Day and night the neon buzzes.
The windows are dark
with decades of smoke always in the air.
An anachronism in the city,
wood furnaces in the kitchen,
and old men in grimy T-shirts serving at the counter,
A place your mother warned you about as a child.
with its smokey blues playing in the corner
and bourbon on the menu next to the fries.
painted women and toughs in the booths,
plates of pulled pork and beans,
steeped in brown sugar on the plates in front of them.
There is a protocol here.
No one looks at you.
Everyone looks at you,
sensing perhaps, that stranger that you are,
you somehow belong in this place of anonymity
that you are content to be here
and invisible, content
to let the music and the smoke swallow you,
hiding less from the outside world,
than from yourself.
About this poem
Brother Jimmy’s is a barbeque place right outside Penn Station in New York. I have never been there. But I take pictures of it every time I am there.
I have never been there because I have a film noir kind of imagination and from the outside, it looks like something out of a Damon Runyon short story. I would hate to be disappointed.