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Peter Mladinic [Poetry]


River Edge Diner


“Frank’s going to fill the church

with beautiful singing,” my mother said.

She’d never even heard him sing!

A choir singer, a fair alto, his voice

a far cry from Luther Vandross,

that crooner entombed near her in a wall

in Paramus.

My family followed her to the cemetery,

a priest said words,

Frank was there.  The cemetery

stored her body till the wall was ready.

I recall icy roads, frigid air.  Earlier,

much earlier that morning

sitting across from Frank,

suddenly shouts erupted at the edge

of physical violence, an irate man,

a waitress likely ending her night shift.

Had he gotten the wrong order, or a cold

bacon cheese omelet?

The storm of abuse died but not before

alarming us two. Earlier still,

my mother’s storms, a belt in her hand,

my arm got the buckle end,

her hysteria, her hair long and black,

then short and gray, her words sometimes

falsely optimistic, then speech slurred

by stroke. Then her silence,

the church,

the limo on slick roads

hours after

a jerk shouting at a waitress so to wake

the dead was asked to leave.


Peter Mladinic's most recent book of poems, Voices from the Past, is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications.  An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico, United States.

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