J. Clark Hubbard

Ode to Pancakes Forgotten on the Roof of an Almost-Friend’s Jeep

In high school, I nearly became a saint,
almost pulling off a miracle in Hillsdale, Michigan,
ordering two pancakes from a collegetown diner despite
the overworked & underpaid server’s subtle suggestion that I
don’t do that, they’re big as hell. But I was 18, trying to impress
new almost-friends..

To impress childhood friends,
I bought every book of magic tricks
I could when I hit up a Scholastic book fair,
the pungency of paperbacks & nerd-sweat, dollar
bills in a tight fist, falling asleep with a book spilled
over my stomach, the nightstand lamp on until my father
went to bed at midnight.

At midnight back in Michigan, my almost-
friends asked for me to do the card trick once
more, it’s impossible, literally impossible, & they’re right,
this is a 53-card deck, but none of them will ever read this poem
& know the truth about that evening in the diner, all of us discovering
whether or not this was where our future would unravel, syrup on our wrists,
our sole goal appearing capable.

But my sleight-of-mouth was incapable of disappearing the plate-dwarfing pastry. Red-faced, I
asked for a to-go box. It was snowing as we left the diner & I didn’t notice the hole in my pocket
until later, a trail of 53 crisp Bicycles in the Michigan snow, the last night I did magic for anyone.

J. Clark Hubbard is a poet and teacher existing in West TN with his partner, Abbey. He is pursuing an MFA at the University of Memphis while working for The Pinch––Memphis’ literary journal. Clark has been published in Soundings East, Ember Chasm Review, & Beyond Words Literary Magazine, among others. He can be found on Twitter @jclarkhubbard.

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