Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pete and Repete's

 Pete and Repete's

Back when I threw away the North, sick of being
Honeybunch Kaminski, 
and came South to be the sweeter, 
smilin'-for-a-dime grits-totin' Rita,
I wrote some verse,
perverse but not diverse
about your tiger eyes because
the ram was a disguise and
I knew you had the spotted skin
big cats can never change--
and so you showed me.

Down the highway from Nelda's
where I trickled out sweet tea and pepper sauce
(7 different varieties) stiffed
by shriveled 'pokes who found me too remiss
in my amateur bottomless
refills, I heard there was a joint
called Pete and Repete's and wondered if
there the hamburger dills were greener, but ended up
at Girlie's to learn the trick
I wouldn't turn, hustling joe and pancakes
in the dusty starlight night.

I  missed you on the day
you came up plumbing,
found instead my cat-eyed body-man  
deep in the buckwheat thicket
his pulse on mine in temporary candlelight 
he never understood, a repulse of who he was
that couldn't stay. Main squeeze: Tvarscki, cigarillo
and the thousand fifty lies that kept him
shiny as hammered chrome. Those Karo eyes
that still saw only Honey in the wild bunch
gone in the black blizzard,

tho the afterlight remains, pouring a bottomless cup of shadows
repeating down a dead-end red dirt road.

~February 2015

posted for     real toads

Challenge: Get Listed
Grapeling (Michael of it could be that)  provides us with a list of words that reflect each other in spelling but have no meanings in common, and asks us to use at least two of them or invent a few--I have tried to do both, though I have strayed a bit from the pathway in this, my autobiographical indulgence and not very serious cautionary tale of the Lovely Rita, non-Meter Maid.

optional musical acompaniment

Process Notes(and/or Spoilers): I worked at several diners including the ones named(except for the famed "Pete and Repete's Restaurant" in Purcell) when I first came to Oklahoma in the seventies.  From what I can find out on google, they all seem to be defunct. I couldn't stand being constantly hit on under my own name, and stole and wore the name tag Rita, left behind by a less stoic ex-waitress, thus assuming my first pre-Hedgewitchian alias. (And yes, the slogan I wore in a strategic spot on my uniform apron said : 'They're stacked better.'  ) My current husband's company did all the plumbing work for the Girlie chain, but we never met until much later, under very different circumstances. But that's another tale.

'poke is short for 'cowpoke' and for those who haven't known the joys of waiting table, 'stiffed' refers to not receiving a tip.

"Black blizzard" is a 30's term for the worst dust storms of that era.

The character Honeybunch Kaminski, by counterculture cartoonist R. Crumb, was one with whom I strongly identified at the time.

Images: courtesy google image search Cup of Joe source
Girlie's source
No copyright infringement intended--will remove at request of copyright holder.


  1. hahaha i love it...some awesome turns of phrase in this...and some feels like you took a little nod from Danny's and made it your own....its smooth...R Crumb...what an intriguing artist...did a book with Buk too, that i read...remis in your amateur gave me a few chuckles along the way...its the little tricks like pulse and repulse that are so deft in this....smiles.

  2. Love the way the red dust rises, for me, on the closing road image, Hedge...stark and poignant.

  3. Ha. A lot of fun here (for the reader that is, not perhaps for the experience.) Yes, I understood cowpokes, but couldn't help thinking of the meaning used most frequently in certain novels--I'm thinking somehow of Lonesome Dove, but also (maybe) Carl Hiassen--(actually I have a strong sense of a novel that I can't quite come up with.) I especially love the last two stanzas--the Karo mistaking for honey, the buckwheat thicket, the pouring out of shadows and red dirt road--but it is all quite wonderful, jammed full of sardonic cleverness--k. (Getting older--any diner that's called repete's seems quite horrible. I am thinking acid reflux here.) k.

    1. Good eye on the Lonesome Dove reference, k, and of course, stiffed plays into that as well. I'm sure the menu at any of those places would cause a sane stomach to revolt in acid reflux, though I was young enough at the time to enjoy the jalepeno omelets and microwaved, greasy chili. The pancakes, i suppose, were fairly innocuous, even if slathered in twenty different kinds of fruity syrups. Thanks for reading and hope to read one from you on this one.

    2. ps - your tags are wonderful. I appreciate the difficult aspects of all this--I was a waitress in various cocktail bars (always not very popular ones) in NYC. But that time outwest --at least back then when I just traveled by car--seems to me to have had a wonderful bright light rather like butter melting on a pancake, that glimmers here in your poem. k.

    3. Yes, I think youth and its parade of bizarre events always look brighter in the rear view mirror(like the country song about Lubbock) Thanks, k.

    4. Have a good break! Hope I haven't added too much to commenting tangles. (Sorry to see E-location go in this regard.) Don't reply, or no need to! Take care! k.

    5. No, it's not you, k. I just need to step back.Thanks for all your input and support.

    6. Whew. It gets a bit much. k.

  4. I get more "Rocky Raccoon" than "Lovely Rita," that balladic feel in the reel of the tape: history as misery, measured out in greasy spoons. Honeybunch hovered over my prepubescent fantasies glossed from the pages of the Chicago Seed: A voluptuous angel who followed me to my South when our family split up and my mother took me and the sibs to Winter Haven, FL. This Yank identifies with the difficulties suiting up Down There--the roles are a stretch no matter how much we want to fit in. All that aside, this was such a fun effort to read, pre-Hedgewitchean in its anima (and feral poetic), all the honey yet to ferment. Boy I bet those pokes relished their stacks. -- Such a Route 66-ish palate of chrome and tumbleweeds here. If such an Oklahoma could exist I'd be there, but I suspect this one is adjacent to the Kansas of Oz. Who resist "bottomless refills" from a pre-widdershins flapjack hopper who "poured out sweat tea and pepper sauce." Loved it!

    1. I like to think I was one of the inspirations for Honeybunch(knew Crumb very briefly as a jailbait hippie girl--he drew a semi-pornographic mural on the turquoise wall of my room in my mother's apartment) but she is an amalgam of the Zeitgeist, mostly. Long time since I thought of the Seed--thanks for the memory. The pokes were ancient duffers, I'm afraid, wizened old men who were extremely crabby about not getting their 32nd cup of coffee pronto, and picky about which kind of Louisiana hot sauce suited their over-fried eggs. Still, I was young enough for it all to be an adventure. Afa the 'sweat tea' yes I poured out a lot of that, too. ;_) Thanks for the read, B.

  5. Oh! That was some good reading. Read it twice to enjoy the free rhythm and frankness of the verse. A story woven in snippets of experiences and images is wonderful and how you have made the use of prompt is commendable. :-)

  6. Woohooo! That was a hot rod ride down memory lane! Of course, you are the witch queen of word play, and you certainly have not disappointed - aside from the clever word pairs, the repetition of sound groups greats an amazing sonorous quality to the whole. Wonderful work.

    1. Thanks so much, Kerry. I had a lot of fun with this, and I'm rather psyched to think I thought up the trickle & trick pair all by myself. ;_)

  7. It just shows that those of us who have lived a boring corporate life have so much less of tales to tell.. loved the way the phrases turned, and as usual I'm awestruck how you can get your words flowing together.. Amazing that you actually worked at a place that was a perfect fit for the prompt...

    1. Thanks Bjorn. Didn't actualy work at P&R's--just thought about it. They supposedly had a fabulous onion burger. ;_)

  8. "...but ended up
    at Girlie's to learn the trick
    I wouldn't turn, hustling joe and pancakes
    in the dusty starlight night."

    Those lines made me giggle. And the process note made me roar. I bet there were many comments about the nametag and its slogan. ;-)

  9. rollicking, rocking, time-traveling, smoking roller-skate into memory, Hedge, with a dead-serious close, with the turn at 'karo eyes'. (I had the same reaction as K wrt Lonesome Dove (ha!))

    i'm stoked (to coin a Cali phrase) that this prompt tickled your fancy, and to get a glimpse into Rita. And Crumb painted a room in your mom's house? Whoa. I suspect you've - Rita has - got a tale or two to tell ~

  10. You cast a dizzy dance of clever turns and laughs. I loved every line, but your ending with the Karo eyes haunts me-in a good way~

  11. Oh, God, Honeybunch Kaminski! Yes, I remember the R. Crumb comics. Oh, the Fat Freddy's Cat of it all... This is too great. I did not complete that challenge, as it made me a bit dizzy just thinking about it, but you did, redid, outdid, yet never overdid it here. Loved the headlong eyes-closed overdrive of it, simply delicious tale.

    I noticed Grapeling's comment. On a wall of the house? What a fab upbringing. No wonder you turned out so fab! Amy

  12. PS could not comment as Sharp Little Pencil because WordPress and Blogger are apparently at odds once more... bummer.

  13. Well, I was captivated. I've read and loved a few books on the dustbowl and I love Lonesome Dove years ago and the movie. This really played to those images for me… and seems you've lived it a bit in your youth (although you were not young in the 30's, I know that)

  14. The line about the hamburger dills had me laughing, and thinking this poem was going to be a certain way--especially since I always cheat and read your process notes and labels before the poem--but your final stanza and couplet are one of the finest poetic descriptions of an individual that I've read. It's really sharp, excellent stuff.

    As someone who has had her name legally changed, I can totally identify with the name tag gambit and all that it implies. The first half of this poem really gives a feel of the harried, hit-on, hell for Tuesday daily survival of a waitress in a certain place and time.

  15. Thank you, Hedge, for coloring 'fog' for us. Very aptly described in "as if winter had never been."
    You can run, but I'm glad you aren't hiding completely, 55's are a fun challenge, you always write then so nicely.
    Enjoy your sabbatical.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats