A POEM by CLEM FLOWERS

LOX, CAPERS, HONEY BUTTER


There's faux- Vineyard Grapes up on the wall from when this place was an attempt at a classy Italian restaurant that fell harder than the Roman Empire, thanks to a combination of revelations that was learning all the cooking was done by Mama Stouffer & there was a cavalcade of drugs being dealt next to the Prego sauces simmering on the high-end stoves in the back



The little faux-brick block stood at the port anchor of its strip mall parking lot, a poisonous reminder of the failure of two brothers from the tech sector who thought it would be an easy money tree to shake, as well as treat all their pals to vintage wine & fried octopus.


From its husk, a coffee place was built.


Open 24/7.


Hosting N.A., A.A., & Heroin Addicts Anon meetings.


Home to a local biker club that always is the head of the pack for donations to local charities.


Counter is run by a score of friendly faces who had rough goes of it in the regular world, but all are always so kind.


Owned by a machinist & former drug addict who wanted to put some good feelings back in the world.


& yet, a good chunk of the local community fucking hate the place.


All for the fact it does not jibe with the picture they like to paint of the town, what with bright eyed, tow-headed children, sprawling greeneries that defy the desert landscape, and therapy and addiction and recovery are things that should be secret and taken to your grave or something that you just compress and compact and compartmentalize with more drinking and drugs and denial and never ever admitting that you need help because that’s not the way to succeed so you just jam everything down, the way the chefs learned to do with the unsold meatballs from the night before into an industrial blender to add a little freshness to the stale Ragu you just hammer it down and ignore ignore ignore until it blossoms into a tumor or a hemorrhage or an ulcer or just having a nuclear meltdown because someone forgot to remove the onions from your Quarter Pounder all of that impotent rage is more in line with Good Values instead of trying to get some help.


Plus, I mean, have you seen some of the tattoos those folks have?

 

Clem Flowers (they/ them) is a poet, soft-spoken southern transplant, low rent aesthete, & dramatic tenor living in a mountain’s shadow in their Home of Truth, Utah. Publication credits include: Olney Magazine, Blue River Review, The Madrigal, Pink Plastic House Journal, Bullshit, Corporeal, Holyflea, Anti-Heroin Chic, & Warning Lines. Author of chapbooks 'STOKED & THRASHING' (Alien Buddha Press) & 'TWO OUT OF THREE FALLS' (Bullshit). Nb, bi, and queer as the day is long, living in a cozy apartment with their wonderful wife & sweet calico kitty. Found on Twitter: @clem_flowers.