Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Grab

Yesterday I started burning my bridges at the commuter campus. I think it's the right thing to do, not least because the commuting itself is increasingly expensive, stressful, and leads to--never past--all the fast food choices available in America today... and that's a lot of choices.

This poem from Tony Hoagland's new volume expresses much of what I've been feeling, driving up to the window at places where an order for a "small" drink produces a cup that I know used to be called "medium" sized:

Big Grab

The corn-chip engineer gets a bright idea,
and talks to the corn-chip executive
and six months later at the factory they begin subtracting
a few chips from every bag,

but they still call it on the outside wrapper,
The Big Grab,
so the concept of Big is quietly modified
to mean More Or Less Large, or Only Slightly Less Big Than Before.

Confucius said this would happen--
that language would be hijacked and twisted
by a couple of tricksters from the Business Department

and from then on words would get crookeder and crookeder
until no one would know how to build a staircase,
or to size up a horse by its teeth
or when it is best to shut up.

We live in that time that he predicted.
Nothing means what it says,
and it says it all the time.
Out on Route 28, the lights blaze all night
on a billboard of a beautiful girl
covered with melted cheese--

See how she beckons to the river of late-night cars!
See how the tipsy drivers swerve,
under the breathalyzer moon!

In a story whose beginning I must have missed,
without a name for the thing
I can barely comprehend I desire,
I speak these words that do not know
where they're going.

No wonder I want something more or less large
and salty for lunch.
No wonder I stare into space while eating it.

Never satisfying. Never enough. I think I've been swallowing more than I can stand for a couple of years now. I think it might be almost a matter of life and death to move on, like the character in Love, Actually who finally tells himself "enough. Enough now."

13 comments:

Care said...

Move on! :)
I do so understand this.

Harriet said...

Good for you. This sounds like a good kind of change.

lemming said...

The extra large cups from my days at Burger King are now the mediums. This is the hydration generation -

"everyone needs to be told when they have done enough" - As Time Gos By, season six

Trapunto said...

I love this. I sent it on to my husband at work so he can have a poem with his lunch.

FreshHell said...

Yes. Time for something new. Something more filling in the right way.

readersguide said...

It sounds like a good decision.

CSchu said...

Sometimes it just is time to move on. It sounds like you are ready....sort of. (In that way one can be ready....sort of.)

Cschu said...

By the way, I loved the poem!

Dreamybee said...

I think the hardest part about moving on is making the decision to do so-the devil that you know and all that. Sounds like you've made the decision; hopefully the rest will be a positive experience for you.

Jodie said...

Good for you making a life change.

Oh and fun fact: Cookies are now 100% bigger than they were in the 50s if I remember correctly.

Jeanne said...

I like the phrase "something more filling in the right way." I've always thought about my reading like that. Part of the reason I stayed with the teaching when my kids were younger was that I wanted a reason to explore different kinds of books than the ones I could make time to read on my own. Now I think I can vary the intellectual nutrition content of my reading diet without that.

kittiesx3 said...

It's scary as all get out to move on. I know I was terrified when I left the womb of a large corporation to strike out on my own--and then of course I ended up struggling to find work in Boston. But even in the worst pits of unemployment, I would never have gone back. Instead I was ready to ask a friend who's a successful server to teach me how to do that.

Go go Gadget!

Betty (Beth) said...

Great poem!