Steve Slemenda, 6/11/2018
Current Occupation: Retired college instructor; volunteer with various community and professional organizations
Former Occupation: Community College Instructor of English and Film Studies
Contact Information: Until now, Steve Slemenda has been an unpublished poet for 50 of his 66 years. He is recently retired from a 25 year career teaching English at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, OR, and is active in poetry organizations and events throughout the Willamette Valley. He is a founder of the annual Silverton Poetry Festival. He writes for pleasure and contemplation and, like most poets, because he seems to have no choice. He is preparing a first chapbook of poems.
I was 19 on a hot summer night at a Greyhound rest stop
in Fresno where I ordered burgers from the old man.
He wore a slanted paper cook's hat and an apron
greasy as the smoke that hung in the air.
His face was sucked into a furrowed toothless frown,
his mouth an open lipless oval like a pitted peach.
The wrinkled skin of his arms hung like loose dry leather.
His right forearm had a tattoo that said USS California 1913.
His hands were long and raw and bony. He was beautiful and grumpy.
I wanted one hamburger. But at the window he scowled at me
and barked “You?” and I blurted out "Two cheeseburgers."
At a jukebox in a corner was a plump blonde beehived woman,
her lips moving to the croon of a country western lament.
Her eyes were fixed in a far off inward stare. She had
big green pastel eyelids and eyelashes like peacock's tails.
Back on the bus moving through the black I-5 night
I opened the bag and ate the burgers. One had cheese.