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Art of Eating

Finally unable to resist
the red-brick cafe
on Sixth Street, featuring
"SPECIAL 6 A.M. TO 11 A.M.
BEANS $4.99." Greasier
and older than a 1930s
Edward Hopper but with
the same smell-of-pee
man at the round-stool
counter next to me,
gray felt hat brim down,
staring at his plate.

"No hay torta de jamon.
How about a plain ham
and cheese?" the fry-
cook-owner-waiter says,
which he builds layer
by layer next to the huge
carbonized stove--square
white brown-crusted bread,
pale yellow mayo, pink
ham, mustard-colored
mustard, orange cheddar
cheese, water-droplet
pea green lettuce, slices
of red beefsteak tomato--
just like a cut sandwich
on a stamped metal
Coca-Cola medallion sign.

He is wearing a cute white
overseas soda-fountain
cap, with his blond hair
bobbed in the back, curving
forward at the sides,
under fresh pink cheeks,
and smiles, showing
perfect white teeth,
as he sets the piece of art
down in front of me,
like in the sign.

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