Excerpted in Geist magazine
Billeh Nickerson's first poetry book, The Asthmatic Glassblower, was shortlisted for the Publishing Triangle's Gay Men's Poetry Award. The hilarious and illuminating poems in his new collection, McPoems, are based on his years working at a particularly well-known fast-food restaurant; they paint a vivid picture of life behind the counter and will resonate with anyone who has ever held a fast-food job. Hold the pickle!
from the book...
An elderly man you recognize as someone who moves slowly and pays for everything with change scrounged from the bottom of 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.
Hot Apple Pie
Burns your tongue so badly
you can't taste anything
three days later
when you order another.
This collection finds Nickerson focusing on a thought-provoking exploration of the carbonated highs and greasy lows of life behind the counter.... The poems are quick, tasty meals themselves: fast-paced snapshots of what could be considered one of the most universal cultural experiences in North America.
McPoems goes down fast, in a gulp, but it stays with us. Not, like fast food, to give us indigestion, but instead to remind us of our common humanity. Its poems invite us to treat our servers with kindness and to look with kindness on all the sad and lonely souls who pass under the golden arches; to look with kindness on ourselves.
Nickerson recounts the mixture of mundane and surreal moments at McDonald's like a clean-mouthed Charles Bukowski.... McPoems offers a smart and witty insiders view over the counter for those of us who've never asked, "Would you like fries with that?"
Incisive and very funny.... [These poems] are the field notes of an average teenage employee, hastily scribbled on napkins during a coffee break so the ridiculousness of it all won't be forgotten.... The end result feels suitably authentic and lived-in.
-See Magazine (Edmonton)
This book of poems is just flat-out interesting.... Nickerson finds poetry in the spaces we forgot to look.
-Poetry is Dead
These poems are more nutritious than any fast food order. You'll especially want them on hand for easy access when your friends drop by suggesting you hit Mickey Dee's.