Before Breakfast

Before Breakfast

prose poem by Jerome Daly


It’s Wednesday, but that doesn’t matter. It’s maybe around 5:30, and I’ve already been up an hour. I walk a block down 7th for coffee from the 7-Eleven. There, some people are gathered at the bus stop, and the ill-lit streetlight casts heavy shadows over their quiet bodies. It’s the end of March. I’m jet lagged, but enjoy walking without a coat. In front of my hotel I light a cigarette, and a man with puffy eyes pushing a shopping cart tells me his store is closing—medical marijuana, kept in an old orange prescription bottle. The tents and sleeping bags under the bridge that were empty when I passed by last night are full, the smell of piss more intense. I take a sip of my coffee, think about giving him a couple of bucks, but I’m not in the mood for what he’s selling—so I politely refuse. A car pulls over and a pink haired girl in a black miniskirt gets out of the passenger side and asks if I have change for a hundred. I’m only halfway through my cigarette. Why do these songbirds stay in the city, why do they feel comfortable? A man emerges from the Mexican restaurant with a hose and starts to spray the sidewalks. The sun is starting to rise; in the shift to shadows, palm trees appear, tall and long. The doorman greets me with a smile. They’re serving continental breakfast—through a window I can see a family grabbing croissants and coffee, their youngest girl in pigtails drinking orange juice at a table. She plays with her doll, happy to be by herself.


Jerome Daly is an alumnus of UConn, a recent graduate of the MFA Program at the University of New Hampshire and 2017 recipient of the Dick Shea Memorial prize in poetry. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gamut, Leveler Poetry, The Chaffey Review, and the Long River Review.

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