Choosing a diner for fine dying

J.C. Rodriguez

is choosing the best person and place to split

      a pancake. Which atmosphere is most inviting

for syrup kissing butter, or two big sausage links

      instead of patties, or honey on eggs, or whatever

shit you, or I, or anyone else seeks on a morning

      reserved for the Lord. So I would love you

even more if we got there before eleven; before

      the line fills up with people — people I hope

can tell my corpse apart from any other

      corpse in Westbury. I want someone

to hear the news and say “Oh no, remember

      him?” and breathe a sigh of relief to know

they have the wrong guy. I want to die in a diner

      where everyone knows a John Rodriguez

and can pick their John Rodriguez out of a line-up

      of John Rodriguezes because they’re used

to John Rodriguezes and the trouble we find

      ourselves in. So let’s stay and eat, please.

There’s a graveyard nearby already. I had my first

      coffee here and my first order of gravy fries.

My father used to scold me for getting cereal

      when the eggs and sausage were right

in front of us and before all that, a block away,

      I walked rings to an altar of my parents

and saw myself in all the pews and I think

      they remember: a priest once found

my face in a puddle at the food pantry.

      I think he can hold your hands to pray,

or weep, or scream, or plead. I need to die

      in a town that can’t tell lies about me.


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