he stood in front of me as we waited in line.
taped to the back of his white t-shirt was
a slip of paper, also white, on which
was hand printed in faint letters:
out of order.
who hasn’t felt out of order from time to time?
he was a thin rail of a young man
with eyes hidden behind ray-bans,
while about his neck floated streams
of white surgical gauze giving him the allure
of a wounded French aviator (à mon avis, at least).
his purpose there, however, was prosaic enough:
he wanted a cup of ice water, which made perfect sense
on this hellishly hot day in la la land.
another man sitting nearby, not understanding,
said to him, yo, someone has taped a sign on your back,
but the young man said nothing in reply.
instead, after getting his drink, he moved on
to the side counter, where he dumped out half
the ice water and filled the cup with cream
all the way to the brim.
Perhaps only then did he have the proper mixture,
the magic elixir, to put the self back in order.
and yet once out the door, rather than continue
on his way, he stopped and turned to face
the glass door as it slowly closed in front of him.
how this added to his starbucks experience
i’ll never know.