A Moment of Reflection Occurring In A
Diner Between Nashville and Memphis

Brent Long

The waitress is not half-bad,
and neither is the food
if you keep it in context. But
the young couple in the booth

near the corner trouble me,
the way an old song will
during a certain time of year
or a friend unwittingly conjuring

up a nightmare with a snide comment
about one long-forgotten mistake or other.

The highway feels like
a drawn-out consequence.

But I've made up my mind--
I'm headed out for Boston
or some northern constellation.

If I knew what was good for me
I would sleep or sit here another hour,
counting the reasons I have for drinking.

Maybe drop a quarter in the jukebox
and let some cowboy tell the truth
about the length of this life,
the physical vernacular of love.


The 2River View, 3_1 (Fall 1998)