A Day At the Cafe…

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sitting sipping
caffeine laced warmth from
Styrofoam cups filled in
the machine’s trickled faceless brew,
my eyes rove, drinking in
the scenes unfolding in snippets
like a collage of live snapshots
from a medley of lives
meeting at another crossroad.

a girl in polka dots and freckles
her pigtails limp as her sagging spirits,
sits in a secluded corner,
quietly rifling through her thoughts–
seeking solitude in the crowd,
as her brow puckers in a frown
and listless eyes gaze at distant horizons
wherein perhaps replay
the haunting moments of lost past,
while her coffee loses steam
as it cools its heels and
the cheese omelette congeals into
an unappetizing mass,
yet she sits forlorn and forgotten
unaware of the creeping minutes.

they sit together
their smiles both eager and hesitant
holding hand stealthily under the table,
their gazes longing-filled and dreamy,
talking in whispers, oblivious to
hustle and noise as they share
another stolen moment of togetherness,
too absentminded to bother
about tasteless lukewarm coffee,
or stale muffins,
mundane realities lost in
the tattoo of heart beats tripping
over themselves to be heard
over the furor of voices.

wafting aroma from the pantry
is a blend of smells sweet and piquant,
sighs of fresh pancakes mixed
with scent of brewing tea,
and the fragrance of
pastries and cookies emerging
from the ancient hot oven,
breath of spices and butter
tickles starved nostrils of appetite,
from simmering gravies and broths,
and expectant faces crowd the counter
to place orders with smacked lips,
while the stomach growls
in anticipation of delights to come.

carelessly tossed menus are forgotten
as favorites are hastily parroted
by hordes of youngsters to a hassled waiter
and the token queue snakes down
the over crowded counter in
a room now filled with
laughter, voices and cigarette smoke,
the tablecloth is stained in
dribbled gravy and spilled coffee,
blotches of ketchup and molten butter
while morsels are hurriedly gobbled
by those preoccupied with
unfolding events the beckoning day.

hollered greeting, ringing mobile phones,
impatient, terse exchanges of another busy morn,
merge with the banter and laughter
of those with moments of respite
in their hip pockets,
a misplaced order, a wrongly served dish
are nightmares of the manager
come alive yet again,
customers placated, tempers calmed
tax the tact of harassed waiters,
spilled cup of coffee ensues a fist fight
for a pristine shirt ruined
and a free breakfast
barely manages to sooth frayed nerves.

the college youth in jeans and hipsters,
old gentlemen in tweeds
with an umbrella or a jaunty stick,
spinsters in pince-nez and floral dresses,
girls giggling together in shorts
unaware of leery eyed executives
in business suits and neck ties,
together crowd the tables
adorned in pink with
whites roses winking in wooden vases
newspapers are read, files rifled through,
homeworks copied and lessons mugged,
gossips swapped in stage whispers
and jokes aired butted on old cronies.

it is just another morning
that slowly rolls in the neighboring cafe
and oft leaving the monotony
of my silent predictable mornings at home
I am drawn to this bustling warehouse of humanity
where I watch varied shades of life
together coalesce like the hues of dawn,
it is a graffiti of tastes, smells, lives
that adds some flavor to
the life of insipid, lonely existence–
a window through which
I watch the drama of life enact itself…

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