Pat  Jones

The Busboy’s Tale

Portland, Maine

“I need a fuck,” the waitress said to me.
At seventeen, this startled: what a gift
I thought, that she was so direct and free.
I had forgotten how Mainer’s tongues could lift
the “r” straight out of words and change their sense.
I blushed. She snapped, “What’s wrong with you today?”
She’d only asked me for a fork. Too dense,
I’d gulped and gaped and gotten in her way.

Both of us without the thing we needed
most — as usual, the same old story.
She had hungry customers to feed,
while I had only dreams of teenage glory.
At last, I handed her the wished-for fork
and grabbed my sponge, glad to get back to work.


Lisa Barnett lives with her husband and daughter in Havertown, Pennsylvania, and works as a pharmaceutical copywriter. Her poems have appeared in The Formalist, The Hudson Review, Iambs & Trochees, Measure, The New Criterion, Poetry, and other journals. Her chapbook, The Peacock Room, was published in 2001 by Somers Rocks Press.