Archives for posts with tag: Restaurants

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College Sophomore at Jack in the Box
by Tamara Madison

They start me at the drink station, lunch shift.
Orders flood the kitchen. Soon I am using both hands
to pop lids onto soda cups, unaware that there is
a right way to do it. Diet Coke pours all over me,
7-Up slurries the floor. It takes a few orders to figure out
how the shake machine works. At the end of the shift,
there is shake mix in my hair, soda and coffee
all over the floor. The manager asks to see me.

“Some people are cut out for this sort of work,
and some people aren’t,” he muses. “Are you telling me
not to come back tomorrow?” “Oh, no, no! Come back
of course!” And I do. By the start of the second shift,
I have learned how to spread my palm over the lid
as I pop it on the cup. I learn how to read
the order display. I discover that onion rings
are better than I thought, that shake mix
and coffee can brighten my day, and that hamburgers
even at Jack in the Box, are made from meat.

By the end of the week, the other employees
have shed their wariness and are almost friendly.
After work each day, I drive to Pacific Beach;
whether the afternoon is sunny or chilled with fog,
I bathe in the cool waves until all the grease
and the sticky soda fizz wash into the green Pacific.

PHOTO: The first Jack in the Box restaurant (San Diego, 1960s).  Established in 1951, the chain was the first to use an intercom system for drive through orders.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison grew up on a citrus farm in California’s Coachella Valley.  Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Pearl, Chiron Review, and The Writer’s Almanac. She is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers and two full-length poetry collection Wild Domestic  and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. She has just retired from 29 years of teaching English and French in Los Angeles and she is over-the-moon thrilled!

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Doggie Diner, Geary and Arguello, 1969
by Vince Gotera

Out of San Francisco night, the cool fog’s
gray fingers caressing hills and houses,
in chef’s hat and bowtie, the smiling Dog,
ten-foot-tall dachshund’s head in fiberglass.

Tina, my first real high school girlfriend,
and I entered through the shiny glass doors,
holding hands, both in hippie leathers, suede
vests and floppy hats, bellbottom cords.

It smelled like hog heaven, grease-laden air,
scents of amber-gold fries and sizzling thick
burgers, the sharp tang of cole slaw vinegar.
We ordered dogs slathered in chili with pickles

and mustard. The world was copacetic. Above
the diner, the Dog slowly turned, glowing like love.

PHOTO: Doggie Diner, San Francisco (1960s).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Doggie Diner is the iconic San Francisco restaurant chain, open from 1948 to 1986. Since it’s now gone, the Doggie Diner is a pleasant, nostalgic memory for anyone who grew up in The City during those years. Each diner had a sign rotating above the building, a huge grinning dog’s head in a bow tie and chef’s hat. In the documentary Doggie Diner History, someone who lived near a Doggie Diner as a child recalls how the dog head “helped me navigate my way home, like a big doggie-shaped lighthouse.” A 1985 photo by Roy Kaltschmidt titled “Doggie Diner — San Francisco Zoo,” captures this warm sentiment.¶ In the poem, I try to convey this sunny aura along with the optimistic tenor of the ’60s, the feeling among the young that everything and anything was possible. Remember that San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district was the epicenter of the Hippie movement. Although that positive ambience pervades the poem, I allude to the Vietnam war, even though it’s not really present to the teenaged couple: I use the phrase “the world,” which was what American soldiers in Vietnam called America. There was “the ’Nam” and there was “the world,” a romanticized paradise. So, although the speaker and his girlfriend feel all is “copacetic,” it’s really not, and they will soon, very soon, grow up into a world of harsh realities. But for now, in the “now” of the poem, life is wonderful. Happiness is a spicy chili dog, and the Doggie Diner is a kind of heaven.

AUTHOR PHOTO CAPTION: My senior photo in the high school yearbook.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vince Gotera is Editor Emeritus at the North American Review and professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches creative writing and American literature. His poetry collections include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, and the forthcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems appear in The American Journal of Poetry, Eunoia Review, Star*Line, Altered Reality Magazine, Spirit’s Tincture, Crow Hollow 19, and the anthologies A Prince Tribute, Delirious: A Poetic Celebration of Prince, and Lupine Lunes, as well as the textbook Composing Poetry. Vince blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar.

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GREEN CORN TAMALES
by Gerald Locklin

First in Tucson,
Now at El Cholo in L.A.
On western just south of Olympic,
My wife and I make a point
Of enjoying them once a summer.
 
Some tamales are not hot.
These are sweet with the syrup
Of young corn, steamed within
The husks.  Even the thin strand
Of a green pepper seems sweet.
Even the morsel of tender chicken
Seems sweet.
 
Sweet as sweethearts
On the evening promenade
Above the beach at Mazatlan.
Sweet as summer evenings.
Sweet as the respite, the
Renewal, at the end of day.
 
Think sweetly of green corn tamales,
Remembering that the water of the desert,
Hoarded by the thirsty cactus,
Is the sweetest water.

Reprinted by permission of the author from The Life Force Poems, © Gerald Locklin, 2002, Water Row Press, Sudbury, Massachusetts.

“Green Corn Tamales” by Gerald Locklin appears in the  Silver Birch Press Green Anthology: An Eclectic Collection of Poetry & Prose. The anthology includes poetry, short stories, essays, novel excerpts, and stage play scenes that touch on “green” in one way or another. The Silver Birch Press Green Anthology is available at Amazon.com (free Kindle version until 12/21/13).

Photo: El Cholo, Los Angeles. Visit the restaurant online at elcholo.com.

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“…our restaurants, motels, and watering places represent a kind of charged field where ordinary events — ordering a meal, spilling a little wine, remembering a certain bird — take on a significance that can only be called mythical, and that our writers, when they enter that field, know, instinctively know, that they are in such a significant place.”  From Gerald Stern‘s preface to Night Out: Poems About Hotels, Motels, Restaurants, and Bars, Edited by Kurt Brown and Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Night Out: Poems About Hotels, Motels, Restaurants, and Bars — published by Milkweed Press in Minneapolis — features the work of 125 poets, including Billy Collins and Charles Simic. Originally released in 1997, Amazon is currently selling copies of this 362-page book for 19 cents plus $3.99 shipping. Find it here.

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AT THE RESTAURANT
by Stephen Dunn

Six people are too many people
and a public place the wrong place
for what you’re thinking–
 
stop this now.
 
Who do you think you are?
The duck à l’orange is spectacular,
the flan the best in town.
 
But there among your friends
is the unspoken, as ever,
chatter and gaiety its familiar song.
 
And there’s your chronic emptiness
spiraling upward in search of words
you’ll dare not say
 
without irony.
You should have stayed at home.
It’s part of the social contract
 
to seem to be where your body is,
and you’ve been elsewhere like this,
for Christ’s sake, countless times;
 
behave, feign.
 
Certainly you believe a part of decency
is to overlook, to let pass?
Praise the Caesar salad. Praise Susan’s
 
black dress, Paul’s promotion and raise.
Inexcusable, the slaughter in this world.
Insufficient, the merely decent man.
***
“At the Restaurant” appears in Stephen Dunn’s collection DIFFERENT HOURS, which won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

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Congratulations to Ellaraine Lockie, author of the Silver Birch Press poetry release COFFEE HOUSE CONFESSIONS on another stellar review — this one from the literary magazine THE MOM EGG. Excerpts from the review are included below.

THE MOM EGG BOOK REVIEW
by Katie Baker

Coffee shops are considered diverse gathering places, establishments where all walks of life, both young and old, come to read, write, congregate and socialize — and most importantly, get their coffee fix. However, one forgets the importance of the ritual cup when they begin to read Ellaraine Lockie’s chapbook, Coffee House Confessions. The chapbook features poems written in and about coffee houses around the world…

…what makes these poems in this chapbook unique is Lockie’s ability to connect — connect the reader to a place, a person (or people) and to materials through her writing. She creatively takes normal human behavior, mundane human interactions and creates beautifully crafted poems out of the occurrences…

Lockie has a unique talent in being able to observe without intruding, to even play along albeit with subtle humor, and become part of the story without becoming overwhelming to the reader. In the seemingly ordinary details of the coffee houses, we find extraordinary prose, clever and witty…

Her chapbook is refreshing, full of vibrant imagery. Each poem offers a humorous, poignant, and creative escape into the life of the coffee house.

***

Coffee House Confessions by Ellaraine Lockie is available at Amazon.com.

Cover image by Nick Warzinnickwarzin.com

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Caption: I’ll have the misspelled ‘Ceasar’ salad and the improperly hyphenated veal osso-buco.”

Credit: New Yorker cartoon by Jack Ziegler, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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“…our restaurants, motels, and watering places represent a kind of charged field where ordinary events — ordering a meal, spilling a little wine, remembering a certain bird — take on a significance that can only be called mythical, and that our writers, when they enter that field, know, instinctively y now, that they are in such a significant place.” 

From Gerald Stern‘s preface to Night Out: Poems About Hotels, Motels, Restaurants, and Bars, Edited by Kurt Brown and Laure_Anne Bosselaar

Thoughts: What a great concept for a poetry collection! The book — published by the outstanding Milkweed Press in Minneapolis — features the work of 125 poets, including Billy Collins and Charles Simic. Originally released in 1997, Amazon is currently selling copies of this 362-page book for 57 cents plus $3.99 shipping. Find it here.