You can cry quite long in a diner
without much interruption, assuming
the diner is only moderately populated,
the décor is outdated and immaculate,
and you are capable of the type of crying
during which tears do not disrupt your posture.
You must hold inside a muscular sorrow
and a sense of endurance for torture
bequeathed to you by your shattered mother,
or given to you by years of bleak lovers, ruthless
colleagues, and duplicitous politicians.
The diner’s specialty must be a side plate
of quartered potatoes seasoned and fried
in a manner that proves the cook’s grasp
on mortality’s childless brilliance.
Weeping is not possible in this scenario,
unless you can invent, sitting there
in an upholstered booth with full visibility,
a revolutionary weeping that is soundless
and somehow calls all the ghosts of the universe
to sing their remarkable, dark-mouthed songs.
Marcus Jackson’s second book of poems, entitled Pardon My Heart, was released by Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly books in 2018. His poetry has appeared in such publications as The American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, and The New Yorker. He lives with his wife and child in Columbus, Ohio, and he teaches in the MFA programs at Ohio State and Queens University of Charlotte.