At the Crandall Cotton Gin
by Kevin Ridgeway

the vegetable menu includes mac and cheese,
among other nutritious sides listed in black font
to compliment the heaping main courses.
while we wait, I ask the waitress for a noon cocktail;
she seems eager to mix an easy gin and tonic
to wash down the chicken fried steak,
mashed potatoes and fried okra
that unbuckle my belt and the top button
of my jeans, my Texas buddy chuckling
and flashing photographs of me as I drift into a coma

the best pie you can find anywhere arrives;
three bites in, I drift to sleep in my plate only to be
awakened with a beard consisting of leftover
gravy, the locals giving me suspicious mad dog looks
that I want to take pictures of but do not,
fearing a post-dessert Texas style beat down
somewhere in the flatlands between
Crandall and Dallas

I collapse in the backseat, the sun from the
windshield hitting my forehead
and roasting it for a killer sunburn that will
remind me of this lunch for days to come
as I peel the skin off and wonder what I would
taste like if they deep fried me

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