After customers are all gone home,
after floors are mopped and silver
rolled and all the tips cashed in,
after a brutal day of cooking and serving
and complaining, we all go out to eat,
caravanning into the midnight stars,
hands trailing out open windows,
two miles out of town to the only place open with food,
troop in with our sweat-soaked bills,
tired feet, catsup-stained aprons, and crabby attitudes
and fill the red vinyl booths (except for the one
reserved for Elvis) and serape-topped tables, order
enchiladas, tacos, burritos and beer, Julie’s
special of the day, piñatas swinging from the ceiling
and sombreros glazing the walls bored with
our complaints about stiff customers and split tickets,
laughter shaking the air like maracas,
while outside, across the road, whitetail deer
graze in the moonlight on wild grasses and acorns,
bedded down cows toss up their last meals
and swallow again, while hound-dog coyotes
serenade a blue suede moon.
Author’s Notes: “Los Compadres” is one of my favorite poems because of all the good memories it evokes for me. When Mike and I owned the Auslander, we worked so hard on Saturdays, all the time looking forward to the end of the day when we could go out to another family-owned restaurant, Los Compadres, owned by Robert and Julie Arizola, and relax and eat food we didn’t have to cook ourselves. Julie was always there with a smile, even a tired one, and a sympathetic ear to all our working complaints. Robert and Julie are both sorely missed in our community.
This poem has done well. It was chosen as a First Place winner in the Arizona Authors’ Association Annual International Literary Contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Earlier this year, it won First Place awards from Poetry Society of Oklahoma and San Antonio Writers Guild. Poetry judge Cynthia Edlow called the poem “extraordinary and unforgettable; a deeply poignant homage to fellowship and labor. It is a gem.”
“Los Compadres” is currently featured in Arizona Literary Magazine 2018.
Sally's first publication for children is "Where's My Hug?" a lift-the-flap board book published by WorthyKids/Ideals. Buy it for a child you love.