only waitress at the truck stop who never uses the cash register

by Justin Hyde
Salty Dreams
Third Place, November 2008
Judged by Hélène Cardona and John Fitzgerald


pamela
is half indian,
grey-black hair
in a double braid
down her back.

every time
she serves me
another waitress
rings the ticket.

i figured
she was slow
or bad with numbers,
maybe had a
theft charge
in her past.

but yesterday
on my way out
she was sitting
on the
hood of her car
smoking a
cigarette.

come here a sec
tell me
what this says,
she motioned over
and handed me
a white piece of paper
creased in thirds.

told me
she found it
taped to her
apartment door
that morning.

i told her
it was a note
from her landlord
saying she had
five business days
to get rid of
her dog.

she stood up
and snuffed out
the cigarette
with her heel.

bear’s been
with me
since idaho,
she said
and walked back in
leaving the note
in my hand.


This poem has a nice flow and interesting narrative. It's concise and compelling, and keeps the reader surprised until the end. The waitress is very well captured, almost cinematic. --Hélène Cardona and John Fitzgerald

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