It is time to draw out
the hooks, string everything
up, and serve dinner
to the ravenous. I have never slaughtered
my meal, but your talk:
what a performance.
My hands hurt from clapping.

During intermission,
there is time to pace incessantly
around in figure eights. I’m like
some factory farm that has undergone
an exposé; like a hole-in-the-wall
Chinese place where the waitress
is the owner’s daughter and a kid plays
with a laptop in the back, or an elevator
with a creaking belt that still
gets me up, or a shiny store
where the clerk doesn’t know
the place where they keep
what you want, despite the tag
embossed on his tucked-in
ironed shirt. I’m the skewered lime
in your drink.

I have stood in concrete strip-
mall parking lots at close
of day, watching sunsets tint
an orange glow along the wind-
shields. Imagine me scanning
the horizon: the lingering
restaurant signs and the neon days
we spent staring
at menus.

Look at the television: they are showing
some news story about a man holding
an automatic rifle on top
of a city overpass and firing
downward. Apparently, in his manifesto,
he states: “We can no longer tolerate
such crass oppression. Violent
uprising will produce something
or other. Find your place
and stand up; stop following like a sheep
or goat.” 

Somewhere near the final denouement,
a couple stood up, loudly berated
the stage, and promptly departed.
You and your compatriots managed
to ignore this outburst and continue
as scheduled.

It appears we are having some sort of meat
dish with savory stuffing. I will
eat quickly without eye
contact, provided you do not deny me
my dessert. Welcome to dawn,
friends; there is bloody steak on each
of your plates.

Anthony Hagen was born in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993. He holds a BA in creative writing from the University of Mary Washington. He lives and writes in Virginia, and will begin pursuing an MFA at Hollins University in the fall of 2015.