Homage to H & the Speedway Diner

By Bernadette Mayer b. 1945 Bernadette Mayer
It’s alot like a cave full of pictures
& black & white checked flags
you may overdose on caffeine
it’s the closest restaurant to our house
maybe five miles, it’s very cheap
you can go there when you have almost no money
they let you use the telephone
i can get steak tartare there for $2.25
but i’ve never called it that
just raw hamburger with an egg yolk,
pickle relish & garlic powder plus
the celtic salt i bring along
the owner, h (after whom the h-burger is named)
is loquacious, surprising, has a santa claus belly & wears suspenders
there’s ashtrays everywhere & a great old pinball machine
it’s like east nassau but it’s in west lebanon i think
you can always talk about the weather & hunting
the clientele is open-minded as are the waitress & waiter
who kneels when he takes your order
during hunting season it opens at 4:30 a.m.
it’s for sale but that’s not quite serious
h’s wife thinks he spends too much time there (which he does)
so she started calling him by their dog’s name, peaches
h is a big fan of northern exposure, oh & i
forgot to mention the biscuits & sausage gravy
which are genuine, greyish & great. recently
h got a smoker & this year we’ll go to the new year’s
eve party & eat stuffed shrimp and/or lobster

"Homage to H & the Speedway Diner" by Bernadette Mayer, from Scarlet Tanager, copyright © 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1995 by Bernadette Mayer. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: Scarlet Tanager (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2005)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Bernadette Mayer b. 1945

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Friends & Enemies, Activities, Relationships, Eating & Drinking

Poetic Terms Ode, Free Verse

 Bernadette  Mayer


An avant-garde writer associated with the New York School of poets, Bernadette Mayer was born in Brooklyn, New York, and has spent most of her life in New York City. Her collections of poetry include Midwinter Day (1982, 1999), A Bernadette Mayer Reader (1992), The Desire of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), Another Smashed Pinecone (1998), and Poetry State Forest (2008). Known for her innovative use of language, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Friends & Enemies, Activities, Relationships, Eating & Drinking

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Ode, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.