Breakfast at the Brass Compass
Heartsounds Press, Front Porch Editions 2009
Have you ever thought of yourself as a "regular" in a cafe or diner? Are you a little bit like Norm from Cheers? This is something entirely familiar to me, since I waited table at Lottie's Restaurant in York Village, Maine. I was the same folks every day, heard them laughing and bickering over one of Lottie's homemade pies or a BLT. I knew exactly when certain men would show up, sit together at a booth or a back table.I heard them discuss what was happening in town, in the world. Their candor was refreshing and insightful. I probably heard more than a 15 year old girl needed to hear. But what has lingered is not the topics. It is the idea that everyone has a someplace.
The someplace of this collection is a small cafe in downtown Rockland, Maine. I spent countless mornings there, gathering in the flavors and conversations of this little seaside city and its people, many of whom fit the regulars description. A huge part of any hometown eatery is the serving staff. The girls at the Brass Compass and their customers made my work as a poet easy. As a chronicler of flavor (food and otherwise) I had a nearly limitless menu of ideas and incidents.
The book takes readers on a morning pilgrimage to this little city's inner personality. Grab a cup of coffee and order something. Settle in with these poems.
Carol Willette Bachofner's poems are sacred poetry that exults in the senses. Fine-etched, delicate diction combines with passionate natural imagery to offer us lovely work that, poem after poem, affirms life, whether the subject is an Andrew Wyeth painting, love, sleep, the body of a bird, a shadow, a statue of Edna St Vincent Millay, or a tavern menu with all its luscious detail.
— Jennifer MacPherson, A Rosary of Bones
Sample poem from the book: (p.8)
Regulars don’t even read it:
Sailor’s Breakfast is two of everything,
eggs [how do ya want ‘em, deah?]
sausage links,french toast, thick
slices of Lynn’s homemade white,
bacon crisp as a fall afternoon.
Pumpkin ginger pancakes
with local syrup, boiled this spring
in the sugar house just down the road,
sweet blueberry muffins (not the cultivated
kind of berry from the grocery store), classic
eggs benedict, or Matinicus with crab cake.
Lobster roll or lobster club, a specialty
of the house, whoopie pies
for dessert or to take along
for tomorrow’s picnic. Brimmed cups
of lobster stew or clam chowda,
butter floating on the surface like sunshine.
Eat outside or in, everything depends on weather,
which is coming in or going out
in the harbor. Traffic rolls down Main Street,
missing jaywalkers by inches. Traffic cops mark
the two-hour limit with chalk. Think where
you have to go when your meal is done. Wipe your chin.
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