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0 Comments | Dec 08, 2009

Poems from Secret Places

Leonardo’s Lunchbox

The defining renaissance man.

I’m betting he was a
bologna and cheese sort of fellow.
No squishy formless egg salad
for the master geometrician.
He would be drawn inexorably
to the precisely circular
slice of uniform pink meat.

Add to this
one compellingly orthogonal
slice of yellow American,
its corners only just touching
the bologna’s circumference
(like the naked man in that famous sketch)

Then punctuate
this blessed symmetry
with a delicate abstract swirl
of bright yellow mustard-
perhaps the inspiration for
the Mona Lisa’s
gracefully curved finger.

To then hide such perfection
between slices of Wonder Bread
would doubtless have
disturbed the old master.

And to accompany the sandwich?
I’m guessing a hard-boiled egg,
whose shape would have pleased him,
And whose yolk-ensconcing
allegorical qualities
would have satisfied
his most philosophical yearnings.

To top off the perfect lunch-
surely a Devil Dog or Ring Ding,
either, an exercise in spatial symmetry
no box of raisins could ever
hope to achieve.


You’re bound to get idears
if you go thinkin’ about stuff.

John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath

Hands and knees.
Cold early fall morning.
Winter not quite
at the front door yet,
But coming up the walk
bearing a look of frigid resolve.

Baby fingers that should be
clutching pencils,
reciting numbers and letters,
grapple instead beneath the
thick black Maine soil
in search of hard brown potatoes.

It’s two weeks every autumn,
from eight years old to eighteen,
longer if you
can’t find a way out.

And so they spend the days
with their hands filling the boxes,
and their heads dreaming of escape
as late afternoon sun
throws long shadows
over the field,
stark reminder of
how far away from here
everything else is.

But the minds of the
children turn,
like the black soil turns.
And like the potatoes
that spring from underground,
the occasional fortunate child
thinks of a way
and departs silently
without daring to look back.

2004 Pushcart Prize Nominee — Edgar Literary Magazine

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