I mean you could tell from the outside
that the buffet joint near the Home Depot
& the party store that smells the worst burnt
worthless bowl of ass weed wasn’t going to be
sterling, but I had $15 & was writing a novel
on funemployment so in the afternoon glare
of before-times January I stepped inside
the desolation of New Grand Buffet &
found a corner seat. they gave me chemicals
in a forty-ounce plastic bucket & gestured
to scalding bone china plates beside vats
& trays of reds & yellows & greens (the smells
not fit to print in this poem). I took three bites of
“crab puff with mayonnaise” & watched
a cockroach break for freedom when
the bathroom door opened. my meal now
concluded I sat & waited forty minutes for a check
(again, virtually empty restaurant) &
read reviews by other brave Queens souls,
included here for posterity:
the food was so wack.
the audacity to demand tip.
actively flooding from a storm as I eat.
i was about to eat the chicken
&i saw this roach
on top of the chicken.
the water has little
white stuff floating in it.
AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
STARVING IS BETTER.
Michael McSweeney is a writer and editor who lives in Brooklyn with his partner and cat. He is the author of Oven Red Evenings, a poetry collection published in 2016, and his works have recently appeared in Perhappened Mag and Expat Lit.