Joel Holland

Lectures from a Waffle House

help me digest my breakfast.
This odd-hour, high-summer-esque collation
would cost less than the gas it took to drive there,
yet reminds me of home more than I’d willingly admit.
You know the place: something frozen perpetually frying
in the open faced kitchen, hiding nothing,
not unlike the staff that occupies that space
where the magic happens:
limited square-foot space taking full advantage
of 1960’s real estate regulations,
prioritizing the size of the store-front.
Saved: land costs, taxes, complications.
Earned: A shoebox-style design, elongated
in 2,000 parking lots across the Nation.
Picture yourself in one of them,
splurging on the Sausage, Egg, Cheese bowl,
two waffles & orange juice with coffee. Or picture me,
happy. Smooth as life, she says, nodding as I pour
syrup over crispy golden-brown patterns
pointing towards itself on my plate. Nice choice,
she nods again, and then for good measure: “Yeyup.
life’s like syrup, kinda smooth until you sleep
with your husbands secretary.”
I ask her to repeat herself, sure I misheard.
I did not. You know the taste:
dry hash drenched in an abundance of artificial cheese.
Listening, collecting,
monologues laced with wisdom like,
“cash is harder to part with
than funds on a credit card”
or maybe “feed a man for a week
and he’ll remember where you live.”
I laugh at what is true & accept a refill.
Everyone around me: satisfied or hungry.
I’m ready for the bill, somewhere between
“college is a scam, just like the Powerball”
& “at the end of the day, life’s a buffet.”
She returns my card & says “thanks” and
I say “thanks” in exchange and leave, deciding
what it means to love a place.

Joel Holland has several small publications in the stratosphere as well as an award here or there. This fall, they will have work featured in Kansas City Voices.

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