“What’ll it be, folks,” the waiter asked
“Last call for coffee”
I sat toying with shreds of paper napkins
while next to me, Melvin
gravely contemplated the question,
as though he might have more than
two nickels in his pocket
to pay for our coffee.
Across from us, a man sat
nursing a cup of coffee and the thought
crossed my mind that he might not have
even one nickel to pay for Phillies
bottomless coffee cup.
Philly, I knew, was in the kitchen
washing up pots and pans,
and didn’t suffer fools gladly.
You had better have a nickel in your pocket
when you sat down to order,
or Philly might take you out to the back alley
and give you a knuckle sandwich.
I didn’t recognize the stranger;
I didn’t know if eh knew about knuckle sandwiches.
Our waiter was just a kid,
Happy to have a job, any job,
in these hard times,
Even in the south side of town
where most of the buildings around Phillies
but the kid knew enough to whistle
for Philly to come out front
if there was trouble
over a nickel cup of coffee.
Sandra Lee smith
Originally compost April 18, 2009
Updated July 19, 2018