The Last Supper

David Kirby

                             Smoked salmon on buttered bread, a steak brushed

with olive oil and turned twice over a roaring fire,

                             a pear poached in red wine. Or oysters, Dover sole,

lemon ice with a shot of vodka. It doesn’t have

                             to be fancy: a pizza, say, a couple of glasses

of the house red, an apple. On Death Row,

                             you can order whatever you like. Timothy McVeigh

asked for two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream,

                             John Wayne Gacy wanted a dozen shrimp, a bucket

of chicken, french fries. Almost no one orders vegetables.

                             What’s the point? Nobody thinks of the future.

Well, Sacco and Vanzetti, maybe. They asked

                             for a poor man’s meal: soup, tea, meat, toast.


                              Did they know they’d be saints? Or maybe after a lifetime

of being kicked around, they knew not to expect too much.

                            McVeigh and Gacy thought only of themselves,

as they had when they’d set the bomb, strangled the boys.

                             Then there’s Victor Feguer, who kidnapped a doctor

and killed him for his drugs. Feguer wanted only

                             a single olive on a plate, the olive a period at the end

of a sentence, the plate blending with the whiteness

                             of the tablecloth, the cell walls, the clouds he could see

through the little window, the sheets on the gurney

                             down the hall. And after that, what? Nobody knows.

You will never kill anyone, yet you could have

                             this same meal. You, too, could go to your death hungry.

David Kirby’s collection The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. Kirby is the author of Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement of London called “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense.” Kirby’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His latest poetry collection is Get Up, Please.