What would you like for your last meal?
Be creative, and thoughtful, and enjoy the chance to change your mind.
Famous last meals are solitary choices. Some, it seems, use a last meal as a testament, a statement, a protest, or a final middle-finger to the world as they succumb to the ultimate judgment here.
So, what would you like for your least meal?
There’s a fascinating exhibit at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston – “The Last Supper” by Julie Green is 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates (http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/docs/Block-%20Plate%20Gallery%20guide%205-8-15.pdf). This is a fitting complaint about how easily and ordinarily death row is used to ease our bloodthirst for revenge (or justice) – I’ll let you decide.
Early Last Meal
It was too good, I’m sorry to say
too good for an ordinary meal
in the middle of an ordinary week.
The meat was too tender and tasty,
the vegetables too crisp and right
and the wine too right and dry.
Many kings have lived and died
and not eaten this well, I thought
and I am and will never be one.
This could have, should have
been my last meal and testament;
I will never eat this well again.
I now live the life of the condemned
with time between meal and maker
to live on in satiated dissatisfaction.
Famous Last Meals
There are two kinds of last meals that one may enjoy;
the first last meal is of the judicially condemned
(but that doesn’t happen much in the days of
conscience and the humane treatment of homicidal
sorts – only mass murderers, terrorists and
southerners are afforded this privilege today).
The caring province has become an indulgent ritual;
the condemned’s last three, four, five or six requests
of fried chicken, shrimp or catfish (southerners),
fries or onion rings or deviled eggs (appropriate),
occasionally a pork chop and mashed potatoes,
pies, cakes, éclairs, ice cream of all variety,
and cherry Pepsi’s – three, four, five or six.
The single course final meals are always curious,
such as the strawberries – pints and pints (washed),
or gallons of mint chocolate chip ice cream;
the bottle of fine wine (obviously in Europe),
or the ingenious convict who ate himself obese
and sued claiming he was too fat to be electrocuted;
failing that he requested plenty and plenty of eggs.
Anger or irony are, of course, on the menu as well,
as is a request of a fistful of dirt (or a cup of yogurt),
a frozen pizza eaten uncooked (until electrocution);
the olive (with the pit still in it) for Iowa’s last to hang
to resemble his own Adam’s apple noose slung;
and the smart ass who asked for shit and denied it
asked for justice, equality, world peace (also denied).
Most murders have already changed the world
(and in return, the best world is without them),
but refusing his own, one asked that a pizza be given
to a homeless man (denied, but it was still done);
or the repentant fasting of a woman who prayed
and read (the Bible) and listened to oldies all night
(like there wouldn’t be enough of that in hell).
The more famous one is, the more infamous
the choice of final food, though for Socrates
hemlock was not his request but was had willingly,
as was Cleopatra’s figs with a side of deadly asp;
and Robert E. Lee has kept alive for weeks
after a stroke with beef broth and brandy –
which is preferable to the others’ finales.
In first class on the Titanic you enjoyed salmon
(before becoming food for the same) and rare lamb,
veggies of all sorts and sweets to match as the
band played, and wines with each and every course;
as the Chinese, Greeks and Romans insisted,
providing food for the journey of the afterlife,
while Aztecs fattened their human sacrifices annually.
These first last meals, though, most often involve
chickens (always plural) in batter and/or buckets,
though cheeseburgers are a fond and close second;
everything else is regional or, sadly, what their
Mama used to make when they were nourishing
and loving and caring for their baby and the day they
would grow up to kill someone’s else’s baby.
The babies that grew up to become famous for us
and eat the second kind of last meal – that of surprise;
diets of those unexpectedly returning to dust
soups, chowders or salads, for lean and fit lives
or yogurt, granola, even bacon and eggs –
the breakfasts of those who planned to have dinner
but they didn’t even make it to their lunch.
If the great wished to be memorable for more
than heroism or intelligence or power or magnetism
then they’d avoid the likes of tuna fish or dry toast,
chefs wouldn’t dine on peanut butter and bananas,
the King would have avoided cookies and ice cream
for his breakfast, but the Rebel without a cause
might still have had apple pie and milk.
Some second meals should really count as firsts
of the premeditated kind but gone terribly awry;
Hemingway had a steak, potato and red wine,
oh, and a twelve gauge for his dessert, so sad;
Jesus shared his Seder with eleven plus one
sopping wine with bread and insisted that all
do the same and never forget this nosh.
And that brings us back to the premeditation
of Arc’s holy communion, and a cup of cold water,
poisons and pills, ropes and rivers, dosages and damns;
damn if lead doesn’t kill more than suicide –
and depression bows before malnutrition and war;
light a last smoke readied for paradise city,
after a fine meal, and make ready.