Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Lunch Spots in Syracuse 1975 by Jim Bourey

The Odessa, west of the fairgrounds,
was where we snuck off for long lunches,
and in summer that could mean three hours
of cognac shots followed by cold beer
chasers. Pyrohi, borscht and kapusnyak
from the Ukranian kitchen fortified our guts
against the booze. Lenny would always
weep for his lost land, his shot through
the head parents. When that happened
we tried to sober up
get back to the job
on University Hill.

On some paydays we’d roll out Rock Cut Road
to the strip club/burger joint near the quarry.
The burgers were okay but the chili
was hotter than any of the dancers. Tony
was in love with Jasmine and he’d drop
forty bucks for a private dance, plead
with her to run away.
She always turned him down.
We always went back to work.

Fisher’s favorite bar was Flanagan’s.
We went there on Fridays during Lent, ate
perch from Oneida Lake if the ice was out.
His friends from the Turner’s Club
hung out there. They drank Utica Club,
talked about machining jobs moving
to Missouri. I sympathized. But not much.
Wouldn’t trust these guys
with steel-cutting lathes
after their midday drinking.

Most days I had my noon break
on the south side of the quad
in the shade of Bowne Hall.
Two brown bags.
A ham and cheese sandwich in one.
A bottle of amber liquid in the other.
Then I’d go back to the stockroom.

Jim Bourey is an old poet who lives on the northern edge of the Adirondack Mountains. His chapbook “Silence, Interrupted” was published in 2015 by the Broadkill River Press. His work has appeared in Rye Whiskey Review, Mojave River Review, Stillwater Review, Gargoyle, Broadkill Review and other journals and anthologies. He is also a contributing editor for The Broadkill Review. Jim’s new full-length collection “The Distance Between Us” from Cold River Press, is set for release in August 2020.

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