Monk In The Greasy Spoon


Poetry by Mark Taksa  φ  Art by Sheri Bredeson


Fried fat fumes in the wail of the jukebox.

I hunch behind a news story, a shield

against my craving for ketchup. In the report, fraudsters

wear sunglasses at night and hover with rocks

over a monk they shoved into snow.

The monk refuses to say a rock is a weapon,

calls it the cornerstone of a temple.


They knife his arm. He refuses to see

a starved bush as a bush, sees a garden of meditation.

They knife the other arm. He refuses to observe

a cut in the clouds as a cut. They slice a leg. He refuses to view

a bomb crater as anything but a pit the temple fills.


They cut his last limb. Short and hard,

he rolls himself up on his oozing stumps,

goes pale, and, yielding into silence, chants

an observant person does not complain.


Tomato oozes in a bottle I squeeze

over oily potatoes the waitress slammed on the counter.

Like a blues singer freeing a stuck note, I complain

she broke her promise of quick dessert.


She gives me an éclair saved for herself.

In the waitress’s voice, I hear notes fading

from the monk’s chant. My foot melts a snow blanket

in front of the monk’s temple. My leg hooks

the waitress and locks her into my imagination.

Pain does not fit in our encirclement.

I tilt my baseball cap in an unmonkish manner

and stand to count a happy man’s tip.


Sawed Short

I sink softy into a bed that is an ocean

allowing no drowning. Steady is her touch

guiding my shoulder away from a door for strangers

into which, on any street in any city, I fall.


In that hungry hall behind that door, every kid

steals his friend’s food, and a wise child’s elbows

guard his plate. We shout at each other,

as if the front legs of our chairs


have been sawed short and, fighting falling,

we notice neither our curses nor the taste

of moldy gravy over mean strings

of sour meat. All we can do is bellow.

Break Away
Break Away


Mark Taksa poems have appeared in Penumbra, Texas Review Rockhurst Review, Hubbub, River Styx, Hiram Poetry Review, Greensboro Review, Poetry East, Green Mountains Review, Cimarron Review, andin other publications.

Mark Taksa poems have been finalists in both the 1997 and the 1998 Greg Grummer Award contests and have appeared in Phoebe. The Chester H. Jones Foundation selected my work for a commendation award in 1994, and included it in the winners anthology.

Sheri Bredeson Art :

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