M. J. Arcangelini

M. J. Arcangelini

M.J. (Michael Joseph) Arcangelini was born 1952 in western Pennsylvania. He has resided in northern California since 1979. He has published in a lot of little magazines, online journals, & over a dozen anthologies.  He is the author of five collections, the most recent of which is “A Quiet Ghost,” Luchador Press 2020. Arcangelini has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He can be reached at poetbear@sonic.net


They claim the highway has no best friend.” – Scott Wannberg

Rain constant, as day gives abrupt control to night. An offer of
food and a dry bed. The highway still there in the morning.

An intersection without gas station, market, or bar. Harmonica
in hand, I know 2 songs. No one around to hear for hours.

A night and a day at Raquette Lake, the Adirondacks unfold in mist.
Goodbyes just past the thruway toll booth before the trooper stopped.

In Santa Barbara he goes 3 blocks out of his way to find an
unoccupied spot to drop me off. A miracle van whisked me away.

All the windows down, my head hanging out one of them.
My traveling companion and the driver laugh about the gun.


Saturday night bar rush, drunks
lined up out the door. The hostess
scans the dining room searching for
anybody who looks about to leave.
Waitresses and busboys magically
manage not to trip over each other
crossing and re-crossing paths.
In the kitchen the wheel is prickly
with orders, tickets jam the line.
The mountain of heavy china next
to the Hobart never gets any smaller.
The entire menu is fair game
but at 2:30 in the morning it’s
breakfast everyone wants.
Half a dozen egg pans full and
another three or four omelet
pans all sizzling spitting grease
wanting to be flipped at the same time.
Grill full of bacon, sausage, ham –
toast popping, bell-ringing madness.

Linda brings back a set of
half-eaten over easys:
“The whites are too runny.”
I grab it out of her hand,
dump the eggs in the trash,
grab a hot pan, crack two eggs,
swirl them around, flip them,
let them sit while I flip five
other pans. I plate them, slap
at the bell. Linda takes them out.
A few minutes later she’s back:
“Yoke is cooked too much.”
I do it again, trying to cook
the whites more but not the yoke.
I send them out again.
A few minutes later Linda returns:
“Whites aren’t cooked enough, again.”
I look straight into her frustration.
I separate two eggs,
fry the whites right on the grill
until they’re crispy, plate them,
plop the raw yolks on top,
add a parsley sprig, slap at the bell.
Linda eyes my handiwork,
rolls her eyes, heads for the table.

Amid all the alcohol-induced
yammering and laughing,
the crashing, clashing dishes,
I still hear the customer scream,
shouting words I don’t need to
understand. I look through the window
and see a woman practically leaping
out of her seat cussing and swearing,
grabbing her coat heading for the door.
Linda looks across the dining room,
nods to me, smiles.
One less tip, but
one less drunken bitch.


Eating past hunger, contours expanding, thickening.
Emotions pushing appetite beyond need.

Time drags through the minutes, steeplechases
across days, weeks. Staggers into hazy dawns.

Jealous of hours spent sleeping, but worthless without them,
he fights it at night, clings to it in the morning.

Looking at books without reading them. Savoring titles,
nodding at authors like old friends seen across the street.

Distancing on the social apps. Gossip and politics.
Outrage exhaustion. No need to think for one’s self.

Listening to Miles Davis from 1974. Daydreaming
about doing things that aren’t a waste of time.

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