Excellent Coffee Shop

for Luc Sante

by Robert Long

Where did it go? Some guy
In a t-shirt folding eggs
Into a quadrilateral on the griddle:

Cheese omelette. "Excellent"
In looping neon. Streaky
Plate glass, marmalade

In a saucer, humid home fries.
And from there, to the greenish light
Of the Lexington Avenue line:

Downtown for me; Summit, N. J. for you.
What was it like, reading Gurdjieff
As you slid under the Hudson's

Unfathomable weight?
History's glimpses and rumor.
One friend dead "of unknown causes,"

Another in jail indefinitely, others
Missing in action or selling real estate.
It's only been twenty-five years.

What's success, anyway? Those
Were the best omelettes I can remember
Though they weren't even omelettes, of course.

Yorkville today's a rainy mess
Of antique shops in slummy disarray.
Our old high school's grimy in gray light:

Central Park is full of bus fumes.
What did we talk about, in our booth
At the Excellent Coffee Shop, while we ate

What they gave us? Where's the cook,
The blue-rinsed cashier? Whose children
Bust through the school doors at 2:32,

And where do they go?

Other Selected Poems from Blue:

Tie City
Terminal Cafe