Grim white string hangs a wheel Rawdon;
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 Rawdon Tomlinson, at the time, 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