R.T. Castleberry: “July, Roadhouse Dinner”




No leg level, no 2 chairs bent alike,
café tables bear an Aztec mosaic top.
Blue neon of a “Family Service” sign 
blocks the windows view.
After early over-service,
office clerks stumble to SUV and sedan.
High chatter of children at their coloring
clip a drinking mother’s flirtation.
Plastic menu pages flap to flutter open.
Date night dinner decisions split
between barbecue and buffalo wings,
Jamaican beer, California merlot.
I top Bacardi dark with Mexican soda,
offer an excuse no one wants,
no one expects to hear.
A rockabilly band rumbles
at a Junior Parker melody,
chords fat as a freight train.
Phone cameras flash, texting screens 
vivid as a predator’s smile.
A table of wits withers the air.

The band breaks.
I take a bottle from the car,
leave my watch in its bag,
find a bench on the smoker’s patio. 
The skin of the sky is a wind of ocher sand,
the fracture of stars beyond, behind
the desert’s slivered moon.
There are county-wide flames to the west.
With a shift in direction,
fire breaks at the highway line won’t hold.
Ocatillo rattle against wrought iron posts.
Through the talk, no one is listening.


About the Author: R.T. Castleberry is a widely published poet and critic. His work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Trajectory, Blue Collar Review, White Wall Review, The Alembic and Visitant. Internationally, Castleberry’s work has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. Mr. Castleberry’s work has been featured in the anthologies, Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, The Weight of Addition, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and You Can Hear the Ocean: An Anthology of Classic and Current Poetry.


More By R.T. Castleberry:

Down Cold Lanes


Image Credit: John Margolies “Mr. Peanut sign, (Half Dollar Bar sign), Route 1, Peabody, Massachusetts” Courtesy of the John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.


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