Camille T. Dungy

The Preachers Eat Out

            Vernon Johns


There were maybe four of them, perhaps five.

They were headed, where?  It does not matter,

only, they were not home yet, were not near

anyone who could have cared.  So hungry,

they stopped there anyway.  And when they heard,

We don’t serve your kind, one among them laughed,

That’s okay.  We’re not hungry for our kind.

We’ve come for food. And when the one waitress

who would serve them—she had children at home

and these were tips—finished breaking their plates

behind the building, he called her over

to the table.  Lady, my one regret

is that we don’t have appetite enough

to make you break every damned plate inside this room.



“The Preachers Eat Out” was first published in The Mid-American Review v. XXII, no. 2.