What the Fat Man Ate • Michael Mark

He looked over the menu, deciding
between comfort and understanding.

He was also in the mood for a little soothing, too.

The waitress was in a hurry.
He spoke slowly to keep her around.

He would have an appetizer of his mother’s hugs and
asked if they had any deep listening today,
something like
his best friend did in college?

With her chewed pen she tapped on the item.
He would have that then.

When she asked if he wanted to try
one of their homemade soups,
how could he resist his grandmother's kindness,
her wrinkled smile, nothing in the world was like that,

but just a cup.

For his main course, he went with his happy marriage,
before two years ago
when something irreversible happened.

He selected forgiveness as one of his two sides
and the other was the warmth
of his pastor’s voice.
And a bottle of forgetfulness to float him away
from his anger and loneliness.

When his plates were empty, he was not yet full.

His eyes wandered over
to what the other diners were having.
He so much wanted to have their laughter,
and their memories looked good, too.

The waitress lifted away some plates and asked
if he saved room for some of the world’s best desserts.
He had a tough choice but went with squeezes
from his children and puppy kisses.

At the register he grabbed a foiled
pat on the back.
Then stepped out into the empty night.


Michael Mark writes to break things so he can
look in and be further mystified. He is the author
of two books of fiction, Toba and At the Hands of
a Thief (Atheneum). His poetry has appeared and is s
cheduled to appear in Angle Journal, Awakening
Consciousness Magazine, Dead Snakes, Elephant
Journal, Empty Mirror, Everyday Poets, Forge
Journal, The Lake, OutsideIn Magazine, Scapegoat,
Red Paint Hill, The New York Times, 2014 San
Diego Poetry Annual, UPAYA, The Wayfarer,
as well as other nice places.