Iowa Writes

ZACK GAUCK
Never Closed


Coffee rings on countertop, shuffle of waitresses’ hips;
Late night workers and cancelled flights—layovers until dawn.
Strange town, stranger diner.
Always open—always serving.

Breakfast here is unaffected by time,
        Eggs, bacon, side of distress.

Waitress one:
Her husband is drunk again, she has that glazed look.
She is surprised you notice—her pen shakes.

Across the room.        Workers
        Flannel-clad, soot blackened palms, they talk nonsense,
                                                    and forget to tip.

Coffee rings on countertop, shuffle of waitresses’ hips;
Late night workers and cancelled flights—layovers until dawn.
Strange town, stranger diner.
Always open—always serving.

Breakfast here is unaffected by time,
        Eggs, bacon, side of distress.

Waitress one:
Her husband is drunk again, she has that glazed look.
She is surprised you notice—her pen shakes.

Across the room.        Workers
        Flannel-clad, soot blackened palms, they talk nonsense,
                                                    and forget to tip.

A family sits—corner booth.
Cerulean in hand, coloring the sky.
Father: eyes to the table, hair between fingertips, muttering, meditating, feet on luggage ottoman.
Mother: holding daughter close, pigtails lay motionless.

Juke box plays decades. The cook hums along.
He once worked in a factory just outside of town inspecting undergarments.
              #27
His wife left him for a musician, took refuge in a blue-green Volkswagen—Dead Head sticker proudly attached.

The vespertine lights flicker. Out of the grit, Venus sparkles.
Folded newspaper, crimson ‘O’
Wanted: loyal, hardworking individual for third-shift stocking job.

Waitress-two sits curbside, cancer in hand.
Her arms rest on knees—she lets out a smoke infested sigh.
No one to go home to, no one to call.
She took this job so that she might one day leave this place,
The embers glow.
An ash dance.
Puff.

A few dollars tossed near syrup,
Soiled napkin, knife and fork spoon on platter.
The bell jingles,
Continue on.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


ZACK GAUCK

Zack Gauck is a southerner with no accent, from Cary, North Carolina. In high school he enrolled in Chinese for his foreign language and came to the conclusion that Chinese should be his major in college. He is 21 years old, still watches cartoons, and wishes that he knew ninjitsu.  Most of his furniture was found on the curbside.

"Never Closed" appeared originally in earthwords, the undergraduate literary review at the University of Iowa.  The review's mission is to showcase the creative works of UI undergraduates in literature and the arts, while providing students with an educational experience with the production of a literary magazine.

earthwords

This page was first displayed
on November 14, 2006

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