Three Prose Poems by Lori Cramer

The Bus Boy

Tony got hired three weeks ago, but he hasn’t spoken a word to me or any of the other waitresses at the diner. The best part of the workday is when I get to watch him wipe down the tables after the dinner rush, stretching his lanky body to clean every corner, scour every spot. I like to imagine him as a center fielder in the big leagues, extending his glove over the fence to rob the batter of a home run. Everyone keeps talking about Tony’s great work ethic. Maybe someday it’ll rub off on me.

To the Saleswoman Who Snubbed Me

You’ve been trained, no doubt, to size up potential customers as they enter the clothing store where you work. That way, you can focus your attention on those most likely to purchase the high-priced garments you’ve been hired to sell.

When a woman in a business suit strides in ahead of me, you greet her with a cheery hello and an offer of assistance. Once you’ve steered her toward the silk shirts, you take exactly one second to evaluate me.

Faded baseball T. Old jeans. Scuffed sneakers.

Not worth your time.

You avert your gaze, abandoning not just politeness but human decency. I’m standing right in front of you, yet you pretend I’m invisible.

By the time I arrived at your store, I’d already had the kind of day that’d left me feeling undone. Unloved. Unnecessary. If only you’d been trained in common courtesy.

Open All Night

2:49 a.m. Nobody here but you and me and the half-asleep waitress with the Oriole Bird neck tattoo. “Seat yourself,” she says, waving us away, so we slide into our favorite booth, our bare legs scraping against duct-taped seats. No need for menus. We’ll have the usual.

Lori Cramer’s short prose has appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, Splonk, Unbroken Journal, and Whale Road Review, among others. Her story “Scars” (Fictive Dream, February 2018) was nominated for Best Microfiction 2019. Twitter: @LCramer29.

Image: Film still from “Isn’t there just as much potential for alienation and loneliness now” by Alan Coon

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close