‘Luncheonette’: A Poem by Tom Sexton

Here’s a poem from Tom Sexton’s new book, Cummiskey Alley: New and Selected Lowell Poems, which is available at www.loompress.com

Triangle Luncheonette

by Tom Sexton

 

With its gleaming black-and-white marble floor

and even its exotic name, Luncheonette,

it could never be mistaken for a lowly diner

like the Club Diner on Dutton Street.

On my fifteen-minute break from work,

I sat at the Triangle’s counter and ordered

a fried baloney sandwich on a bulkie roll.

 

Your order was ready when the baloney

began to pop on the grill and its edges slowly

darkened and began to curl, then the cook

lifted it from the grill, added a little mustard

and slid it down the counter with a flourish.

I imagined sharing one with my not-yet girlfriend,

who, a bit of mustard on her teeth, would fall in love.

 

*     *     *

Dan Branch of “49 Writer”s reviewed Tom’s book and wrote this about the poem above:

“Sexton begins his poem, ‘Triangle Luncheonette,’ with the description of a fifteen minute lunch break he took while young and living in Lowell. ‘Your order was nearly ready when the baloney/ began to pop on the grill and it’s edges slowly/ darkened and began to curl, and the cook/ lifted it from the grill, added a little mustard/ and slid it down the counter with a flourish.’ Then, as he did in many of the book’s poems, Sexton raises the subject matter of it with the ending sentence, ‘I imagine sharing one with my not-yet girlfriend,/ who, a bit of mustard in her teeth, would fall in love.’

‘Sexton punches up the poem with verbs like ‘pop’ and lines like, ‘slid it down the counter with a flourish.’ I’d been happy with the result if the poem stopped there. But the last sentence, with it reference to a not-yet-girlfriend, makes you realize that the rich smell and taste of the sandwich inspired the customer’s thoughts of one he wants to love. (I grew up happily eating fried baloney sandwiches, which may explain why I want to share this poem with readers.)”

 

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