My poem would have

Remembering a Jim Daniels poem from the mid-eighties that articulated who I met and loved while working in kitchens. Still love the last line. Never put her down.

May’s Poem

“I want to write a poem
about something beautiful,”
I tell May, the cook.
On my break from the grill
I stand against the open kitchen door
getting stoned.

“That shit make you stupid.”
May wrinkles her forehead
in waves of disapproval.

“I don’t need to be smart
to work here.”
The grease sticks to my skin
a slimy reminder
of what my future holds.

“I thought you was gonna be
a writer. What about that
beautiful poem?”

I take a long hit
and pinch out the joint.
“You’ll end up no good
like my boy Gerald.”

“May, I’m gonna make you
a beautiful poem.” I say
and I turn and grab her
and hug her to me
pick her up
and twirl her in circles
our sweaty uniforms sticking
together, her large breasts
heaving in my face
as she laughs and laughs
and the waitresses all come back
and the dishwasher who never smiles
makes a noise that could be
half a laugh.

But she’s heavy
and I have to put her down.
The manager stands there:
“Play time’s over. Break’s over.”
Everyone walks away
goes back to work.

This isn’t my beautiful poem, I know.
My poem would have no manager
no end to breaks.
My poem would have made her lighter.
My poem would have never put her down.