My collection, William Greenway’s Selected Poems is from FutureCycle Press. Both my tenth and eleventh collections won Ohio Poetry Book of the Year Awards. I have published in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, Shenandoah, and Prairie Schooner. I'm Distinguished Professor of English at Youngstown State University.
My love loves them,
the only thing she eats
that’s good for her.
For me they’re like eating
He, too, hated them,
(even the best, “Leseur,”
in the silver can).
He’d eat, but couldn’t swallow,
even when she made him sit
at the dinner table
till he would.
I’d try to reach over
and spoon them
off his plate
when her stiff back was turned,
kept a weather eye.
So he’d sit for hours,
chipmunk cheeks pooched
with the green goo,
forbidden to leave.
That was my little brother—
all of our young lives
in a mouthful.
Monday they'd bring a quarter—I'd carry
another bag, creased and wet
from my fist, or box that was a tin
cartoon of leftovers. Down a long
row I walked for milk, past steel
pans steaming real food. Anything
gets old, perfect meatloaf, vine ripe
tomatoes--under desks they
harden, soften, exchange chemicals.
Some days I'd dump it all, even sandwiches
my blond mother made in darkness,
unopened into drums of pig slop and beg
hard rolls like Luke Butler,
who stank, had green clothes, free hot
lunches, and blackheads, volcanoes pricked
with pepper. I still get sick of what
I make myself, and crave, not Antoine's
or Maxim's, but the dawn bacon of summer
camps, mess halls, the cafeterias of prisons,
mental institutions, homes for the old.
And what is heaven but another leftover?
Although I hope it's a sort of higher school,
one you walk to with both hands open.
a ham dinner
i will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
it’s what we should bow our heads
she always said,
so we thought it a home remedy
passed down from mother
but found out later
mom-mom made it up
on the spot,
some first time, long ago,
to whisper in the ears
of giggling girls
to hush them up,
maybe when the sermon that day
was the wrestling angel
on the thigh.
the green bean casserole,
and buttered yams,
even mashed potatoes
drizzled with the thin, dark
blood of red-eye gravy,
and then it was us, all
glazed, and silent, and solemn
as if it really were
time to eat,
as if it were time
©2016 William Greenway
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