Dave Malone
Twig and Leaf, Louisville

Tom Waits sidled up to the bar
at the beat-up diner. He was younger
and less interesting and didn’t
say much. I was glad of it,
for I was secured in a booth
in the back with you.

The waitress had great hips
and took our order as if we’d
bunked regularly in her section
beneath neon life. The young cook
knocked grease off the griddle
before emerging to baby, baby
his girlfriend behind us.

You talked too much
and laughed too much
and pushed your hair
behind your ears too much,
and you and I drank too much
of that hard coffee, until we stopped
in this piazza of silence.

And that’s when I felt
Tom on us, his face all wrinkled up
in the bright lights by the grill
and time slowed down.
His cigarette ash wouldn’t fall
and dangled mid-air like a gray kite.
A pen along the register slunk toward
his fingers as if a song could write itself.