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I worked at Life Cafe for six years in the 80’s. A Broadway musical and later a film were produced that had the cafe at the center of the story. Watching your workplace turned into a Broadway musical is something everyone should try and imagine. Some of the regulars didn’t make it into the story.

Remembering Sleaze

Sleaze held court
over a bottomless
cup of coffee
A motley flow of followers
hanging on his every word
He described all the wars
he had ever been in
and he had been in them all
because Sleaze was always at war
And now he was a pain in the ass
for endless hours at Life Cafe
on Avenue B

I don’t take a spoon in my coffee

I don’t keep track of what you take and don’t take

Fast friends forever
He put the chairs up on the tables
at the end of my shift

Who’s the long-legged white girl?

That’s no white girl. That’s Montana

Good to be friends with the King

Sleaze died, his followers dispersed
the bottomless cup of coffee ended for everyone
A memorial was held
where he used to hold court
and the owner called it the end of an era

promoted in death
from nuisance to the end of an era

Hot Chocolate Man

The square park had trees
but was famous for its tracks

Bathrooms for customers only

So he ordered a hot chocolate every time
and took the key
Hot chocolate with an H chaser made it happen
A freight train in the veins
ran into his heart without making a sound

It was memorable and awkward
The door wouldn’t open in the middle of a shift
but there’s more than one bathroom
in the cafe across from the park
The body was removed after closing hours
and graffiti appeared on the wall
Try one of our killer hot chocolates

Customers emerge asking
Are your hot chocolates really that good?
And all the waiters say

The Eye That Sees

At the end of the bar
wide open hideous no motion
One glass eye that stays the same
with every drink
and draws you in
like a tv set that does not blink
Bitter drunken glee
by the eye that sees

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