The Negatively Charged Can (A Sardine Poem)
Something has collided with this can, but it's still on the store shelf
The amazing, enthralling, fantastic Asian store full of interesting cans
If I don't buy this damaged can, nobody will, and that makes me sad
Standing in the checkout, holding a crunched-up sardine can
In my mind I see children from the nomadic, goat-herding Kootchi
Chasing our FOB garbage truck, grabbing black bags of random discards
One dusty boy in green ran with Olympic potential
I could watch him from the top of the tower
The tower that collapsed when a VBIED hit the front gate
And killed my friend Najibullah
From atop I could see a 3-legged dog named "Dre"
Scounging near the smoking edge of the garbage dump
Something glints there, maybe nothing
Maybe just the bottom of a sardine can that caught the light, just so
Catch a breath...it's not brass. It's not anything made of brass.
I anticipate the store clerk will say something about better cans to be had
I will have to bite my tongue, or start talking about food waste
And the Kootchi tribe
Like that time I went off at McDonalds over wasting fries
But the store clerk slides my groceries through a laser put to peacetime purposes, says nothing
Do children chase garbage trucks in her mind, as well?
Later, in my hot red van, I smell spicy sardine juice
Pooling in a plastic bag, an indeterminate shade of red
From a tiny, invisible puncture wound
Like something that makes a tire deflate overnight
When you're sleeping at a Texas rest stop
Trying to outrun something that lives in your head
This can, I decree, shall not go to waste
The swimmy lives of these sardines, packed in this can
Packed so tight they can't even move, and one of them must
Jam his knee right between the legs of a female Command Sergeant Major
And ride for many bumpy miles like that, nervous as a cat, on the opposite bench
Everyone with knees interlaced, that's how tightly they are packed
And worst of all the light wasn't working so it was black as a coffin
But the lives of THESE SARDINES shall not go to waste, oh, no
I must find a place with hungry animals, somewhere
And there is no standing order against feeding them
For there is no outbreak, here Stateside, of Red Rabies
Near the truck stop with the Indian buffet
That smells just like the buffet in Ali Al Salem, rice and curry and fear
There is an indeterminate red strip club where problem girls with heroin addictions
Cling to the last rung of the economic ladder, or so goes the rumor
And inside there is something I desperately need...
A bathroom in a place that doesn't smell like rice, curry and fear
The wall near the urinal is corrugated tin, and just for fun...
Somebody has stabbed, stabbed, stabbed at the wall
Like trying to open a can with no can opener
At the thirsty edge of the FOB for a 10 hour shift, you do what you must
When you didn't bring everything you actually needed
At the weedy perimeter of the so-called parking lot
A tire becomes one with the earth, near a crown of barbed wire
Blooms of plastic bag flowers instead of opium poppies
But if a dusty boy dashed behind a garbage truck
It would seem completely normal
Like he'd just leaped from my mind
Gently pop that can...
It still smells edible, though I dare not eat it
If I got sick, what would I tell the medic?
And who would risk their life to pull my shift?
No, wait...I am not there. I AM HERE.
But I shouldn't eat from a punctured can anyway
Even if it smells good
Because I am not a Kootchi boy
And life has not yet come down to THAT
Tonight, most likely, there will be a random pussycat
A negative will somehow become a positive
I might even make a foray to the truck stop buffet
Not wasting so much as a curry grease slick
Or a single grain of rice
Author: The Poetic Sergeant
Nothing can beat this tasty treat.
I just want to eat me savory sardines.
preteen, thirteen, oh.. my first can of sardines
Now I'm quarantined, with a cuisine of sardines.
Oh my sardines.
They're fit for a queen, pristine, and even packed with protein.
I'll take a canteen with a side of caffeine
Dream of a king as I snack on me sardines..
Nor fancy dishes
Just a stack of crackers
And a tin of little fishes
Whole wheat crackers
Or plain old saltines
Nothing tastes better
Than a can of sardines
when quaffed on a boat
may lead to bloat.
Alas! drunk at sea,
may need to pee.
So sing a dirge for little fishes
which taste so delicious.
In the shade
At the place
Our sweet bench
And warm stone
Where breeze sways
And zither plays
Where we... hush...
Come to me!
I can't follow dream
I can't follow sky
You must write!
Become my wife!
Where shade waves
Across your lips
As we... hush...
Leaves whisper song...
Lips sing along...
Most beautiful nose
Most gorgeous lips
(Coral, grey, glistening)
The holiest cheeks
Our queen of radiant breath!
In our shade
The zither plays
And the sweet pair kiss
Come, sing our song!
Closer, sing along, your song of lips again
Leaves wonder at her lungs, their breath more fragrant than ours
Call to lavender
To spread their perfume through the shade
(Don't forget sun and stone, on all paths of holiday make your scent known)
Lo, they shift close again...
I bring my best tin
Gift for my queen
Slid from my sleeve
Share with me
Beneath the trees
In the shade
The rest of the world is away...
A world of whispers away...
(Zither lulls the birds today)
Eat of my tin
Spiced oil is fragrance for a queen
The best portion
I lift to your lips
(Each flake of silver is best)
(In scholar's chopsticks)
Break the chili in two
For one soul to consume
Glittering fish in our mouth
(Strange to see)
(Perfumed breath of sea)
(In a garden breeze)
(In the hushing trees)
Take my health with yours
My breath with yours
Perfumed with salt and sea
Share my life with yours...
Sharing, we share the sea, or something so wide within our soul (within the eyes that wonder at me)
Will be ours...
Scholar and Queen
Souls of the same tin
(With the life that waits within)
Take the last fish
Queens voice needs sustenance...
Now gift of gifts awaits...
Drink the tin
Oil blesses our lips
Take the last sip
Take from me
(So close to me)
Our fingers meet as we drink the tin
(That only His gift could give)
What light in the shade!
Her joy is fadeless!
Thank you trees
Who wave over gift of 'dines!
Who bless our souls, and bless our fish -- happy holiday to you! May you each find your semblable soul, in a tin, or where a tree finds friends (only don't yet wave the swallows home, keep the shade for two alone)
Trees that wave with song of holiday know
None greater than song of queen!
(Hoh hoh hoh)
(Oh marry me!)
To clean up
Hearts like quiet leaves
We leave the trees
To bright sun
Stroll the garden
One tin of memory
With queen of tins
Holiday begins again!
Sardine la' Earleen
I once knew a sardine
A pretty little flipper, flounder of a fish
She went by the name Earleen
Earleen was in and out of streams
back and forth from salt tp sea
She was a free and darling girl of scaled dreams
Now my sardine woman, Earleen, she knew
Less honorable sardines who packed in groups
They went here and there
Bullies of the deep
So she lead them one by one
Into the fisherman's pond keep
He threw down his line
She danced and dared
With that the dark sardine group
raged and flared
Bit at the bit
Swallowed then tried to spit
But pretty little Earleen
Hooked them with her tricks!!!
Fisherman good, fisherman bad
His hook they took
Now into a can
We serve you the meat
Of the sea that tastes
Like pretty Earleen
has won a great race!!!
Earleen the fish
Blesses this package
Of yummy little bits!!!
-Heather D'Aoust, California
Check out more of Heather's work
I Found A Can In My VanAmid other randomnessIt was an old, rusty can, manfound in Texas, I guess Shannon?dropped near a barbed wire fenceon cracked, weedy cementMy tracker eye said it was lostBy a gamey, footloose spiritexploring the fallen gas station nearbyA spirit like me, who has eaten many a canOF SARDINES, all over my planetIt (the can, not the planet) lay in sun and rain and aged wellTook on a dark orange patinaAt the crust of its original blood redAn antique fishWhispered "Eat Me" with its eyeI have eaten many a can...I have eaten many a can...I have eaten many a can in AfghanistanThat which does not kill me..That which does not kill me...Becomes my (expletive) lunchPOP THAT CANGet my face all up in it...It was still good, and warm tomatoeyIt was like eating some sunny warmthof my red, rusty vanIn this spot, extra alive this momentOn Planet Earth