Photo by Sophie Yewell @sophieyuul

Waiting Tables

poetic dispatches from restaurant shifts.  

By Dillon Cranston


When asked

What I do for work

                                     “I get up

                                      every morning

                                      and roll a boulder

                                      up a hill.”

We must imagine Sisyphus

    having back problems.

Francisco caught me

stretching in the men’s room.

He asked, “You too?”

The boulder industry

  isn’t bad, though

there aren’t many benefits

     & the hours are tough,

and though I like my job,

that’s not half as much as

I like leaving it,

as when

the day is late

    & I’m nearly

at the top of the hill

& the view

ain’t bad

& my


                                You know.


replenishing waters

at work     replacing a customers knife

when my hand brushes his:


O my life

the dinner crew

hath arrived

Notes on Wine

-Sancerre: Sauv. Blanc: Citrus, more intense than Muscadet,


-Pouilly Fume: Same Grape as Sancerre

-smokier, FUME

            remember that

-Saumur –– cabernet franc:

medium body, a little earthy,

great with chicken

Chablis: All Chardonnay

-Green apple/Lemon

Bourgogne Blanc

-More weight and fruit


-black plums & prunes. Bigger . Steaks yeah?

march 2 –– Hungover at Work

One article read, “You’ve poisoned yourself,”

and described my condition as a dopamine desert,

similar to having depression, so, for a few hours,

I got a taste of what

my friends feel

every day.

        Alcohol ran me down,

    robbed me at the door.

I tried all my coworkers’ remedies:

    pickle juice, soda water

        with bitters, Nothing

      could I keep down.

      I got so low

         I could see the ants

            like black stars

               in the cracks

           of our restaurant.

  Eventually, the managers

     took pity,

      leading me downstairs

          to the Secret Nap

            Room, where

              an empty cot

                 was kept.

  There I slept,

      pulling all the power

      from the ground

   to return their kindness.


      on the floor,

          every busser & waiter,

          all our busy hosts and

            customers were

          simultaneously healed.

They shifted their shoulders,

    straightened their backs,

        let out a

          light breath.

“Did you feel that?”

    They started to ask.

            “I feel.........



                                                       I slept.

feb 28

i love the Me still milling at home,

saving every penny earned or

Not Even Working,

spending full days in bed or

on the couch with music playing,

getting in bouts with mom and

listening to dad talk

at length about math,

while I am crushed under

another day on my legs,

and spilt champagne


march 7

skipped a day — no downtime

but it was nice to see you.

This morning I fumbled

with the end of the rope.

I thought that it should

have been longer. you

know those mornings

you long for death?

And yet, everyone

on my train was

living a harder

life than me.

Buck up!

I think we’ll

be alright.

march 14

meeting johnny in the bakery

both holding bread plates

having gone for the same sticky bun

he hands me his spare, which is warm

while mine is cold,

walking home, a wet, rotty

wooden desk, a chimney

steaming in the snow

twelve hours behind

on the other side

of the planet

my mother

she sleeps


if i knew the life i’d lose

[infatuated with the love

i’d need to] cut between my teeth,

the first time at broadway deli

that i sat & had my breakfast

or the last customer of the day

who ordered a cortado

and an omelette

(so tired of food

   so ready to write

about something new]

april 13

I want my life back. I relinquished my life

for a moment or so

I could see just how that felt

but I want it back now. I want it back.

I want my life five days in a row

    I want it if not seven

the GM asked me Why I Was Leaving

well , because my body hurts , pablo

    I have sold you my life

for pennies on the dollar

I sold you my spine and

the wool from my eyes

for ten dollars per hour

but I want it back now

    that spring is in season

        I didn’t give it

to you for the keeping

I want it back now,


I want it all back.

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