Poetry Award

If only the cream of broccoli were not four degrees
from Clarion #0 1998
(the issue entitled "?")
by Sebastian Bach

If only the cream of broccoli were not four degrees
under-cold, it would be gone, taken
away by some waiter's calm diligence, without qualms,
with an air of sound judgment, good sense, and ease.
But, as it stands (inviting mosquitoes), one
gazes at the wine list and considers wines; one
entertains eggs and contemplates apples, too;
one tug at the hem of the tablecloth, begging
for approval but finding that the tugging
merely stirs the disgraceful, capsized miniature trees
into a tumult of eddies on the moss-white lake. And
a peculiar embarrassment, unexpectedly ordered, gives
one indigestion - oh, such impropriety! This cannot do!
But, it must and it must. And it must sit upon this table,
rather, sit before the spoon upon the saucer,
gather dust and outlive
the cole slaw, apple sauce,
and rice pilaf of one's companions.
Had no one shown the chef the way to
absolutely undercook a chowder, underdo a stew?
But, the bowl lies there, now, and is none of his matter.
And, after all, after constant stares and consternation,
one becomes tolerant, one becomes able
to test the lukewarm waters, lukewarm milks, rather,
and gingerly dip one's spoon into the shallows.
Surely, if soups would be breads, breads would be salads,
and such discontent would discontent the dessert platter-
one must and one must and one must call an end
to nonsense at the dinner table.
One must fill his spoon, and fill his spoon with confidence,

and taste and sure enough! a truly foul excrescence!
Oh, one learns the moment, both the hour and the day,
when one's waiter cannot come
and take's one tepid soup away.

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