The Late-Night Café

Lily Grodzins, Contributing Writer

Why do we come here,

to the Late-Night Café?

Why don’t we stay home and indulge in the comfort of a cramped apartment, 

elevated high and mighty above the sleepless sort who roam below?

“Open to Midnight, Every Midnight”

the neon sign flickers through the foggy, four-pane windows.

(You can only read it from the inside. It is the original design of da Vinci and the sign is in mirror writing.)

Understand, those cool blue letters likened to an artificial moon are the only thing postmodern about this place, 

and even they are vintage at best.

Those lights spell lies though— 

it is not “Open to Midnight, Every Midnight.”

With no discernable pattern, us patrons of the Late-Night Café will be shut out at 11:45 or left to linger ’til dawn’s rosy fingers join us at our table. 


And other lies reside here too, like the stairway winding ’round the back that is so high it is obscured by the brim of men’s eyes and a gentle dusting of clouds.

(It is rumored that Marco Polo once made it to the top, but the sight that awaited him was so terrible he dared not ever speak of what he found. Rumor has it that his tongue was tied by babble.)

As for us customers, there is a single, undiminishable cup of bitter coffee on every table and nothing more. So we crack the spines of our books or our backs and try and get to work.

But as I listen to the old men and exhausted students complain for the fourteenth time in a fortnight about their underexposed existences, I wonder:

Why do I come to the Late Night Café at all?

What does the place have laced in her ruined walls?

And I come here knowing nonetheless that I never get done what I intend to do.

But the black wind whistles through the window untouched,

it is how it always has been.