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Danger in the Supermarket

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The trip to the market is making me queasy,
'Cause this is all starting to feel too easy,
Bleach in jugged plastic that my shirt so white makes,
Cardboard and bagging that keep crisp my corn flakes,
Oceans of ink laid on acres of packing,
Under such lights that no detail be lacking.
It's hyper-professional, smartly designed,
The height of selling, ten centuries refined,
A system that feeds the public's big tummy,
And swells it some more with what's sweet and yummy,
All quite convenient and in a jiffy I'm done,
Load up the car's trunk and begin homeward run.
But over my dinner I watch the TV,
And see that the earth with this does not agree,
Not with the plastic that will never degrade,
Nor with the tube lights from fluorescence made,
Nor with the chem on potatoes they spew,
Nor with the tin cans or my car's CO2.
The market, it turns out, is just a disguise
For my contribution to the planet's demise,
Not that I like it and would just as soon go
To much more trouble and pay much more dough
To keep fish in the sea and bees on the branch,
And do what's needed to the earth's bleeding stanch.
It won't do much good, though, from what I can see,
Since billions of folks push their shop carts with me,
With no patience for mulling things will go wrong,
And figure if they do, we'll just get along,
And this when time's short for us to mend ways,
Time we can number in some thousands of days.
I have to wonder how we got in this mess,
Painted into corner by our own success
In doing things faster than with hunts or with hoes,
So we can write rhymes or catch forty-yard throws,
But upon us it snuck and before we knew jack,
The earth's come a-calling to get its own back.


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"A Legacy of Chains and Other Stories" is Philip Kraske's lastest book. It can be found at his website:

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