Fancy Mac and Cheese

My mother used to cook for me
Which bears comment, these days
Dinner was a regimental affair
throughout my teen years.

jarred sauce,
garlic bread
and bagged salad.

Beef tacos-
Shredded lettuce,
Diced tomatoes,
and bagged cheese.

These are the dishes
we ate every week,
With the precision of
A swiss timekeeping device.

But once a year,
On the day of my birth
She would make this one thing
Especially for me.

Rotini pasta,
in a casserole dish
With squares of diced ham
and four kinds of cheese

Dusted with breadcrumbs
And baked in the oven
Till it settled in place
As a thick white brick

It was served with a spatula
In a square on my plate
Where it would slump in exaustion
And collapse on itself

I used to devour it
Excited for novelty
And the demarcation of time
Baked into its core

She still makes it for me
Every year on my birthday
Delivered in tupperware
Clear bottom, blue top

The dish has no name
But the one that she gave it
“Fancy mac and cheese”
Or “pasta putting on airs”

Nowadays I freeze it,
(Damn my glycemic index)
And birthdays are less
Of a celebration anymore

And on a day when my heartstrings
Twang for a moments nostalgia
I thaw that pale casserole
And set the oven to broil

In the heat, how it changes
As it slowly melts down
I look more and more like it
Every single new year

My palette has changed
Since I first said “I love this”
And moved towards the bitter,
As one often does.

But of this there’s no question,
I’ll defend with last breath:
My mother’s mac and cheese
Puts others to death.

Kevin M. Flanagan is a writer, performer, and artist living in Phoenix, Arizona. When Kevin was three years old, he pushed a sheet metal screw up his nose. It was there for some time before being discovered, and required a trip to the emergency room to remove. This is Kevin’s earliest memory. His work recently featured in the Exposition Review. He can be reached at

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