Sarah Newman SST8 Scratch Final Version

22 Feb


American capitalism feeds us

at the dessert section in Tennessee’s canteen.

Thick icing glows on cupcakes,

cookies grab at my teeth,

and doughnuts only compete at breakfast.

At the ice cream machine

students consume with blinkers,

watching the sludge curl into the cone

whilst they hide from the climate change witchery

of a Knoxville snowstorm.

In a freezer a shiver away,

the workers toil, scythes switched to scoopers,

determined sorority sisters drag

along t-shirts and stick to leggings

behind their well-made faces.

Bald eagles are trained to swoop

and let their slow vowels catch up,

dole out strawberry sprinkles with only enough

sauce for a swift ‘bless your heart’.

Boys in orange baseball caps squeeze

silver handles, drop perfect spheres

down their throats and swirl their tongues.

They smirk as Volunteer soldiers,

knowing they’ll come home,

drizzled with democratic royalty,

under the moniker: Vols.

I step to the plate, uncomfortable

in an American metaphor, to plough

through chocolate but my scythe

sinks and a second try

brings out flakes. American faces

hide behind false advertising.

I don’t have labouring hands –

change tactics and crawl out strawberry dust,

choose my seat in uniform rows

and shove the sweetness in my gob.

The polar vortex hits me like a rogue basketball.

The snowstorm wails in untyped words

and English swear words dribble

out of my mouth, landing on my shirt

as ice cream droplets,

staying there as stains.

I watch half eaten meals zip

around the conveyor belt

and hear the hinge of an icicle crack.

A year later, swallowed by brainfreeze,

I read on San Francisco systems

that American capitalism will knock down

the dessert section, the whole Tennessee canteen,

and my old bed in my crisp homesick haven,

to build something bigger.

The ice cream machine will turn to rubble

and I guess I will no longer have brainfreeze.

But a year ago

I plopped my trash on the conveyor belt

and glided to a bowl of vanilla,

sitting petrified, waggling a spoon.

But I took my time and swallowed

uneven blobs cut by my glottal stops.

American capitalism feeds us

at the dessert section in Tennessee’s canteen,

and then knocks you down.

But my parents are socialists, and I

am good.


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