The literate cherry blossoms of the Golden Angel Pancake House

The other night at the Golden Angel pancake house with Jay and Megan, we ate grilled cheese with tomato and too many French fries; mine came with soup too but I gave it to Megan (cream of potato), and we talked about everything I missed last year, and I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of the booth. Vinyl is slippy. On our checks the waitress gave us each a sticker (every week she gets new stickers), and they were each different letters of the alphabet. Mine was an “L”.  Pink and jolly, a bouncy font like it just sprung from a can, or a literate cherry blossom.

That diner always reminds me of one of my favorite poems by Campbell McGrath, The Golden Angel Pancake House. His poem is about winter. But it’s in the book Spring Comes to Chicago.

…but which I’ve come to see with perfect hindsight
was no less than the mighty strongman
joy himself bending bars of steel upon a tattooed
skull, so much nobler and more rapacious
than his country cousins, bliss, elation, glee,
a troupe of toothless, dipsomaniacal clowns,
multiform and variable as flurries from blizzards,
while Joy is singular, present tense, predatory, priapic,
paradoxically composed of sorrow and terror
as ice is made of water, dense and pure,
darkly bejewelled, music rather than poetry,
preliterate, lapidary, dumb as an ox, cruel as youth,
magnificent and remorseless as Chicago in winter.

–Campbell McGrath

(Right now I’m carrying around his new one.)

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