Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21: Final Meals, Psalm 44, Drama

Pass the rolls, please.
I came up with the idea for this poem yesterday as I was rehearsing a Maunday Thursday drama at church.  For some reason, I got to thinking about last meals of famous people.  Lincoln.  JFK.  Michael Jackson.  I became particularly obsessed with what Lincoln ate before he went to Ford's Theater.  I didn't know if I'd really be able to find out this information, but, for the rest of the night, I was planning today's psalm.  This morning, I found a great book by chef and historian Andrew Caldwell titled The Last Suppers:  Legends of History and Their Final Meals.  It combines two of my favorite subjects--food and death.  What could be better?

I have to perform tonight at church, and I'm a little nervous about it.  I almost have my lines down, almost know what I'm going to do.  The other actors are in the same boat.  It's going to be a nail-biter for me.

I don't have a lot more time to write today.  I used it all up with today's poem.  I have to teach, correct papers, make up a quiz.

Saint Marty wishes you a blessed Holy Thursday.

Psalm 44:  Last Suppers

Details from Andrew Caldwell and Honesto General

For years as a child, I hoped, prayed
My last night would be cataclysmic
And holy, a meteor roaring
Out of the heavens to smote me
As I descended church steps
Onto sidewalk, Jesus still lingering
On my tongue.  My parents starved
Me before mass, Body of Christ not allowed
To mingle with grilled cheese or Milky Way,
Holiness absorbed as fast as
An atomic flash.  My mother told me
If I got killed by a bus immediately
After communion, I would go straight to heaven,
The host my get-out-of-Purgatory-free card.
If I ate only holy wafers,
I could be like Padre Pio, who bled
From his hands and feet for 50 years,
Tasted the flesh of Christ in his mouth
When he died, warm, thick as the lentil soup
John Belushi consumed his last night,
Or the French onion Julia Child ate
The day her soufflé finally fell.
Custer stuffed himself with buffalo
Steaks, beans and molasses,
Roasted wild corn and prairie hen,
All fresh kills, prepared by his chef
Before Little Bighorn.  Marilyn Monroe
Ordered gazpacho, chicken breasts
As full as her own ample cleavage,
Layered taco dip, meatballs, refried beans,
Veal parmigiana.  Ginsberg made
Fish chowder, stored two gallons
In his freezer before his last howl.
John Lennon noshed on corned beef.
John Kennedy, first Catholic president,
Breakfasted not on the Eucharist,
But soft-boiled eggs, bacon,
Toast, marmalade, orange juice,
Coffee on the morning he rode
To Dealey Plaza  Martin Luther King,
A real Southerner, had fried chicken,
Louisiana hot sauce and vinegar,
Black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread
As he stood on the mountaintop,
Saw the Promised Land, his dream.
On Good Friday, Lincoln ate
Mock turtle soup with oxtail,
Roast Virginia fowl with chestnut stuffing,
Baked yams, cauliflower drenched
In cheese sauce.  He carried his cross
To Ford’s Theater, was set free
Next morning, Holy Saturday.  Jesus ate
Grilled tilapia, jugs of red wine,
White and red grapes, olives, dates,
Melon and lamb, pit-roasted
And dipped in wild honey.
His friends got drunk, sang songs,
As He broke bread, passed the cup.
They had no idea of what was coming,
The meteor bearing down on them
As they descended the stairs, stomachs full,
Into the hungry streets.

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