the smooch-off

July, 1965

such a simple mistake—but,
come on, I was only eighteen,
‘til now I could maybe boil water,
cooking was strictly up to my mother,
the challenge only to try to eat—
who’d hire me for “a short order cook”?

they did.

(everybody else already quit.)

and so, to concoct pizza sauce,
big can of red goo, add oregano,
in winter “a cup,” for summer “a quarter”
and after I dumped four full cups in
and realized I’d done it wrong,
no way on earth to get four cups out.

I hoped it wouldn’t make a difference.

(ha! hoped.)

night after night, and july hot,
long white apron, the pizza oven
(something like five-hundred-fifty degrees),
not in the mood to stop and think
what if I accidentally poison—?
customers weren’t buying anyway.

(never noticed what they dumped outside.)

ah, midnights at the drive-in movies,
pretty scuzzy, the novelty gone
and I had too much else to do
besides worry about “quality food”
or bother to train the one-day staff,
sweating my butt off ‘til 3 AM.

(popcorn, burgers, the condiment counter.)

fourth night (and I lasted three weeks)
a saturday night so the shack was crowded,
I brazenly face-to-faced my public,
almost selling anything to anyone,
kingpin of hawkers glowing pink—
done, scouring the pans in sink

(there was nobody else left to wash)

when there was shouting out front, the lull
suddenly filled with cackles and screams,
a skin-and-bones woman, a loud mouth drunk,
she’s demanding WHO MADE THE PIZZA?!?
I half-believe I’m about to be shot
but no, she only wants to kiss me.

huh? huh?

my next job should be chef in a bar.


Image:  Kitchen Treaty

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David Fitch

David Fitch – Retired from civil service; co-organizer with Carla Dodd of the Southeast Michigan Poetry Meetup; two prize-winning poems published last year by The Poetry Society of Michigan

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