowers and butterflies and unrequited love anymore. We hope you enjoy it.

Short-order Cook
by Jim Daniels

An average joe comes in
and orders thirty cheeseburgers and thirty fries.

I wait for him to pay before I start cooking.
He pays.
He ain't no average joe.

The grill is just big enough for ten rows of three.
I slap the burgers down
throw two buckets of fries in the deep frier
and they pop pop spit spit . . .
pss . . .

The counter girls laugh.
I concentrate.
It is the crucial point—
they are ready for the cheese:
my fingers shake as I tear off slices
toss them on the burgers/fries done/dump/
refill buckets/burgers ready/flip into buns/
beat that melting cheese/wrap burgers in plastic/
into paper bags/fries done/dump/fill thirty bags/
bring them to the counter/wipe sweat on sleeve
and smile at the counter girls.
I puff my chest out and bellow:
"Thirty cheeseburgers, thirty fries!"
They look at me funny.
I grab a handful of ice, toss it in my mouth
do a little dance and walk back to the grill.
Pressure, responsibility, success,
thirty cheeseburgers, thirty fries.


  1. I'm partial to Billy Collins. Where so many poets are pretentious and artsy, he is down to earth and real.

    My favorite:

    Another Reason I Don't Keep a Gun in the House
    by Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States

    The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
    He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
    that he barks every time they leave the house.
    They must switch him on on their way out.
    The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
    I close all the windows in the house
    and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
    but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
    barking, barking, barking,
    and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
    his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
    had included a part for barking dog.
    When the record finally ends he is still barking,
    sitting there in the oboe section barking,
    his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
    entreating him with his baton
    while the other musicians listen in respectful
    silence to the famous barking dog solo,
    that endless coda that first established
    Beethoven as an innovative genius.

  2. I'll have to take a look at Collins. I'll admit up front that this poetry series is as much for me to discover new poems, as it is for me to evangelize things I'm already familiar with.

    It's interesting that he is one of the few poets who was highlighted as making any money this year at this link about the Wasteland of modern poetry:

  3. Billy Collins is one of my favorite poets. Shoveling Snow with Buddha and Marginalia are great... I also enjoy I Go Back to the House for a Book. Collins has a way of writing about the most ordinary moments in a profound way.

  4. This poem makes me want to cry. It is so an acknowledgement on the world I live in that I feel as though someone just looked me in the eyes and said, I Love You. I can go conceptual and I can go existential but sometimes I just want to be home and know that I have a neighbor. Thanks MacEvoy. Think I'll just take a big breath.

  5. Glad you liked it, Octavia. We may live in different states, but you know you're my neighbor.