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Jan Kinney


He sat by the corner window
Watching bits of dust float like plankton
In the greasy streams of sunlight
The warbles of the grill man’s radio talk show
His only company
A slow morning
Just a few tinks and scrapes
In his ears
Metal tines against thick white
Dinner plates

Back turned to the waitress
He ordered
The same as always
Eggs sunny side up dry toast black coffee
They never offered a refill
He paid in exact change
For six years
They called him The Invisible Man
Not like the other retirees who harmlessly flirted

When the ceaselessly exhaled
Sheath of condensation
Streamed away a strip of clear window
He watched
Every dog in the city
Lift its leg
On the scrubby stunted tree
Stretching up
Through an ocean of cigarette butts
In a cracked concrete planter
Someone’s idea of urban renewal

She bussed the empty tables
Slowly dragging the club foot
Behind the two-tiered cart
With a wobbling wheel
Not worth the minimum wage
He heard them say
But she’s part of the program
So the boss kept her on
Miles and miles
She pushed the cart past The Invisible Man

Six years
Bacon fat and ashtrays
Black and white tile floors punctuated by
Short blasts of winter air
Sucked in through the
Push pull doors
Just part of the program
Her name was Lillith
Waitresses twittered behind her back

One day
He called for his check
When the sweaty cook rung it up
And yelled
Hey you gave me twenty too much
The man who never spoke
On his way out the push pull doors said
And nodded toward the girl
Who was scraping his eggs away
What does tomorrow offer?