Monday, October 31, 2011

The Metro Diner

by G. Jack Urso

"Metro Diners" were ubiquitous throughout mid-century, post-war America.

This image resembles the original look of the Metro Diner in Albany, NY

(Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York).

say buddy, got the time?

nowhere to go?

it’s always half past midnight

down at the Metro


Pop rolls in ‘round about eleven

the clientele he knows quite well

a few sinners from heaven

a few saints from hell


black marble countertops

under an art deco clock

if you ever get lost

it’s just down the block


jukebox ain’t had nothing new

since the old man bought the place

back in ‘52


the air is always thick

with lucky strikes, camels

and marlboros


the bets are easy to make

cause the cops are on the take

pimps, prostitutes, and railroad porters

all take a break and place their orders


hamburgers sizzle on the grill

the boys work the counter

fran has your bill


they got decaf

or would you like

a regular cup of joe

black and white?


. . . there you go . . .
Fran and Joe (Pop) Sr. with two unidentified patrons, circa 1959.
Notice the juke box and black marble countertop.

Albany Times-Union
Date: Tuesday, September 9, 1986
Grace O'Connor Staff writer
Section: LOCAL, Page: B4

"Pop" Urso at the Metro Diner, circa 1960.
The Metro Diner, a landmark on Broadway in Albany for more than 40 years, has vanished in a cloud of demolition dust. . . . it was moved to 527 Broadway "from someplace downstate in the 1940s. It was about 5 years old then . . . and that's like brand new for a diner. . . In 1952 when Joe Urso became owner, the diner "was fantastic. . . . You never saw anything like it." With seating for 42 at the marble-topped counter and in the booths, "it was one of the largest businesses per seating capacity in the city."

The clientele was mixed. . . . "We also had the pimps and the prostitutes, because that was their area between Green Street and Broadway at the time." Coffee was a dime then. ". . . hamsteak, eggs and homefries cost $1.10."

Things began to change in the mid-1970s. Businesses closed or moved out of downtown Albany. The diner no longer needed to stay open all night. The old juke box with its spinning 45s was taken out.

"The building was so deteriorated, it was a real hazard. . . . It was more appropriate to remove the structure since it could not be utilized as a diner because it had been completely vandalized, gutted."

The Metro Diner, circa 1985. The aluminum sliding long gone.
A shadow of its former self.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Grey Man

by G. Jack Urso

i live in a grey house

in a grey city

with grey people

who really aren't there

i go to a grey church

with a grey faith

and a grey god

to match my socks

everyday i go to the grey tower

and i work with grey people

i look outside translucent windows

and i see grey skies

i go home to my grey wife

and my grey kids

they sleep grey sleep

and we make grey love

late in the grey night i always wake

and i rub the grey slumber from my eyes

my grey eyes which chance to see

colors dance on my black heart

"The Grey Man." Inmate art by Michael Nieves, 1994.
Author's collection.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011


by G. Jack Urso

they run, red eyes into the night

trailing a path into infinite space

crimson and green, yellow and white

pilgrims seeking artificial light

the engine runs hot, the tank is low

can’t get a station on the radio

i can take the next exit and pay the toll

or stay on the road and see how it goes

my tires spin and quickly rotate

bearing a life of burden and weight

44 miles of concrete and steel

i am north on the interstate

my motor is made with hands of flesh

i get gassed and hope for the best

radio static crackles like a siren’s cry

i slip into gear and hurry to die

red eyes drive alone into heaven

i am north on I-87

A spoken word multimedia interpretation of my poem Interstate-87.

There is no destination. There is only the ride.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Suerat's Circus

by G. Jack Urso

she falls through 

                the air 

atop a white mare
Georges Suerat, "The Circus" (1891).
                face to the light
in wonderful delight
                the manner in part
concerning the dark
                nature of which
i surely know not

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wolf 359

by G. Jack Urso

it's one of those stars

            that burns quite far

and showers the earth

            in a silent rain

dominator sun, elemental czar

            penetrating planet, flesh, and brain

sets light to flight over my head

in ultra-violet and infra-red

dark as i am

            you're quite like me

Wolf 359
born and then damned

            to entropy

but wherever i am

            there you will be

as deep as i dream

            and as far as i see

lost stars and horizons lead wayward souls

to slumber into the silence of black holes

while i navigate my time

            lost in a rhyme

a child of the star

            Wolf 359

Wolf 359 is the orange star in the center

“Wolf 359 is a red dwarf that is located in the constellation Leo, near the ecliptic. At a distance of approximately 7.8 light years from the Earth, it has an apparent magnitude of 13.5 and can only be seen with a large telescope. Wolf 359 is one of the nearest stars to the Solar System; only the Alpha Centauri system (including Proxima Centauri), Barnard's Star, Luhman 16, and WISE 0855–0714 are known to be closer. Its proximity to Earth has led to its mention in several works of fiction (Wikipedia).”

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