University Drive-Thru

by Ashton Kamburoff

 

Hell is a lonely place,
that much
is proven.
What they don't
tell yah though
is hell has a
lingerin'
stink
like diesel
that refuses to
vacate your
head cavity.
Hell is
the eight hour shift
with a pebble
at large in
your shoe.
Hell resembles
being broke
twenty seven minutes
after Tuesday's
payday.
Hell
most certainly is the
sedan crammed
with blondes
you will never touch
purchasin' liquor
you could never
afford.
Hell
comes in waves,
a repetition of
automobiles
cycling their way through
double overhead doors
& you
caught in the middle,
a workin' class
beacon
of no
hope
no chance
memorizin' drink orders
every
blue eyed
mother's son
shouts out
while craving
to shut the
entrance and exit
simultaneously,
leaving yourself locked
inside
with someone else’s salary
beneath your fingers.
Hell
is agreeing to deal
addictions,
handing people
desired vices
through a
driver-side window
destroying minds
for a stitch above
minimum wage.
The minutes
knocked off your life
add up in my
tip jar,
the cigarettes
you toss
explode
onto cold concrete
& are forgotten about
like burnt out
bottle rockets
on July 5th.
Washed up prom queens
furnishing
false
identification
& bad
attitudes
purchase
brain damage
in flashy 24 ounce cans,
lips quivering
as they attempt
enunciation
of the newest slang,
void of
eye contact
&
proper
ordering
procedure.
Hell fills up fast too,
hell no
we don't discriminate
against
piss poor Portage county
lounge-abouts,
winos
whose bottle hit

barter with
expired
PARTA passes
for one more
cheap cigar.
Unshaven.
Content.
Masters of nothing.
They panhandle
a Ford
in desperate need
of an oil
change for a
buck,
chipped cuticles
pave the way
to calloused
palms
revealing
precious silver
& wadded up
Washingtons
praying
they have
enough
as they rattle off
their good
reasons
for being
an alcoholic
waiting on
one more
northeast Ohio
winter
to punch their
ticket
to bone
orchards
that house
tibias
and
fibulas
of previously free
deities.
Hell
is harmonies
of rusted out
Oldsmobiles
bottoming out
on apron pavement
potholes
navigating
beat
down chariots
around tight turns
waiting in lines
with other
local losers
whose only intention
is hitting rock bottom
for the
second time
this week.
Hell
is hangin' on
for drivers to
discover
exact change,
digging through
corn syrup drenched
cup holders,
forking over
strands of hair
stuck to seventeen pennies
in exchange
for a
black-out kit
bagged
in plastic.
I stand here
watching
a stream of neon
beam
headlights
add color
to mellow stained
cinder block
walls.
I know
the painful
familiarity
of tight faces,
boxed wine aficionados
debating lengthy orders,
cash flying
from front seat
to back,
the pattern of banter,
the ball-parked totals
& the lack of
introductions,
no names
please.
Here's your card.
Sign,
act cool,
accelerate
& scram
towards Water Street
where
across the way
the same
empty eyed
vagrants
hasslin' honor students
for spare change
bathe
after hours
at the University Inn's
swimming pool.
You can see them,
perhaps the only
free gods left in town,
their mouths,
makeshift water fountains
spoutin' chlorinated
streams
through blistered lips
striking a pose
in the shallow
end &
doin' quite well
for themselves
in the dyin' days
of the
summer months.