To Tomlinson From King Supers

Grim white string hangs a wheel Rawdin;

hangs it dead. I push empty basket

clanking drunk past pop-tarts

and puffed-rice, by fruit loops

and shredded wheat – weaving,

nearly topple a stacked display

of men all smiling eat my oats.

 

In aisle six a young fat woman

in yellow stretch pants –

obviously braless –

and white tee-shirt smiles

marshmallows at me.

 

In aisle seven a withered,

man in black trousers and

Wrinkled black shirt glances nervously

Up from the contents of cat food

and smiles toothless and bewildered.

 

My basket wobbles as I walk;

somewhere, a loaf of bread? – a peach?

Here, only brooms, and plastic pails, –

tidy bowl and Sani-flush.

At the far end of the aisle a pretty, young nun holding spic and span

smiles hell at me.

 

In the produce section I am stopped

bagging peaches. A big man in a white suit smiles.  “Young man, where is the meat? – Fuck bread and fruit! I feel

Carnivorous: ready to eat something bloody and mean, to gnaw, break bone

of lamb, or fowl, or slaughtered steer.”

 

I answer pointing, “Over there…

See the plump little girl poking

her plump fingers into rump-roasts?”

He eyes her deliciously and winks;

yells, “What’s for dinner, baby?!”

 

Outside, I squint and grin,

peach juice trickles down my chin,

the sun is hot, and sparrows pick

at break crumbs on the street.

 

I roll away in my basket on three wheels downhill laughing.

– 1980 Denver

 

Note: While at Denver University from 1978 to 1981, one of my favorite classes was a Creative Writing—Poetry class conducted by Rawdin Tomlinson, a little known, though published poet. This odd little piece was the result of an assignment to write a list-type poem about an actual experience in a public place.  – clj