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In a Diner in America Circa 1956

11.10.13 Posted in today's words by

Stephanie Nikolopoulos’ writing has appeared in BOMBlog, The Brooklyn Rail, Burnside Writers Collective, Gothamist, The Literary Traveler, The Millions, and other publications. She has also written introductions to classic reissues of Teddy Roosevelt’s Hunting the Grisly and Isabella Bird’s A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, as well as the Magna Graecia section for Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia. Stephanie has worked for more than a decade in the book publishing industry.

In a Diner in America Circa 1956
By Stephanie Nikolopoulos

He slid onto the stool at the diner counter
dropped his backpack on the dirty floor
and fiddled with a deserted saucer
til the waitress came to take his order.
He ordered apple pie a la mode and coffee.
He looked at me then hung his head
and fiddled with the saucer again.
“His mother and father were immigrants, you know?”
he said, seeing I was reading
Saroyan’s The Daring Young Man on the Trapeze.
“That’s how he’s able to write about the real America.
Because he can see, his eyes are open–
not clouded by the plastic America of Levittown
and Elvis on the television
and the legs of Marilyn Monroe
and Cold War kisses
and white-picket wishes.
His sad almond eyes see the holy
the way a cotton field is heaven descended
and the railroad conductor is Saint Peter
and did you know this diner is a church?
The waitress a priest.
Pie holy communion.
Book holy book.”


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