The Diner

by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

God’s sitting at the next table over,
amid the noontime rush,
consulting the menu the angelic
waitress has placed before him.
I wonder what he’s ordering,
what celestial meal will be to his liking.
There are so many questions I would like to ask,
but I don’t want to appear rude,
like some overzealous autograph seeker.
I’d like to ask if he made the universe eons ago,
and whether these days he takes an active hand
in the petty and paltry affairs of man.
I’d like to know why over the course of time
he has let so many disasters go unattended,
and more selfishly, what plans does he have for me?
But I will sit here quietly at my own table
and not presume upon his meal.
He has enough on his plate, I would think,
though I do wonder whether he leaves a large tip
as he finishes his coffee, checks his BlackBerry,
and contemplates what miracles
he has to accomplish by evening.

The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years.  Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in a new YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy,  edited by M. Jerry Weiss.

“The Diner” was prompted, Mel says, by “the Job-like questions I still have about God and what He is not doing lately.”

You can read more about his work at his website: www.melglenn.com

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15 Comments

Filed under American Jewry, Jewish writing

15 responses to “The Diner

  1. Irv

    Think this is a genuine insightful & perceptive poem. Reflective of humankind’s desperate yearning for some revealing answers for our most haunting & mysterious questions. The author is a true poet. Let’s hear much more from him.

  2. Chaim

    Honest, introspective and even religious folks will recognize in Mel’s poem the doubts and fears (and humor, hopefully) we see in our own most private places.
    As Dylan reminds us in “Silvio,” we all “wanna find out somethin’ only dead men know.”
    Well done, Mr. Glenn, well done.

  3. Fern Sidman

    Mel Glenn speaks to all of our secret desires to connect with G-d in a most tangible way. His poem is a “heimishe” way of saying “God, we can only imagine what you go through every day” and while we may not have the capabilities of unlocking the secrets of the universe, it sure would be nice to be close to the One who can. Kudos to renowned poet and lyricist, Mel Glenn !!

  4. Jules Trachten

    The poet presents a modern take on the traditional issue of the unknowability of god and man’s role in both enduring and accepting what is given him. The apparent lightness of the moment described underlines the existential angst of the questions.

  5. Mel’s poem certainly takes anthropomorphizing G-d to the limit, but it’s definitely an interesting way to pose the vexing questions of the ages. The answers, though, can be found not on the menu or on the Blackberry, but in the Torah!

  6. Robert

    This poem is full of implications of God known and God unknowable. The closeness one can feel toward God, a closeness that could be metaphorically described as close enough to be almost — almost — God’s dining companion, yet so distant that, again metaphorically, one cannot know what he has ordered, even at the next table. Is this, perhaps, what Isaac Bashevis Singer was sometimes thinking as he looked up from his mushroom and barley soup and stuffed cabbage in the Edison Hotel’s cafe, off of Times Square?

  7. Lucky are those who can still believe in G-d and write such beautiful poems.

  8. Martin Karman

    We are not smart enough to know the ways of God. Mel’s thoughts are from the heart and the mind. His head raises issues and his heart shows restraint. Mel raises our intellectual curiosity, this is to be greatly admired.

  9. Zarle

    I like the imagery and the overall questioning tone of the poem. The language is so simple, yet the thoughts so deep and relevant to our crazy world. I think you showed how accessible God is. How willing He is to be a part of our day to day activities, just like when he walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He’s just that close. And I think God would say something like, “I’m right here, loving you just as I have since long before the dawn of creation. As I told Jeremiah, I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. I have plans to prosper you and to not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. When you call on me, I will be found.”

    That’s what I believe! I think your poem will stir the hearts of many…and that’s a very good thing!

  10. Dr. Charles C. Nash, 320 N. Spring, Nevada, MO 64772

    Yes, Mel Glenn is a wonderfully graspable, sometimes funny, sometimes only warmly human writer–of poetry and prose.

  11. sarsym

    I like that the author didn’t approach God, most people would. They would encroach on His personal time and ask questions and perhaps even ask for salvation. The author is preferring to keep God as a mystery and let him go about his usual daily occurrences. The author is chosing to not know too much.

  12. Angela

    The “petty and paltry” and “enough on his plate” lines are my favorite, Mel. I’ve always been a fan of the God as one of us notion. As usual, I’m a fan of the piece.

  13. Georgeanne Brown

    Mel: You never cease to amaze me. I was a waitress for ten years before I became a teacher. I was still waitressing part time when we met at Lincoln. I was a good waitress, but I worked with many devilish others. I wouldn’t let the cook give me a burger that he dropped on the floor to serve. I would walk back to the kitchen to get a clean utensil if I dropped one. I never threw back a meager tip, or sabotaged anyones’ food or drink.
    After reading your poem, I am so happy that I was such a goody two shoes, because you never know
    WHO I may have been serving!!!!! Mel you are
    so amazing…(unity of effect!)

  14. I loved it, Mel! I agree the most with Robert about the paradox of feeling so close to God and yet so far. I absolutely love the imagery of the diner and the blackberry, the commonness of it, to describe something we normally think of as beyond this world, i.e. God.

  15. Mel, I was there with you all the way. An awesome read. I felt your temptation to tap on his shoulder. What wouldn’t we give to have a cup of coffee with God? To get a little insight, a little comfort, a little “you’re going in the right direction, kid”. A most interesting piece, something I think I will be thinking about for some time. So happy to have found you and your work. And by the way, respecting God’s privacy is something I’m sure you get points for. Hey, we could all use all the help we can get!

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