Sunday, December 4, 2011

This Seat Occupied (Poem)

George Tooker, Lunch*, 1964
Egg Tempera on Gesso Panel
Museum Purchase, Derby Fund
From Philip J. Suzanne Schiller Collection
 of American Social Contemporary Art, 1930-1970

This Seat Occupied

Some would give up
        their daily bread

for a better cup
        of joe, space closer

to the door, where you
        can make for the exit

at the tug of the whistle
        that sounds as bright

as that shiny steel column
        you have to move

around to be able to see
        who's eating, who's not.

Be careful about lifting
        your head too high,

and never, ever let them
        catch you counting

who's using her right hand,
        who's just sipping slow,

easy-like. There's no room
        here for begging to differ,

nobody's going to let his hair
        down or wear a pink shirt

and, hey, lady, get used to it: men
        rule! You don't want to

stand out, make noise when
        your thirty minutes are up,

and the guy you've always wanted
        to meet steps forward

to ask, this seat occupied?

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem is my response to today's photographic prompt (see image above) at Magpie Tales. Join in by writing your own poem or flash fiction, using as inspiration the photo provided, then go here to add your link and read the other participants' contributions.

* * * * *

* Tooker's Lunch subtly calls to mind the lunch-counter sit-ins and race discrimination protests of the 1960s. Note the body language, who stands out, the social commentary implied by the white bread-eating diners.


christopher said...

You have captured the whole thing pretty much.

jen revved said...

Superb, lovely M-- you've done it once more: I love all of it but especially, Be careful about lifting
your head too high,

and never, ever let them
catch you counting

who's using her right hand,
who's just sipping slow,


wonderful take. xj

Kathleen said...

Thank you for this. I so appreciate the poem, the painting, and knowing it's in Columbus! (Will share with sister in Columbus!)

Tess Kincaid said...


nance marie said...

good one.
i was totally lost in the grey fog of 9-5.

Louise Gallagher said...

oh that grey 9-5 fog!

Brilliant take on the prompt. You inspired me too! :)

Thank you.

The Cello Strings said...

love the power of your words here.
beautiful incentive.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Excellent work!

And yes, YAY for Columbus! I teach at CCAD, the arts university which shares a parking lot with the Columbus Museum of Art :).

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

Very good take!..


Helen said...

Very nice ... you brought the image to life.

Brian Miller said...

nice of my fav responses to the picture...

Martin said...

You have re-painted this picture with words, Maureen.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Excellent - superb ending!

Anna :o]