Half a dozen old men sit in a line along the counter, some watching the news on a tiny screen mounted over the stacks of styrofoam to-go containers. Others hunch over cups of coffee keeping silent company, each with himself. A young woman in a blue face mask wipes down the counter with a stained towel.
At a table three young men in paint-spattered shirts quietly converse in Spanish and finish up their bacon and eggs. At the back of the dining room, a toddler encased in a highchair flings to the floor chubby fistfuls of Cheerios. His father ignores him and shoves a forkful of syrup-soaked pancake into his mouth. The child’s mother, with dark circles under her eyes, sucks on a straw in a glass of soda and stares into nothingness.
The rest of the diner’s mismatched plastic white chairs and farm-styled faux oak tables are vacant. Framed photos of vintage cars hang crookedly on dingy yellow walls intermixed with black and white signed photos of forgotten celebrities, a head shot of Ronald Reagan, a tattered newspaper restaurant review from 1994, and a broken neon Budweiser sign.
In the center of a wall is a poster of Helnwein’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
Unceasing top offs–
soggy newsprint spread across
chipped dark Formica
*A haibun is descriptive prose followed by a haiku tangentially related to the prose.