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Breakfast for Supper | Poem by Christine Stewart-Nuñez

One of my favorite poems is by Ruth Stone, about eating at a McDonald’s, and I have myself written a poem about a lunch at Arby’s. To these fast-food poems I now propose we add this fine one about IHOP, by Christine Stewart-Nuñez, who teaches at South Dakota State University.

Breakfast for Supper

At IHOP, after the skinny brunette

with a band-aid covering her hickey

comes to whisk away burnt toast,

Mom mentions Theresa, face

brightening. She had a dream

about her—80s flip hair, smooth

complexion. I’ve been living

in Tulsa for eighteen years,

Theresa said. I understand.

Even as I watched men lower

her casket, I fantasized the witness

protection program had resettled her.


How funny we look, mother

and daughter laughing over

scrambled eggs, tears dripping

onto bacon, hands hugging

coffee mugs. For a moment Mom felt

Theresa there. Such faith. Freshen

your cup? the waitress asks me, poised

to pour. Cloudy in the cold coffee,

my reflection. I offer the mug.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Christine Stewart-Nuñez from her most recent book of poems, Keeping Them Alive, WordTech Editions, 2011. Reprinted by permission of Christine Stewart- Nuñez and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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