David Cooke – A Waldorf Salad

A Waldorf Salad
for Paul

The Waldorf was always Grandad’s hotel –
the place he had helped to build but never
got to stay in. From his room in the Bronx,
did he hop on the El to leave his mark

on Manhattan’s skyline? It’s too late now
to check the details, as I try at least
to plot his absent years back from the splash
of its opening to the Wall Street Crash.

Working out his children’s ages, a gap’s
revealed, and then how old he must have been –
a Volunteer with mouths to feed, his goal
something better than the Irish Free State.

His cause in abeyance, he chanced his luck
abroad, where he found the future rooted
in its bottom line. He returned with cash
and tall stories, a few Yankee phrases.

But what did he make of bootleg whisky,
when he had no chance of a quiet pint;
or the well dressed hoodlums and shoeshine boys
who had never crossed fields or dug a ditch?

Above his head the sky’s a chart, criss-crossed
with girders, on one of which two workers
have started tucking in. A step away,
two waiters hover whose aim it is to please.



David Cooke has published three collections of his work and has been widely published in the UK, Ireland and beyond in journals such as Agenda, Ambit, The Bow Wow Shop, The Cortland Review, The Interpreter’s House, The Irish Press, The London Magazine, Magma, The Morning Star, New Walk,  The North, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Reader, The SHOp and Stand. He has two collections forthcoming: A Murmuration (Two Rivers Press, 2015) and After Hours(Cultured Llama Press 2017).

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