Thursday, February 24, 2011



Their bickering is like a cacophony of blue-jays
sparring, spewing, taking sarcastic jabs, stabbing
aimlessly. I see the seething hostility,
like a hot steaming pot ready to boil over, emitting
hot gasses and scalding water, scarring

From where I sit looking up, all I can see
are faces: Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head,
with expressions distorted, almost comical,
but whispering in infuriated tones.
Frowns, smiles turned upside
down, like murderous outlaws.

I am asked to finish my peas. I hate
peas. They are mushy, with texture
like baby food. My brother mixes
his with mashed potatoes, while feeding
the flavorless meatloaf to the dogs under the table.
They gratefully lap it up.

My aunt and uncle are oblivious, waging a war
that escalates, each claiming prized territories,
lands protected by an army of hate,
but both are overpowered by their own opposing
forces. We watch the skirmish, afraid to move,
dodging their spears and javelins, thrown senselessly.

My sibling and I are trapped at dinner,
unable to be excused, our plates still half full,
milk still in our glasses. We must eat everything
on our plate, gobbling what they were deprived,
having grown up in the Depression.

I am no longer hungry. Instead I want to hide,
shrink and fade into the darkened dusk,
avoiding both feuding opponents.
I am stuck in their web, sucked in like a fisherman
who reels in a trout. I am being de-boned,
my head is lopped off. I am now the entrée.

"Eat your peas!"

My aunt's noticeable exasperation
is drowning her once omnipotent voice,
frustration now giving away to tears.
My uncle falls silent as a silver stone,
face pulled tight, grimacing, reminding
me of an unstable clown. At any moment,
he might erupt into laughter, at some demented
joke, only things will not turn out the way
it had been designed.

And, I feel helpless, weary of their aggression.
How much longer must I endure this?
When will Mom and Dad return from their trip?
A few days? A week? Hours seems like years.
I ask to be excused. Defeated, they consent.
The warriors now occupy their terrain,
so they relent. I get down and walk towards
the den, the television a welcome distraction.
I can now try and forget.

© copy right 2011, Michael W. Holland

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