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Café Santa Ana Without Rick

By David Dunham


I still scan the tables, expecting to spot him,

Alone and deep in a book.


I would join him, or sometimes he me,

And we would take on one of two worlds,

The state of things “out there,”

Or the more dangerous world within ourselves.


We would trade fragments of our lives

That we thought might interest the other.


When my food arrived, Rick would disappear

Somewhere for a while.

When he returned, he would say

That he hadn’t wanted to interrupt my meal.

Once, he confessed that he really didn’t like

The disorder on a table during a meal,

As he stacked my empty plates and moved them

To one side.


We respected each other’s like views,

And just as much, I felt, our differences.


I always took away with me at least one new image

Or perception, intriguing enough to chew on,

Now and then,

Until our next chance encounter.


He remembered some things I had said too.


When I enter Café Santa Ana, I still scan the tables,

Looking for Rick.


And then I feel the ache.


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