Small, crowded delicatessensslymans

Commonly known as delis

With uncommon smells of heaven

Emanating from the front door.

Sounds of serious determination

As slicers carve corned beef


Low fat turkey breast

With mayo or mustard

On rye (with seeds or without)

Or pumpernickel as the mood strikes.

Animated discussions

Between Marlboro, Camel men

Sitting at the counter

In baseball caps turned around.

Sour pickles…

Sauerkraut with Russian Dressing.

Hot containers filled with hotter oil

Sizzle raw potatoes

Cut into crinkled sticks

To be dipped later

In ketchup or blue cheese

With stains still evident

hours later on blouse or tie.

What a place that reverberates

The sounds and smells of Cleveland

At noon on Thursday in February

A respite from nearby high rises

Filled with people staring at computer screens

Eating peanut putter and jelly sandwiches

On white bread

Out of anonymous plastic containers

Removed from brown paper bags

With tasteless baked chips.

Where else could you find such richness

Of spirit and soul and still hear

‘Honey’ ‘Darlin’ ‘Beautiful’ ‘Babe’

In one small step behind a single door

At Thirty-first Street and St. Clair.