Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Night Poetry

Fruit Cocktail in Light Syrup

by Amy Gerstler

Rocket-shaped popsicles that dyed your lips blue
were popular when I was a kid. That era got labeled
“the space age” in honor of some longed-for,
supersonic, utopian future. Another food of my
youth was candy corn, mostly seen on Halloween.
With its striped triangular “kernels” made
of sugar, wax and corn syrup, candy corn
was a nostalgic treat, harkening back to days
when humans grew, rather than manufactured,
food. But what was fruit cocktail’s secret
meaning? It glistened as though varnished.
Faint of taste and watery, it contained anemic
grapes, wrinkled and pale. Also deflated
maraschino cherries. Fan-shaped pineapple
chunks, and squares of bleached peach
and pear completed the scene. Fruit cocktail’s
colorlessness, its lack of connection to anything
living, (like tree, seed or leaf) seemed
cautionary, sad. A bowl of soupy, faded, funeral
fruit. No more nourishing than a child’s
finger painting, masquerading as happy
appetizer, fruit cocktail insisted on pretending
everything was ok. Eating it meant you embraced
tastelessness. It meant you were easily fooled.
It meant you’d pretend semblances,
no matter how pathetic, were real, and that
when things got dicey, you’d spurn the truth.
Eating fruit cocktail meant you might deny
that ghosts whirled throughout the house
and got sucked up the chimney on nights
Dad wadded old newspapers, warned you

away from the hearth, and finally lit a fire.

fruit salad by james rosenquist
Fruit Salad (oil on canvas) by James Rosenquist


okjimm said...

I always hated the grapes in fruit cocktail. Not sure why....but I gave up fruit cocktail in the third grade just because I hated those grapes.

The next to go was spam

FreeThinke said...


Rain on the rooftop
Sea sounds at a sunny beach
City sounds at night

The drip of water
From all the soggy branches
In the piney woods

A kitten's purring
During an afternoon nap
On a shady porch

The breeze in the trees
The rustle of autumn leaves
The sound of silences

My new dishwasher
Humming quietly as it
Eases my burdens

A murmuring stream
The drip drip drip from the eaves
As icicles melt

Rush Limbaugh spouting
Irrefutable logic
In the afternoon

~ FreeThinke

FreeThinke said...

Rosenquist's vibrant painting contradicts the dismal, disparaging spirit of the poem. Rosenquist makes the insipid concoction look downright appetizing –– almost luscious.

My mother never served this stuff. We much preferred Birdseye Frozen Mixed Fruit - strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, blueberries, and sliced peaches. [I think, if I remember correctly!] Anyway it was delicious when eaten just a little more than half thawed. ;-)

Duckys here said...

The pears really got to me.

The whole mixture was bland but the pears were the most tasteless.

Processed food became much more appealing if not more nutritious.

Duckys here said...

Rosenquist made a fine body of work displaying advertising images, FT.
I always had difficulty determining whether it was ironic or whether he was celebrating the consumer world.