An average joe comes in and orders thirty cheeseburgers and thirty fries. I wait for him to pay before I start cooking. He pays. He ain't no average joe. The grill is just big enough for ten rows of three. I slap the burgers down throw two buckets of fries in the deep frier and they pop pop, spit spit. . . pssss. . . The counter girls laugh. I concentrate. It is the crucial point-- they are ready for the cheese: my fingers shake as I tear off slices toss them on the burgers/fries done/dump/ refill buckets/burgers ready/flip into buns/ beat that melting cheese/wrap burgers in plastic/ into paper bags/fries done/dump/fill thirty bags/ bring them to the counter/wipe sweat on sleeve and smile at the counter girls. I puff my chest out and bellow: Thirty cheeseburgers! Thirty fries! I grab a handful of ice, toss it in my mouth do a little dance and walk back to the grill. Pressure, responsibility, success. Thirty cheeseburgers, thirty fries.
From Show and Tell: New and Selected Poems by Jim Daniels. Originally appeared in Places/Everyone. Copyright © 1985 by Jim Daniels. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. All rights reserved.