By Gary Dop
Featured art by Tim Mossholder
When I order fast food, I feel superior
to the place I am in, the people
who serve me, and the grease
about to grip my gut, but
the cashier asks “Is that poetry?”
pointing at the distressed volume I hold.
I say, “Yes,” and she says, “Yes,
I thought so,” her eyes bloom,
no longer machines. Her hand rests
on the input screen as she quotes Frost
or Dickinson: something about “long sleep,
a famous sleep,” and she adds, “Was ever idleness
like this?” Flustered, I reply: “I’ll take
the double with mustard and pickles.” She sees
into me, a mass-produced poetry patty
stamped for the look of flavor. She sees
my surprise and knows that beneath our exchange,
burger for cash, is deeper change:
The life I’ve slept inside, she takes, discards,
and watches me wake.
Gary Dop–writer, storyteller, and professor–founded and directs the Randolph College MFA program. Dop’s stories, plays, poems, and essays can be found in venues such as Georgia Review, Southern Review, Washington Post, and Prairie Schooner. He is the author of the poetry collection Father, Child, Water (Red Hen Press) and several scripts, including the new media play Deemocracy: An American Absurdity (Rain Taxi).