Just Another Shift

Nicholas Reading

On the streets, these crowded lines of stores

and delivery trucks idling, the backfire

of my manager’s Chevy is my father’s hand

waking us for school as if everything was right

and our own car, a Buick, started every morning.


Behind the restaurant, next to the dump,

our cooks take turns smoking

sitting on five gallon drums beating

their knuckles against the rims.

They laugh again in the kitchen

with their hands spotted with blood.


I serve another dinner. Check water.

Once I waited on an old lady,

dressed in a blue gown from before I was born,

here celebrating her dead husband’s birthday.

She drank three whiskeys and a gimlet

for herself. She doesn’t remind me


of family. But she still remains

at every table I greet. Her dress has faded

to tones matching her husband’s face. She asks

before I can speak, and what will we have?

Knowing full well that bones will come. 


 About the Writer
Split Lip Press

Nicholas Reading is a pretty big deal. Just ask him. He is the author of the chapbook The Party In Question (Burnside Review Press, 2007). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Bat City Review, jubilat, Nimrod, Painted Bride Quarterly, and San Pedro River Review. He also serves as the Managing Editor for Sport Literate. His most recent chapbook, Love & Sundries, is scheduled to release by Split Lip Press in November 2014. Visit him at www.nicholasreading.com.