Excerpted from McPoems, published fall 2009 by Arsenal Pulp Press.


An elderly man you recognize as someone who moves slowly and pays for everything with change scrounged from his pockets surprises you when he pulls out a wad of bills and orders 100 cheeseburgers. You get him to repeat himself a couple of times, 100 cheeseburgers, 100 cheeseburgers he says, tells you he intends to freeze them, they’ll get him through the winter, no need for pesky walks on cold days, no danger of slipping and breaking a hip. 100 cheeseburgers will keep me going for a little while longer, at least, I don’t need much.


It starts off with the woman
who you predict—correctly—
will order a garden salad and diet coke
though you also know she’ll ask
for two packets of the super fattening dressing.
All that day you know who’ll order
fish burgers, chicken nuggets, hamburgers
with or without the cheese.
A co-worker begs you to concentrate
on that week’s lottery numbers,
asks you to do it for his newborn daughter,
but no matter how hard you focus,
you can only tell that in a few moments
he’ll want a strawberry shake.


When the tour group of non-English speakers arrives
you find yourself acting out the orders,
flapping your arms for chicken,
mooing for every burger, re-enacting an epic struggle
with a fishing pole whenever someone orders a filet.
For those few minutes you are the centre of the universe,
more important than French fries, more important
than mascots, extra napkins, multiple dipping sauces.
For the first time in your life you understand
what it’s like to be a celebrity, a local attraction,
the most photographed thing in the room.


Same guy at 7 a.m. for breakfast,
a little before noon for lunch,
once again while you work overtime
and he orders dinner.
Some days he drives through
a fourth time for dessert,
pretends he doesn’t know you,
you don’t know him.


A drunk clown demands free French fries
tells you to
Superman complains his burger is cold,
Luke Skywalker asks for more salt.
After her third hot fudge sundae
you realize Wonder Woman’s
bulletproof bracelets
can’t protect her from everything.



Billeh Nickerson is an author, editor and educator whose sixth book, Duct-Taped Roses was recently published with Book*hug Press. He is Co-Chair of the Creative Writing department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, BC. He lives in East Vancouver.


Toby Sharpe


I don’t know where a person can go when they disappear, apart from underwater.


Young Earle Birney in Banff: September 1913¹

what a day!at the Basin2 dove from the tufa overhanginto the water, playing my trick ofseeming to drown, not coming up until I finish wrigglingthrough that underwater chimneyand burst into air. always startles the tourists.


Zamboni Driver’s Lament

i know hate, its line-mates. believe me. you kids have, i’m sure, wasted—all early morning anxious and weak-ankled—their first impatient shuffle-kicks and curses on me.