Sharp, Michael William, 1777-1840; Man Eating

“Faster,” he said. I opened the metal door and got in; he sat in the back.
“Go. Go fast. Fast as you possibly can.” I stepped on it. I rushed, speed limits?
Faster through lights. Stopped.
He cursed. “Traffic,” he mumbled. “Let’s go!”
He stuck his head out the window, yelling at others, at lights: “Faster!”
“Faster!” “Faster! “Faster!”
I parked. Quickly. We got out. He told me to walk fast.
I opened the door, ran up the steps, sat down, began to work.
“Do it faster today,” he said. I obeyed.
I don’t know why but I did.
This thought made me hesitate. He hate’s hesitation.
He yells all the louder when I pause.
“May I break?” I asked, “to relieve myself?”
“Do it—fast.” He glared. I rose and returned in less than two minutes.
“I have to research,” I explained.
“This takes time.”
“Faster,” he replied. “Do it faster than last time.”
Lunch arrived. I ate—shoved my food
down my throat.
“Faster! Faster! Faster!”
as I shoved before swallowing.
At the end of the day, I showed him my work.
“Okay. Tomorrow, do it faster.”
“I think it’s pretty good.”
“Good? Son, this is ‘Merica: Who cares
if it’s good. It must be quick. Fast.
Better a project done quick and hasty,
Than with care that wastes time.”
I drove home. Faster than when I left.
I entered the apartment.
“I need to rest—”
“No time. Do it fast if you must.”
I sat and restlessly watched a show, fast.
I once watched a whole series
in two days.
But when I told him this, he said,
“Next time, watch it in one.
Shove down your shows
like you shove down your food
like you shove down information
like you shove down pleasure
and space and sleep and people,
friendship and romance—`
Dinner was quickly heated.
He wanted it in five minutes.
I ate fast—
Faster than lunch.
“Faster!” He yelled as I chewed.
“Fast! Fast! Fast!”
“No questions!”
I chewed.
So quickly I choked.
“Cough it up!
I couldn’t. I
tried to cough quickly
but choked
all the more.
He said as I gasped
for breath.
He took me and
laid me on my bed,
We’re losing time.
Get this over quickly,”
He encouraged.
“But why?
“Father!” I yelled.
“Father!” I looked in his eyes. I slowed. “May I have some
time? Time to think and pray and—”
“No!” he said quickly.
“Time’s up,
The end has come.”

Broom Snow
The Desert Schooner,
Pecos & Bonanza,
28 March 2016

Painting: “A Man Eating,”
By Michael William Sharp,
Oil on canvas, 1813


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