Small, crowded delicatessens
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.
Between Marlboro, Camel men
Sitting at the counter
In baseball caps turned around.
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.