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Artress Bethany White

Last Meal

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Reading about a death-row inmate's last meal
is like a blood lust gathering for a public execution.
Those childlike requests for Whoppers and Big Macs
the darkling fatty appetites of the doomed.

I can't help recalling the refused final meals
of the dying I've known, delectable temptations
parceled out by the living going untouched.
A steaming plate of scrambled eggs with grits,
the butter pooling in comfortless  rivulets.

How mournful to watch the body refuse its due
the willful shutting down of a factory
for lack of food, one machine at a time.

A hollow echo down a vital organ's chamber
an epicurean reminder that choice is life
a gastric swan song, a singular rite.


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is to an arm like cutlery to a meal
when an argument ensues
over mussels in butter and wine
and muscles flex revealing veins
ripe for the picking.

Picking is only possible when the knife
is steak sharp and the mood reflective
of crushing pain pounding up to the brain
scrambled lightly with eggs.

Don't egg me on takes on new meaning
when feelings ebb like the sweetness of cherries
which stain the arm like blood flowing
from butterfly folds of flesh opening.

Flesh is a covering, often for hurts
that should not be dissected over dinner
in order to maintain an equilibrium
of family dynamics baked with love.

Love is a decision to remove knives
from a house where cutting is practiced
to maintain the orderly consumption of life.

Life is a child encased in a shell
like pomegranate seeds
compartmentalized in white pith
ready to inspire.

Sunday Swine

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Pungent steam
from pressure cooker's
rattling top
marking time
for a meal
we know too well
though no one watches
you dress
the pig's feet
and innards
we vow
never to prepare
as adults,
cementing our oath
in table play
behind your back
boiled pig hooves
across the tabletop.
Mocking the meal
with scant regard
for America's slave history
of what it meant
to live high on the hog
and the coffled dreams of those
who made haute cuisine
out of the offal,
living low
on the blesséd swine.

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