Three Poems By Rodney Torreson

Even with Morning Still Working the Dark at 6:05         

and a few long-faced raindrops on the windshield,            
the immense electric sign on Lake Michigan Drive            
has flashed on. Light has lunged

in all directions, to boast that the sun is already risen 
at Mr. Burger, filtering through branches across the lot.
Forget the fuzzy wonders eggs may become,

for even as I shift into park, I know that the cook
is probably picking up an egg or clicking it
on the rim of a bowl, sometimes two at a time,

eggs sloshing, quietly whooping 
since they will soon be on my plate.
At the end of breakfast toast is sure to push

the yolk around before sopping it up.
Slamming the car door, I know that the sunny side 
will soon appear before me, in the midst 

of white clouds that crisp brown at the edges.
On the side two slices of bacon are welcome 
anytime to break in, while the creed 

of the coffee pot keeps it all straight,
the shell of a new day breaking around me.
In the big, wide windows lighting 

my parking space, already the man 
who beat me to the door is stretching his arms 
over his head, not knowing that he is cracking

the dawn. While he awakens, I’m sure
his dreams stay small as the bluster of silverware, 
while at the grill, the head cook stands

amidst the rustling, the top of his bald head, 
a perfect sphere—a shiny reminder
of his unspoken promise to deliver.
No Sunny-Side-Up Ruminations
but pushing toast about at Mr. Burger--
soaking up the yolk,
I settle on sips of coffee
and spotting a robin high
on a power line outside the window,
then thinking—whatever color sun
it developed from in the shell—
there must have been dark clouds
sealed in—to inure the bird
to this world’s tragedies
or guard against them, for suddenly—
as the robin tufts up feathers
fifteen feet above the flying cars—
instinct points its beak both ways
four or five times
for a gap in traffic
before, finally, it flicks out wings
and swoops across the street,
careful not to be struck
by false security, say—
some sky-blue shelled panel truck. 
A Busboy Fully Mechanized He’d Have You Believe
and Always in a Hurry
his legs timekeepers, his long arms
flicking forth and back fast as windshield wipers
in the same rapid beat which he’ll run
a washcloth over a table a moment later.
His big hands gobble up dirty plates and cups  
in a sleight of hand, pulling
in salt and pepper where those small towers  
had ventured and sets them straight about
where they should be—by the silver napkin castle,
head jerking to each side, the sleeves of 
his white shirt rolled up short. His dirty plate muscles 
popping out show he’s all business, the plates
in no time scraped fast with a spatula and piled
in a big plastic tub and pushed in a rolling cart
galloping over a raised spot in the carpet,
disappearing a moment into the heart  
of the kitchen no customers sees,
where you’d think maybe he’d concede
to a moment of fatigue, but quickly
he’s out again, a windup man, tireless 
in avoiding eyes, his washcloth smothering
a spot of food as it sweats out another table,
his arms sweeping back and forth, unhindered
each day by the gravity of worry. 

The poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2007-2010, Rodney Torreson’s third full-length collection of poetry, THE JUKEBOX WAS THE JURY OF THEIR LOVE, was issued by Finishing Line Press in 2019. In addition, Torreson has new poems forthcoming in AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POETRY, MAIN STREET RAG, NORTH DAKOTA QUARTERLY, PATERSON LITERARY REVIEW, and STREETLIGHT.

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