Dear Dirty America


Buying A Yam

December 02
12:00 2012

(originally posted at 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems)

Tall Rick, one of the 2 third-generation
brother bosses of the supermarket
stands behind, prompting the trainee
manning the scanner & slick computer
where cash-registers used to be—
she has taken Mary’s place
who laughed for years at my dead-pan jokes
& whistled & tweeted like a bird—
Mary & her husband moved to Arizona recently—
in front of the bright-lit aisles
of cunning packages of counterfeit food.

The trainee doesn’t know what I’ve brought her
from the obscure onion & potato corner:
It’s a yam, I say—
it looks like a clod of dirt
hard, brown, lumpy, weird
blemishes & petrification spots
single thin comical hairs sticking out
like those from my ears—
they seem to have no business
where they’ve appeared—
but heat it up a while
& inside it’s sweet, & unusually nutritious—
how I wish I had a gang of friends like that
on cold gray days like this—
what I’ve been doing all these decades
still generally kept secret, despite my efforts
& winter coming on.

Eric Chaet, The Turnaround Artist, born Chicago, USA, 1945, raised on rough South Side, pre-computer factory, office, & warehouse jobs. Some teaching, some independent self-taught technical consulting. 1974, Old Buzzard of No-Man’s Land, poems, Toronto, Canada. 1977, Solid and Sound, vinyl LP of songs, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA.  Mid-80s to mid-90s, silkscreened, hitchhiked, & stapled 1500 cloth posters to utility poles along American highways.  1990, How To Change the World Forever For Better, brief prose philosophy, Greenleaf, Wisconsin, USA; 2nd edition, 1994.  2001, People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways, mostly narrative prose, De Pere, Wisconsin, USA.  Lives in Wisconsin, industrialized dairy farms & cows, remnant cheese & paper factories & factory hands & outlaw mammals & birds, post-construction boom, reactionary politics & obsolete machinery, a smattering of professionals & millionaires.  Poems published, over 50 years in many USA states, plus Brazil, Cuba, Ireland, Scotland, England, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Nepal, India, China, Singapore, Korea, & Taiwan, often in translation. 

You can contact him at the Leave a Reply box on each page of his website, 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems, <>.

Find Chaet’s book, People I Met Hitchhiking USA Highwaysand read a review written hereSee also, There’s still a little breath in the old American RevolutionOn Job Creationand Stalin.

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