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Monday, June 07, 2010


by Linda Warren

I promise a five-course meal
sumptuous treat for someone I love
she accepts for later
I imagine it would be fish
but that spoils it because
I heard the greedy power-mongers

net fish indiscriminately
the dolphins drowning in the bloody sea
the rest doused in BP oil
it makes it difficult to plan
a delectable meal for two

then, imagine a first course
vegetarian would be safer
falicula salad with honey mustard dressing
raddichio and pine nuts
no blood, no oil
but the same cynics have determined
a way to fuse animal and tomato genes
so even a tomato might bleed
seeds mixed with the flowing
red river over china plates
racked above the sink
a hairy tomato escapes
over the escarpment
of white-tiled counter
leaping the cockroach
happily munching on last night's
spaghettio rings dried fast against the white mortar
I try again
to really imagine
a fruitful imagination
how to plan a meal with love

but honestly,
all of this dinner talk
seems out of place
especially when one considers
carefully, with full consideration
narrowly, focusing on a beautifully
wrought out argument
a meal of shame

an argument wrapped in skin so tight
no expansion is possible
past the intestinal wrappings
dried carefully on a hand-made wooden bench
made by my immigrant grandfather

high yield seeds
covered over with
sauce, a bit of feta
mozzarella, a pleasant
pasta blended well
even that turns bad
how could it be?
artichoke hearts should heal
but imperial cynicism prevailed
made these seeds into a tool of war
food into a weapon

I understand in Timbuktu
salt was as valuable as gold
even here the colonizers were spoilers
of our repast
needing both salt and gold
taking both

in Afghanistan the courses
were dropped from airplanes in designer yellow
wrappers matching bombs
that kill more children
hard to even list the food:
peanut butter, cheese, crackers

slicing and dicing faster than the $29.95 variety
sold on T.V.

I am not confused by the menu
my government kills
people of Afghanistan
people of Iraq
people of Palestine (proxy killing)
people of Columbia
people of Cuba
people of whole continents
say Africa and parts of Asia
and Mexico, Central America,
South America
this could be a huge banquet

the bananas, the pineapple
the grapes, the strawberries...
and that is just fruit
united fruit company and massacres
in Guatemala and say it is aid

start on the vegetables
cassavas, carrots of Jamaica
rejected for cheap u.s. ones
kohlrabi, creased kale
with a hard purple center
but the vegetables were overturned
dumped into large baskets and ferreted away
to someone's banquet hall with a short guest list

Palestinians lost their orchards
large u.s. tanks making such mayhem
of trees and earth
no course left
not even the first one

when I suggested food security
instead of u.s. sponsored jihads
the man in the meeting stalked out
saying "that'll never happen."

others gritting their teeth hard
lost some enamel
like that on white pots
set on red or yellow Formica
from the fifties

My promise of a five-course meal
broken, and my friend says, "Never mind,
this meal is too rich
and impossible to choke down
the bits of potatoes
green rot, hidden by pesto."

She agrees:
The recipe for security has got to change
no one should have the power to administer
emergency funds
like Castor oil.

give the funds back
to the people who generated them
the people who owned the resources
abundantly flowing
from the earth.

Linda Warren was raised poor in the foothills of the Cascades by a father who was a hobo in the Great Depression and mother who was a maid; however, by the time she came along they had begun a subsistence farm.  She holds a PhD in philosophy from SUNY Binghamton and her poems have appeared in Feminist Studies, Spindrift, And Then..., and Sophia.