Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Gate B13, Salt Lake City Airport – A Valentine Poem

Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake © 2014 Bo Mackison

Twelve faux wood tables greasy with biscuit crumbs.
Twenty four red metal chairs, unforgiving on the spine.

I choose a corner table, the walls at my side and back, protection with
a panoramic view of other diners, the terminal.
Wide windows frame the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Rachael hustles in her wide-screen TV kitchen, preparing Valentine Specials:
blood orange champagne cocktails, bacon and egg spaghetti.
Tarragon and onions sizzle in the skillet. They glisten.

Diners huddle over their chicken and fries
as low clouds move in, delaying connections.
Colorado, Long Beach, Phoenix. Cancellations. Re-booked flights.
The fast food joint fills with tension from rushing,
and worse, boredom and waiting.

The TV audience explodes with enthusiastic applause.
Rachael exclaims, “Stunning.” She swirls pasta on her fork.
Toasts with her blood orange drink. “Happy life.”

The chicken and biscuit crowd ignore her.
Overweight, balding or baseball capped, ear buds dangling.
A man seated one table over, he taps his foot, wipes his fingers with a paper napkin.
And slides a fancy card from a paper sleeve that advertises Deseret News,
studies the basket of roses on the front, then reads the message.

You have a pen? he asks, shrugging. Red faced.
I mean, can I borrow your pen?

I pass my pen, he nods, studies the card again.
Sucks on the end of my pen, then writes slowly, with deliberation.

He lowers his gaze and returns my pen, motions to the card.
My first one, he says, shrugs again. Valentine, I mean. Never had no cause for one before.

I nod.

For my wife. Our first one. I’m on my way home. It’s a surprise.
He stuffs the card into his duffel, steadies the duffel upon his back.

Thunderstorms have moved in from the north. Rain obliterates the view at Gate B13.
Another delay. We wait.
He stares at the window, clears his throat, checks the time.

I check the departure board. I check the time, too.

Valentine’s Day at the airport.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Fascinating snippet of time framed in an airport diner. The gentleman at the end was such a gift. As much as I try to avoid people on my trips I must admit they are great fodder for poetry. Well done, dear. I enjoy your poetry posts so very much! Hope you catch your plane soon….Happy Valentine’s Day!

  2. Very intriguing description of a travel snap shot. I felt as if I there.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Even I was glad I was there, and I was anxious to get to my destination. Made me remember that bit about the journey…ha!

  3. Wonderful!

  4. Bo Mackison says:

    Thank you. It was a good way to pass a few hours in an airport…

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