Poem-a-Day Writer’s Digest Challenge #19. Theme: Commonplace

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The Book of Common Fare

Somewhere, in the warm hearth that is Grandpa’s house,
where cooks and non-cooks gather round,
is Grandma’s recipe book—
nestled in with the spices,
smelling of cloves,
the pages yellowed and crisp with age,
like apples dried in the sun.
The slip of the paisley-printed,
cloth-covered book is beginning to show,
like a naughty woman whose mystery remains unsolved.
There are no glossy, full-color photos,
but little handwritten notes in script like hieroglyph
about moments long forgotten—
snippets of time left in an old scrapbooking box
like bits of ribbon or bobs of yarn.

It is a diary of love for all things molasses,
a legacy of labor consumed,
for every time one of her grown granddaughters
cook one of her recipes,
her presence once more felt,
and it’s like she’s come back for a Christmas visit
with her thousand-carat fudge,
a Thanksgiving gathering
with her cornbread chestnut dressing,
always served on Wedgwood blue like it was the finest feast.

They didn’t stack their food like Jenga back then
or smear this thing called “coulis” on the plate
or cook with this abomination called “margarine”.
Twas was all simple fare from a complex woman
who learned not from the likes of Julia Child,
but from her mother,
who learned from her mother;
she learned by doing,
not by watching,
and every time someone cooks one of her recipes,
the aroma goes straight up to heaven,
and she smiles like the sunbeam
that used to brew her summertime tea.

2016 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 19

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #321, Theme: Gripe

So my husband and I are fans of “Wheel of Fortune.”  We even play the Xbox game, and it can get heated (especially if I “buy time” by buzzing in like I know the answer and take the full 70 seconds to figure it out).  He says it’s cheating–I say it’s smart.

I chose to gripe about the most benign show in existence–“Wheel of Fortune”–the game show that makes you feel brilliant after watching “Jeopardy”.  (Btw, a “fickle wheel” is how AT&T describes the show in their synopsis.)

The Fickle Wheel

Buying unnecessary vowels,
calling letters that have already been called–
it’s not using your noodle, is all.

Listening to the host without the most,
who holds the female contestants’ hands to the Bonus Round,
makes me want to wash my hands and whiskey-wash it down.

Contestants who jump up and down after every triumph,
who use flowery adjectives to describe their significant others,
who rattle off all their kids’ silly, pretentious names,
are just a few of the many gripes I have about America’s game.

Reality TV, and The Reality of the American Economy

I am not a fan of reality television, with two exceptions:  I love “Shark Tank” and “MasterChef”.  I consider most news programs (on any channel–network or cable) reality TV, since news is more talking heads, opinion, and speculation rather than facts.

I used to watch “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” (a guilty pleasure that left me as unsatisfied as a box of Little Debbies–the commentary on realitysteve.com was far more entertaining).  I even used to miss a favorite yoga class to watch it with my mom (not before the days of DVR, but we’re always behind the times about ten years when it comes to technology).

I enjoy “MasterChef” because I like to cook.  I love “SharkTank” because I love the entrepreneurial spirit–I hope to one day invent a product that makes me a millionaire.  Not sure about starting a business, though.  According to the Sharks, you should spend 16-20 hours a day on your business.  If I didn’t get at least seven hours of sleep a day, I can’t think clearly.  When Mark Cuban talks about how he used to eat ketchup and mustard sandwiches, well, all I can say is, “Really?!”

I don’t think you have to starve yourself or go without sleep to be successful.  I think you just have to be focused, work hard, and it does help to start small.  I am amazed at the number of people who go on there and they’ve mortgaged their house and went deep into debt.  I know what Dave Ramsey would say about that, but I also know he doesn’t believe you should go into debt to go to college (which I disagree with, to a certain extent–if you’re getting a degree in Art History, yes, but engineering, no).  I look at college as an investment in one’s future.

There was one lady who started her business with two hundred dollars–money she’d made one summer from cashing in aluminum from old windows her husband took out (he was some kind of contractor).  She even taught herself to sew (which I can’t even fathom because that was one of two classes I flunked in high school, that and geometry).

Now that admission segues me into talking about the product I’ve created.  However, I not only have to learn how to sew to make this work, but I would have to secure a patent (which would be very expensive).  I’ve made a very crude prototype (there’s a word I learned from the show) for myself that works great.  I think there is a market for it.  However, the uncertainty scares me.  I may not be too big to fail, but I am too poor to fail.  I am not a salesperson–I am an inventor.  Just like I love the creative part of writing, I hate the marketing/business part.  I would be totally fine with receiving a royalty off of every sale–just make me money!  I don’t want the headache of running a business.  I really don’t.  I believe in simplifying life, not complicating it.

That said, I know I would have to agree to have my product manufactured overseas to cut costs.  I am okay with that.  I’d prefer to have the label “Made in America”, but it just isn’t feasible when you’re just starting out.  There was a man who pitched his idea of some kind of pick-up truck add-on, but he was adamant about it being made in the USA to help bring jobs to his impoverished town.  I get that, but until you become big, you can’t afford to do that.  He made zero profit.  If you can’t help yourself, you can’t help anyone else.

The reality is that we’re a global economy.  Ninety-nine percent of people just aren’t willing to pay more for something of the exact same quality, just to get that “Made in America” label.  Most of them can’t afford to.

I’d love for all our goods to be made here, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen.  We’re a consumerist society, a service-based economy.

Right now, I am focused on trying to make more money, to help give my family a better quality of life.  Sometimes, in order to achieve the American Dream, one must be flexible doing business beyond her borders.

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