Toothpicks (signing the bill and readying to leave)

Toothpicks rise high above sweating cheese,
waving shiny yellow, green, and blue cellophane flags
like some beacon to heaven
or a long overdue book fine,
getting paid with dollars and cents;
Pushed beneath the glow of an emerald lamp shade
upon the cherry finish over oak.

My expression lasted a lifetime
in the moment
she forgave
She nicknames me cursive,
but all I ever learned was how to print
and type—
and print my name squiggly,
so as to suggest that I am merely in a rush,
but would otherwise express myself in the venerable hand
of a teacher from Boston who loved his student in 1895.

“Have you ever noticed how the sun does not set until after hours?”
she asked, stroking the outside edge of her frigid water glass.

Let the shaken drink ring
to the bottom of our toes
in sound of heavy machinery
rattling screws and bolts beneath floor.
Let the bartender cry,
“Help me teacher”
with nothing more than a smooth awkward glance,
as though the limes and olives knew some truth
that he could never observe.

written on 05/15/2010 by: Matt Kane