Grocery, Found Poems


Grocery, Found Poems

I. List
I totally forgot to write a poem yesterday.
Some days I wonder why I ask things of myself,
drinking a glass of water as soon as I rise,
picking up classical guitar even though I
often dread practicing,
writing a poem once a week when everyone
else in my household is binge watching Netflix.
Bribes help, tea and chocolate chips by the keyboard,
kombucha and cheese puffs between scales.

There were ideas,
notes scrawled over the mundane to dos
on week Jan 22-28 in my day timer while I drove.
Poems titled Loaded, Spent, Sorry
(in no particular order)
(it had been a challenging week).
Yet they were beat out
when I grocery shopped and found a discarded list in the grocery cart.

(An assumed) mom’s handwriting was on the left,
a meal plan up top, thai peanut, burritos, chicken casserole.
Below were the ingredients, 
world’s of possibilities, every continent and cuisine,
onions, tofu, milk, mushrooms,
apples, bread, lettuce, stew meat.

On the right in two different handwritings,
written most likely by her daughters,
was the fun stuff - pizza, cookies, ice cream,
jelly, crackers, shredded cheese,
string cheese, juice, pickles.
Each female had a section neatly marked off,
an arena for work and two pastures for pleasure!
I am soothed to know this threesome existed,
that their pantry was stocked, their larder large.

I wondered if a man benefitted from their generosity.
The note was written on a pad from Columbia Forest Products,
the kind of pad a foreman might have.
It could have been hers! But I am of THAT generation.
I was impressed their home needed no sundries,
no toilet paper or shaving cream,
no tampons or dish soap this week!

The note was remarkable enough,
yet on the back of the note written in the
way of swirly pre-teenager’s
the following, song lyrics? a young Walt Whitman?
(does THIS generation know who that is?!)
an early accolade of poetry?

Never enough for me!
for me!
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make!
Ok! This is the greatest show!

II. Pasta Sauce
I had to share my spoils and showed
the lady behind me, look at this sweet list!
She was loading a dozen cans
of whole tomatoes and explained
she gets together with a friend and makes meat
sauce which she freezes and also gives away.

She wore a pink baseball cap and had lovely eyes.
She told me about her meat sauce origins,
that when she first went into foster care
she was in eighth grade and her foster mom
insisted on help with dinner, she was given a budget
and had to shop for ingredients,
the boys had to cook too, but were allowed simple
dishes like hot dogs, not her!

She was so helped by her foster mom
she dedicated her life to kids that age
and became a middle school science teacher
who just retired after thirty years of teaching.
Good god woman! I thought,
reflecting on the conversations
with my middle schoolers about science and teachers.
I mentioned my foster girl,
and she said, “Whatever you do, keep following your heart.”
I wished I’d asked if she had her own children
I wish my own children could have been in her class.

III. My Son is Supposed to Write a Poem in the Style of Walt Whitman

He is instructed to stand on a street corner
as Whitman did in New York in the 1800s singing about bodies electric.
I wonder what Walt would expound at the
intersection in a busy suburb in post modern America.
No butchers slinging sides of beef in full view,
no fish monger unloading boats
the egg lady now does data entry,
there are not horses tethered to hitching posts
while their riders visit the cobbler or candlestick maker.

This will not be another poem nostalgic for the past.
I love gliding my Prius into a parking spot.
I reap gas rewards when I buy just cut daffodils
offered in the entry next to rotisserie chickens.
There are twenty kinds of dark chocolate
and berries in December,
liquor and cigarettes beckon from behind locked cabinets.
My mantra while I shop,
you are deserving, you are deserving.
Walt Whitman finished his Leaves of Grass
in his sixties! He was a late bloomer!
Today he’d sing of electric can openers, ball point pens,
shredded cheese, foster care, our society, our humanity
our evolve-ity, our advance-ity! still blossoming!