Michael F. Goldman πŸ”ˆ

Read in landscape mode!

At the Victory Bar and Grill

West Berlin, New Jersey

There is no sunken dining area,
but there is a long table for twenty
set with coffee, decaf, and family, seated,
most wearing blue Happy Birthday tiaras
and purple Happy Birthday glitter hats.
A few have sunglasses, the party favor
since the poster says my stepfather
at eighty is still cool.
Among the group are several survivors
of cancer, heart disease, a gunshot.
Everyone is recognizable, though many
have not seen each other in ten years.
The buffet makes no effort
to be more than edible, little round
pancakes, little round waffles,
thick, sticky fruit sauce, square scrapple
with creamed chipped beef, plain
bagels cut into pieces.
A lonely man makes omelets to order
for six or seven people standing
in a matrix according to some
predetermined formula.
The person with the cake arrives late
(she put the wrong information – Victory Lane –
into her GPS and ended up grousing
obscenities by a school in a nearby town)
and the diner staff scrounge up a baggie
with three birthday candles and a lighter.
The birthday boy looks jazzy in sunglasses
and purple glitter hat and requests
a saxophone, of which there are none
to be had. The requisite song is sung.
Bottles of wine and gift cards are perused,
cake is sliced and eaten, leaving abstract
icing images of pink and brown on the
saucers. After fifty or so hugs goodbye,
probably also according to a predetermined
theory, guests seep out to the parking lot.
A few who like long goodbyes linger.
No one talks about next time.

Author Reading

About the Author

Michael Favala Goldman is a poet, jazz clarinetist and translator of Danish literature. Among his seventeen translated books is Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen, which made the New York Times Best 10 Books of 2021 as book three of The Copenhagen Trilogy. Michael’s five books of original poetry include Small Sovereign, which won first place at the 2022 Los Angeles Book Festival. His work has appeared in dozens of publications including The New Yorker, Rattle, and The Harvard Review. He lives in Northampton, Massachussetts, where he has been running bi-monthly poetry critique groups since 2018. Find him online at michaelfavalagoldman.com.