Watermelon Surplus (poem)

Dead of summer, I’m aproned

and sweating at my seasonal retail job,

stacking cucumbers, stocking salads,

 

slicing potato sacks—golden, red, russet.

We get a watermelon surplus—we truss it

 

all off the truck, extra pallets packed

with cardboard bins bursting with fruit.

We heave them through backrooms

 

to the selling floor, all those globes

of green goodness, round, ripe lobes.

 

Boss balks. Supplier oversight,

shipping more than specified,

but we can’t send them back now.

 

Can’t sell them either, he frowns.

They’ll drive our price down,

 

we’ll take a hit. No discounts, no donations.

Not my rule—I just enforce it.

You know what to do.

 

We jack the pallets and roll across the floor

through the stock rooms, to the compactor,

 

its cracked door a portal to the rancid reek

of curdled milk, blackened bananas and rotting meat.

We sling in the melons—

 

firm-fleshed, picnic-perfect. They smash

and burst, seeds and pink slush, food turned to trash,

 

and we contemplate the water now wasted growing them,

gas guzzled to drive them from Georgia,

the insane economics of a world

 

where food is better in the dumpster

than alleviating someone’s hunger.

_____________________________________________

This poem appeared previously in Eunoia Review. It is included in my upcoming book of poetry, Bright Soil, Dark Sun, which is available now for pre-order purchase through Finishing Line Press.

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