All Politics is Locally Grown


Vince was the party flack in the area
for the Greens.
he always swung by the coffee house
in his little SUV
to get us to sign some petition
against the Filthy Five
or the Sooty Six, or put some environmental
nobody on the
presidential ballot.

We never listened,
rarely signed,
and mocked him when
he left.

His bicycle drew more attention:
suddenly his jaunty boater with green ribbon
was more than affectation;
he was pedaling what he preached.
He earned more signatures
with that old-style bike horn,
and more street cred,
than his used Suzuki.

Two years ago, Linden took over
the farmers’ market,
a half-dozen tables of wilting lettuce.
Now it’s soaps and summer squash,
chevre and chard,
arugula, asparagus — anarchy.

Five hundred come every market day  to trample grass
for berries and brioche, tomatoes and tomatillos,
lettuce and local gossip.
We always meet a neighbor there,always fall to talking,
always forget the thyme.

Washington never comes up;
the capital is far, far away,
too enamored of senatorial ethanol’s posturing,
or cruise missile foreign policy,
so we can have stale and stringy cucumbers
in February from places where it was
never winter.

They say it takes seven years
to change yourself: to swap out
every atom and molecule.
If so, I am half-Iowa, half-California,
with some caffeinated Guatemalan fraction.
But these strawberries we fed each other in the bathtub—
That grew in native soil not twenty miles
from our own spinach patch?
Drenched in fresh cream from just down the street?
They taste so good
I think I’m going to like learning,
like Vince and Linden,
to be locally grown.

I’m submitting this poem to the The November 3rd Club: Literary Values in a Political Age because my friend is the editor-in-chief there, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the intersection of food and politics.  At the moment this poem is semi-private, because I haven’t performed it yet.

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