Death and Rebirth: It’s the American Way (Like a Mushroom)

Originally published June 29, 2013 

I’ve been thinking a lot about two things, recently. The first being America. I don’t want to get political here, but I think our country is in a weird place. I don’t know if it’s because it’s 2013 or because I’m gaining awareness of what’s going on. The bottom line is, this country will one day end. I can’t say if it’ll be the Chinese, the economy, Obama, or zombies, but one day, this country will be over. Think of the countries that ended. Their inhabitants never saw it coming. I feel like we need to face that our country as we know it, will one day be over. It won’t be tomorrow, or the next day, or probably even in our lifetime, but, one day, America will be over. People talk about how America is so young–and it is—but, honestly, it feels ancient right now.

The other thing on my mind is olives. Olives are a weird fruit. Here are some fun fact about olives:

Olives are a member of the drupe family, which means they have a pit. Cherries are also a member of this family.

Fresh olives are non-palatable.

Olive trees can live up to 2,000 years.

…..And so on. Anyways, I thought it would be o.k. to combine what’s been on my mind into a single poem, as random as that sounds. A lot of poems are about two ideas slammed together: immortality and a Greek Urn, knowing and a bust, cities and Moloch, traveling and art. I’m not sure how I feel about the last two lines, however. It seems a little too pat, almost, and I tried the poem without them, but then it sounded esoteric, which I wasn’t in the mood for. What do you think?

Pictorial accompaniments may or may not be coming soon.

Wormfruit

 

Olives bruise easily like children,

especially if you try to pluck the pit

out without eating it first or when it rolls

from your hand to tile.

But the taste before bruises is still rot,

yet in a comforting and honest way—

like the smell of your own genitals or piss.

The pit you fight to get out for fear

of swallowing could be a little tree

from a tree two thousand years.

(You almost didn’t believe me.)

The pit can’t be replanted now

because brine used to make it palatable,

extinguishes progeny, unlike for all other drupes.

But canned black olives taste like soft nickels,

not like worms or mucus-y trees,

and you can’t explain why. The taste can’t just

be the processing—all olives are brined—

nor the lack of pit, because pimentos work fine.

The can I got for less than a dollar

sits on my counter for weeks,

ugly and mundane as obituaries.

I imagine the olives inside are aching

themselves into tar. In big letters

the label says California, the label says America

pretends to know nothing of wormfruit, that re-birth

cycles must end, for bruises, for soft coin.