Two Poems

by Tamer Mostafa

Pick-up Spot

In my car, I’m parked to the side
of a pizzeria, close to where the workers
take breaks, their white aprons
smeared with marinara sauce.
They smoke cigarettes,
throw them to the wet puddles
that reflect the lampposts light.

I can’t see inside the dining area,
but when a door opens,
I can hear the ambience:
kids playing the pinball machines,
the orders yelled out by the cashier,
bulged men chest bumping and cheering
whatever game is on the big screen.

I have my habits.
Folding and unfolding the dollar bills,
fiddling a dry straw between my fingers.

The keys are in the ignition.
I slump down and adjust the mirrors
waiting to spot the blue reflector light
shooting from the delivery bike.

Funeral at Morris Chapel

A car horn goes off
every now and again,
disturbing the concentration
of the mourners outside
fanning their memoriam pamphlets
to keep cool.

It’s difficult to hear from the speakers,
the reading of Isaiah
cracks into hushes of static.

Patrons from inside come out
to serve bread and wine,
those standings, who couldn’t find seats,
use it as an excuse to move,
relieve the stiffness.

A dry leaf falls next to a child’s head,
distracting her. The parent redirects
his daughter to look up towards the balcony,
towards the person holding a camera
in an attempt to capture
the proof of mourning,
the capacity to feel.

(I was in a workshop once,
heard relationships are based on three fundamentals
that all need to be sustained at the same level.
One level, affinity, when violated,
causes someone to work through progressions of reality
in the opposite direction, starting with grief.)

The family exits the chapel behind the casket,
awaiting the release of the doves,
believing they’ll see the pack
uniformly fly up towards the steeple,
away from the mourning.

Tamer Mostafa is a Stockton, California native whose writing has been influenced by many, but directly affected by the teachings of Joshua McKinney, Alan Williamson, and Joe Wenderoth. He has published over 30 literary works in various journals and magazines such as Confrontation, The Rag, Poets Espresso Review, Stone Highway Review, and Phantom Kangaroo.

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