Axiomatic

They go around with baskets and carts,
or in power wheelchairs that scoot over
the dusty linoleum.

They’re in the yogurt aisles, the coffee aisles,

in the delicatessen, or grabbing from a line
of frozen foods for the hungriest men who
lost their hearts in front of television sets.
They have grocery lists and growling stomachs;
when there’s plummeting prices,
there they are
with appetites,
hands swollen with corpulence and
sagging necks that blend in with the
pork chops and second-rate hams.

They’ve washed their hair with bacon grease,
those folks who have children with cartoons
in their eyes and corn syrup on their minds.
Sweets have seeped into the precious marrow
of their growing bones and displaced the calcium;
Now they moan like baby chicks and
reach their little squirming hands for the Trix.

The fountainhead of fluorescent light
is the only place for food;
food that appears for the taking,
restocks itself every night;
food that takes their capital,
straddles their love handles,
returns nothing nutritous.

No one knows where any of it it came from;
the packages no longer lists ingredients.
An old man tells his grandson that milk
comes from the mystifying milk machines,
that hamburgers are from a factory
in the far east of Germany;

but there is woman who knows,
who holds a child in a wool sweater,
nourishes him with her proud breasts,
lets him play in the wavering wheat back home.
Like all good things with expiration dates,
there she goes.

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