Poem #76

Ala carte: a lunch room litany…

I remember for supper we ate hot dogs, with beans
on buttered white bread, every Friday,
hot dogs and beans.

from “Dead Horse”, by Thomas Lux

I.

I remember, for dinner we ate Meat Manhattan, on potatoes and white bread
with peas and carrots, my father had eaten,
his father had eaten, Meat Manhattan, with peas and carrots.

The cattle come to the feedlots: we, students.
Oh Whitewater River, the studious caste and herd
of steers and heifers meander, as your bend and bar.
They tattle of thirst and hull their hunger
to the lost lunch counter.

This is why we stand at the register, graduates of fable:
you over-hear one steer contending with a farmer,

“…the pretentious price of a slice of pizza.”

Congress, since, deliberates: what serving of tomato paste
constitutes a single serving of a vegetable?

II.

Some subjects stay at their table:
brown, paper bags an apple, pushes a plastic bag,
withheld peanut butter and jelly.
This was a more affordable option. The term is brown bagging:
not confused with black bag Russia.

A society senior, always quiet, troubles
me: about how my mother packed my lunch,
and why I brought my brown bag?
It was more affordable. Generously, he said,
“Let’s do something about that.”

I never thought about anything:
changing lunch, changing the weather, just sheet music,
lines from plays, the Beatles, mandolin, Ren fair.
It is impolite to stare,
yet we stood there.

III.

Watching news on the television monitor,
we prepared our morning mathematics,
tests, Science, and English.
“Andrew Davis to the principal’s office.”
The protest in lunch made quite a fuss.
He proceeded through our office door.
The super intendant sat superstitiously.
“We could suspend him.”

His mother was attractive in college.
High school taught him about the conflict of interest.
Politics was not his interest.
We, coaches and teachers, administrators knew better than parents.
We could recite his interests: in a word anarchy.

So, what about the rest of semester?
He kept his head held down.
He went to lecture.
Women molested his nature.
Post-its called him a nationalist-socialist, “Heil, Adolf Hitler!”

7 May 2015

 

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