Airport Cups

Airport Cups

By Travis Stephens

On the morning flight to San Francisco

they hand out little boxes which contain

fruit, a puck of muffin and a tiny plastic

cup of peanut butter. I like to believe

it is some machine squirting peanut butter

into eight hundred and thirty-two cups

not some unfortunate wearing polyethylene

gloves which don’t fit well, scooping out

of a number ten can.

What I recall of food service

was loud music, slippery

floors and the way oven doors leave

burns on your wrists; a misery

to anyone who works in hot, soapy water.

There is a dab of peanut butter on the

lip of my box plus a grape stem among the fruit;

I suspect there is no machine involved.

Likely someone like me,

brown, restless, dependable.

Facing the endless open mouths of cups,

anticipating, far too much

the change from peanut butter

to ranch dressing.


Travis Stephens was raised on a dairy farm. He earned a degree at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, before departing for the West Coast. Stephens became a sea captain and now resides in California. He has been published in the Upriver anthology, NOTA, Stoneboat Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Havik, and Pennsylvania English. His was a Poem of the Week for Silver Needle Press and other work will appear in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature the winter of 2018.

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