Poetry: Charles Springer



I am standing behind the front desk still
trying to balance yesterday’s receipts. He
is walking down Pacific Avenue
clad in a trench coat and one of those 40’s hats
with a broad silk band that men wear
when they do business. This all transpires
in that one minute out of the sixty between
no movement on the street
and when it suddenly fills with cabs and jitneys
and hookers heading home to their own beds.
The clock in the lobby says 6:15. He enters
and asks if the coffee shop is open and I motion
for him to go in. I cannot imagine
what Joe is doing up at this hour by himself
in Atlantic City. I wonder
was he out on the beach getting sand in his shoes.
Was he looking for rare shells the storm brought in?
Or has he just accepted another new day
with his hands holding each other behind his back?
Through the doorway I see him
sitting in the end booth. Veteran Estelle
refills his cup to the brim
without asking or spilling a drop. A smile
breaks at the corner of his mouth and sunlight
through the window turns the coffee urns golden.

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