Last Requests: Serial for Dinner
after photographer Henry Hargreaves
a bucket of chicken / twelve jumbo
shrimp / french fries / all fresh
and nothing as decadent as innocence
nothing as sweet / as a secret well-kept
but the strawberries will leave / a stain
nothin special here / just a meal / same
as any other / one that would fit in
on any old diner’s menu / unremarkable like
the stranger beside you / no requests here
just / an American classic
won’t do no good eatin today / be gone to-
morrow / i get what’s comin to me / same
as the rest / just coffee for me / thanks
i take it same as my men / devoured
Two Poems for Bipolar Disorder from Macho Man Randy’ Savage’s “Cream of the Crop”
“Nothing means nothing.”
-Macho Man Randy Savage to Mean Gene Okerlund,
May 11, 1987
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
It’s while I’m shelving dog-eared Christian fiction paperbacks,
somewhere between Karen Kingsbury and Beverly Lewis,
that his voice echoes from the clearance section,
over the undusted shelf tops, to find me,
deep in the throes of an ill-advised edible high,
“Yes, I’d like to place an order—”
and I figure out this asshole is on the phone
(the phone! in the middle of a quiet bookstore), and he goes on:
“How much is it for one cookie cake?”
I sort books by section: Children & Teens Christian Dating
Christian Marriage & Divorce Christian Parenting & Family Christian Business & Finance
Devotionals Christian Living Christian Grief & Loss Heaven & Hell
“What sizes do you have?
How much for the large? The medium then?
Alright, I’ll take one small cookie cake. The colors?
Pink, purple, & white.”
Same as the book in my hand: The Power of a Praying Parent
“—and is there any way—” he asks, “—that you could do those little
I clearance out a copy of
The Five Love Languages and shelve another in its place. “How fast can you
have that ready?” he asks, as Dave Ramsey grins at me
from a book on display as though he has just farted
and is waiting for me to smell it.
“Can you have it ready any sooner? Maybe one o’clock? Today?”
The women who buy and sell back these Christian romance novels
with their images of sexually frustrated Amish quilters,
of chastened or redeemed Caucasian couples in the same one pose, almostnotquite kissing,
put their initials inside the back cover
to know they’ve read this one already,
not to buy it on accident again.
“Great, that will work. Oh, sure—it doesn’t cost extra, does it?
And how many words do I get?”
The Spiritual Warfare shelf warns me of the perils of hell,
and its path paved by Halloween & the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, fast living & the leftist agenda, each swearing an authority up on high,
Battlefield of the Mind The Armor of God War Room
“Well in that case,” he says, “make it say Happy Belated Mother’s Day.”
I finish shelving my cartful of salvation & damnation
and wonder about whether and what things
can be or cannot be forgiven.
Josh Shepard is a poet and artist living in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. His work can be found most recently or upcoming in Waxwing, Bureau of Complaint, The Lunch Break Zine, cool rock repository, and Slipstream.