Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Living Wage

The Dish Café


Long-haired waitresses with ponytails
serve plate-sized hash browns
and bottomless cups of coffee
to dinette sets of friends
and single men,
their elbows on the counter,
as they check their phones
or flirt to incite a friendly smile.

Undecided between the merits
of sweet and savory,
I order my usual
but choose bacon over sausage,
at the waitress’ recommendation,
as the salty counterpoint
to the syrup-soaked pancake
as big as my head
and the perfect over-medium eggs.

Generosity on a plate
feeds more than the belly.
These angels of the morning
take care of the hungry,
un-caffeinated, and sleep-deprived.
After estimating the tip
I round it up a couple of bucks
and start my day
fueled by the comfort
of the last bite of bacon
and a warm goodbye.

Coffee Gods

Forget Jesus, coffee-shitting cats are my personal saviors. How their digestive process can produce the smoothest coffee in the world is heaven’s creation. I’m grateful for the third world disciples who’ve committed their lives to serving the furry deities so I can enjoy a cup of coffee that costs me more than they earn in a year. Don’t pity their poverty; sifting through feline scat to harvest the sweetened cherries for their first world brethren is in the service of the Lord. Being saved from the fires of hell should be enough for them, Amen.

Failing Market Economy

Carrots Blushing Purple

The carrots blushed purple at the price being charged for them. After all, they were the result of toiling in the soil, peasants’ work, but the prices were as high as those on uptown restaurant menus. Damn it, this was America! Not some socialist state where factory workers and ditch diggers were as important as doctors and lawyers. Who did those farmers think they were, wanting to be paid a living wage for their hours under the sun and cold mornings up before sunrise? At this rate those leafy-topped taproots would end up in the food bank box at the end of the market with wilted greens and dried-out rootlets. They’d sit there for three more days before some immigrant woman from a country that ends in “stan” passed them over because she thought their purple hue meant they were rotten. She wouldn’t have understood what “organic heirloom varietal” meant even if the hand-lettered market sign had still been stuck in the bunches. People who don’t make a living wage can’t afford to pay for anyone else to either.

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