Choosing a diner for fine dying
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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