5:30 in the morning
beside myself
belly twisting
nothing seeming right

i revert to my childhood

the sure morning routine
of my stepfather

turn on the radio atop the refrigerator
700 WLW no other station will do

make a pot of coffee

whisk the batter in a yellow plastic bowl
and fry pancakes

as aunt jemima stands by the stove
with a syrupy look in her eyes

and i think he does not know

how many times

this ritual saved my life