Two poems about McDonald’s
at 56th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan
By Patrick T. Reardon
Three hundred and sixteen days later
The man is preaching to a table
of Bible study men and women in
the McDonald’s on 56th Street
at Eighth Avenue in New York City,
and I wish his Lord Jesus
was the on-off switch he describes.
You rejected the light-switch Jesus
you couldn’t find.
I heard Jesus in the music.
I smelled Jesus in the incense and shit.
I felt Jesus in the Alleluia spaces
of the churches and the city. I
walk the streets of Manhattan and
Chicago and I touch Jesus in the red
bricks of apartment buildings
and see Jesus in the golden afternoon
sun on the apartment building wall.
The lady at the Bible study table
is praying to the Lord for a son with
sinus illness and throat illness,
for blessing from the crown
of his head to the soles of his feet.
Your pain was to the soul.
Could you have walked these streets
with me? Could I have given them
to you? Even thought to have given?
You were in the furnace and
the flames ate you.
You were in the lion’s den and
She is praying for her brother now.
I pray God hugged you in heaven
who did not hug you on earth.
Oh, David. I failed you and
you failed me. We failed our-
selves. And made our way.
She is blessing McDonald’s now.
I went through the jungle and
found the jungle. You went into the
jungle and lost your way.
We can only fail. We
can only hope. We struggle or
You took control
and brought the end.
You were blinded by the
religion of the boulder
goddess who was an
eggshell skin over a
bag of fear. She taunted you
out of her dread. Her shell
was too thin to let you in but you
could not see. I only saw the need to
This poem originally appeared in Requiem for David, published in February, 2017, by Silver Birch Press.
Eighth Avenue McDonald’s, Manhattan
The Bible study women and
men are praying somewhere
else this Monday afternoon as,
near their empty table, six
button-up business men and
women cup around the guy in
the tan jacket and ruminate on
the ponderables of fast-food
-drink lids. Do the Bible
study women and men still
pray for the woman’s son and
for McDonald’s as they did
when my brother was new
self-dead? God bless the
corporation. God bless the
baby. And God bless me.
This poem originally appeared in Poetry Quarterly, Spring, 2020, published August, 2020.
Patrick T. Reardon