Summer 2016 — THE POTOMAC

A Bowl of Soup at the Friendly Inn

Richard K. Olson

That's him, old man Kenefick at his usual spot
under the yellowing photo of JFK,
wearing the faded denim, the flannel shirt,
and the now defunct union members cap.
—There isn't much more left
of all those years at the Pratt & Letchworth Foundry...
Over in the corner, four men are playing Pinochle,
their voices rising and falling
as they play their cards.

The heavyset waitress they call Kathleen
brings over his steaming bowl of Beef Barley Soup,
a pack of crackers, another shot–and–a–beer.
"What a day it is," she says, "snow this morning,
and now this rain. A bowl of soup will warm you up,
but be careful dear, it's hot."
"Rain or snow," the old man says,
"it's still a great day for the Irish."

They both look at the screen up on the wall,
the volume getting louder as the men,
all six of them in suits and ties, supposedly debating,
but sounding more and more like angry boys,
like the men sitting at the card table,
some small–time neighborhood thugs,
who have nothing else to do, but trade insults,
swear at each other, while all of them
looking like who done it,
and got away with it.

"Politics. It's enough to drive ya crazy.
If my mother were only here, God rest her soul,"
Kathleen says as she crosses herself,
"she'd tell them all to quiet down,
and save their breath to cool their soup."
Which makes the old man smile,
as he removes his cap and says a silent prayer.
Not only for himself but for his country.
His blue eyes going from his soup to the screen,
to the men playing cards, to looking out the window
and watching the falling rain
run down the glass on empty South Park Avenue.
As one of the men suddenly yells out, "trump,"
throwing down the Ace of Diamonds,
and reaches over to pull the jackpot towards him.


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