(And Now) Diner
By Roughly Enforcing Nostalgia
For John “Ace” Stevens.

Liner Notes
MP3 (low bit rate)

(Good evening Mr. & Mrs. North and South America and all the ships at sea let’s go to press: And Now . . .)

In the east end at my favorite local diner,
Joel cleans his plate while writing parodies of radio hits.
We could’ve been good friends; instead, I soon dropped off the earth
And he went up the river. Evan chants, “Let’s kick some shit!”

Sweet Angie’s telling anecdotes ‘bout working Fannie May
And getting held up by a guy who went “nuts as a Payday,”
While wiry Matt Chada practices telling his reflection to “Drop Dead,”
Ted’s to the right pitching his latest real estate,
While next to him Chilelli unwinds another of his great
Yarns: piercing his ear in English Comp with a paper clip (or so he said),

And now Heavy Metal Heather in her Boston Tee
Switched to her second stage: collecting glass figurines
And my ex, Allie, bust bursting through that New Wave dress (silver buttons all down her back),
Waldo once punched a dog chasing him in the snout,
He’s been Magooed by faith’s furvor; and paralyzed by self-doubt
Is Johnny, still in the basement trying to find Joyce’s decoder ring to help him crack.

In the main booth at our favorite local diner is
“Uncle” Rick Anselme, whose skate shop we helped turn a profit for.
He named his cat Guido (though hadn’t seen ),
Then had to close down: couldn’t file as losses anymore.

Well, McCoy got thin, he’s on tour with King Diamond,
Har became Wayne Campbell in Aurora, full-timing-it,
And Jason, who slept through Algebra (twice), writes code all the live-long day,
Smotz, who tore down the street like he was leading the heat,
Returned from his mission as one of God’s most . . . unique,
And Al, who could’ve had any girl he wanted, went gay.

And Ryan, who once told me “feet are neat” earnestly,
(Some stuff makes sense) went into podiatry,
And Angela told me to stick with the writing through all weather in a voice like she couldn’t hate a soul,
And Chilelli, with his stories ‘bout his girlfriend’s car crashes,
Came back from Marine basic training with his eyelashes
Turned stiff-grey and couldn’t even touch the soup in his bowl.

I got no more taste for co-opted geniuses who run on fossil fuels.
What did we do with all that kharma-to-burn?
Did we get drowned-out by the rules?
Remember when we plotted tactics in my basement ---------
“Have the whole world kiss our rings by the end of one sunset!” ---------
Now we can’t even make our minds up on what we wanna do tonight
(I think I could’ve been better friends with Joel had I not been soon consumed by fright).

On my left side at some two-bit 80’s diner
Sits Evan reading “Oceans,” pensive eyes swimming their coasts.
All vow to keep in touch; Ace says, “You won’t remember me,
So let’s not lie.” And he’s the one I think on most.

Shy Sammy used to play with Bill Carpenter’s lighters
In the corner, now he’s on his way to big stage performer,
And two of our brightest make ends meet delivering pies,
While some of our dimmest went and got the degree,
Matt C. got huge from lifting and got me sold on it completely,
And Rella, who cried in Dumb and Dumber, dumped me with dry eyes.

Now Rick talks down suicidal suburb queens,
“Easy Does It” was one of Luther Beydard’s theses,
Now he pops open can after canned laughter on those shoulder-padded Saturday nights,
R.P.M. moved to Danville but he never left here,
Ace is a 10 minute drive, I call him once every year
At Christmas, and I wish we’d never split up,
‘Cause I think I lost all of my fight,

And our favorite place got closed by F.D.A.,
So I swirl to each new diner by night,
And I’m the only one left, but I see ‘em sometimes
Eating cheese sticks (I hear they’re alright),
And I think: I still dare to sing out loud “No Surrender”?
I swear if Bruce was here he’d coldcock us with his Fender,
With his Fen-der!