A Political Convention Reporter’s Working Breakfast at the CNN Grill

In Craft, Featured, Poetry by

A selection from our “State of the Nation” call for submissions.
By Josette Torres

An illustration of a man in grayscale, with a fork up to his mouth and a

Illustration by Justin Lau.

Have you eaten yet? someone says as I approach,
notebook in hand. The omelettes are great, another
concurs. The diner teems with uniformed chaos:

bright smiles in tight aprons, bleary truthtellers
slumped over coffee. He pushes the Western
special and his network in competing sentences.

Best idea we’ve had all year, he chews between
buttermilk biscuit bites. We’re bringing the democratic
process out of the skyboxes and to the people.

Everyone loves breakfast! I start my day with black
coffee and cigarettes, but only one of those
appears on the laminated menu. Also appearing—

dozens of television sets, all on the same channel,
all on the same interview with the same politicians
spouting the same talking points. Even the desserts

stay on message. Red, White, and Blueberry Sorbet;
All-American Ice Cream; Uncle Sam’s Homemade
Apple Pie a la Mode. The suits can’t stop talking

about food. Come back for lunch, the Reuben is amazing!
Bring a friend,
he leans in, we need this place full.
He needs this place to stay relevant, to keep the pay

justified. He needs a captive audience. The waitresses
balance media future on their trays like blue plates.
In my mind, I turn over the secret menu.


Josette Torres someday wants to eat a meal at the CNN Grill. Until then, the 44-year-old Northwest Indiana native turned downtown Blacksburg dweller continues her studies at Virginia Tech as a doctoral student in cultural thought in the ASPECT Program. Torres tends to write wherever she can: “coffee shops, offices, classrooms, patios, Cassell Coliseum, the back deck at Top of the Stairs, the BT, my bed when I should be sleeping, and so on.” “I have a compulsive need to slam words down on paper on the regular. It’s part of my academic training,” she explained.

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