When I walk into the wash of fluorescents, I like to hang my blue vest
on the back of a folding chair. There is no discernible pattern to the chairs’ array:
some are marchpane, some brown, others industrial gray,
all loosed in a sad orbit around those hollow, plastic tables you see
at church potlucks, buckling under Crock-Pots or, maybe, at going away parties.
Management bought sheet cake for April birthdays: green and pink frosting in splotches.
Big June, with the bum knee, naps in the back on one of the spent pleather couches
where Patsy’s old magazines stack up. You can still read
her name and address under the stripes of Sharpie. In Deli, we’d
use the same trick to blot out expiration times on the corn dogs and old meats.
Management pokes a head in, says something about additional training, and leaves.
Tony, who braids his beard, says additional training can go fuck itself.
I eat stolen Deli provolone microwaved on a slice of wheat, and watch Mel,
in Shipping, as he reads the Jehovah’s Witnesses tracts he keeps in a plastic bag, ‘For rain,’
he says. In dry April. I think a few things: about when Thom explained
over the hiss of the frier why he shaves off his eyebrows.
He looks nice without them, with his one tooth like a pulpit. And, since time allows,
I re-picture this morning’s riverine spread of ice-colored fat
in a piece of pastrami cut #4 for the old woman whose knotted veins match
the lunch meat’s, or the irrigation ditch that spans the pastureland out behind the back fence.
ARISTOTLE JOHNS is a writer from Colorado. He lives in Salt Lake City, where he is pursuing a PhD in creative writing. Aristotle owes all and anything he is to his family and best friends.