Single, married, widowed or divorced,
they all flock to the Tick-Tock Diner
for breakfast with the buxom waitress,
nightingaily, in her frilly frock,
who loves to feed their yawning faces.

They leave behind either furnished rooms
or sleeping wives who never do breakfast.

Guys with gaping mouths and missing teeth
assemble on stools,
like a brood of birds, sitting in a nest waiting to be fed.

The swirl of cigarette smoke hovers
over cup after cup of coffee.

They savor molasses-raisin cookies,
apple-pan-dowdy, or puffed-up muffins,
the size of young breasts.

One man puts a coin in the Juke Box,
swaying to the strains of
“Love oh love, Oh careless love.”

He lingers as long as he can,
before leaving for work, feeling content.

Taking his place at the grinding monotony
on the Bendix assembly line, he fits together
nuts and bolts, springs and things
that fit together better than the way
his life has come apart.

When payday comes around,
he hunkers down like a wildebeast
murdering time,
more lost than found.

He settles in with a toothless grin,
two six-packs, a bottle of gin
and a night of ESPN.

What happened to the child within
who fills an empty space
that stretches back to the stars?