Tuesday, October 3, 2017

#245: Three Poems by Kate Bernadette Benedict

~These poems were selected by Clara Jane Hallar, assistant editor for poetry 

~This poem was previously published in Without Halos (1988) and Pudding (1993)

“Early Lessons: Submission”

She hates it, they make her eat it,
she mustn’t leave the table until every slice
of cold boiled carrot is off her plate.
6:30, 7:00: she sits there, staring
at those vomit-orange pellets
on pink Melmac, stabbing
at them with a fork, smelling
their sickening odor.
7:30, 8:00: now and then she thumbs a wedge
into her pressed mouth, gagging.
8:30, 9:00: her father holds firm,
she has to eat them.
Her mother warms them up and makes
a carrot sandwich: carrot bits,
pocked with mayo, poking
out of soft white Wonder bread.
It feels moist and lumpy in her hands
but the ruse helps.
She gets most of it down
and is released to one TV show,
a cupcake, her sheltering bed.
Then it’s time for breakfast.
They feed her boiled eggs
with raw running whites,
and orange juice, mossy with pulp,
and bacon, blubbery with slick fat,
and she hates it and has to eat it.


“The Beer Garden”

~This poem was previously published in Eclectic Literary Forum (1992)

. . . where I climbed a tall stool to wood
perch then peered over amber flora:
my father’s secret world. An aura
glowed above all beer pulls, each hood
a lit-up Rheingold or Schaefer logo.
A beer and a ball for him, a coke
in a cocktail glass for me. Smoke
snaked while I chomped chips. Row
upon row—the liquor behind the bar
in lavish overgrowth; on it, lily-
pad coasters: cardboard sponge. Silly,
but I liked to sniff them. There, far
from mother’s frowns, me and daddy, in cahoots—
together tasting heady, intoxicating fruits.


 "The Beauty in the Bun"

~This poem was previously published in Thema (1991)

“You’ve got to be able to see the beauty in a hamburger bun”
—Ray Kroc, Founder, McDonalds

Admire its shapely elegance,
geodesic, plump,
yielding in texture,
female in line,
with a Braille of tickling seeds
along the dome.
Thumbable, ethereal.
And the palette!
Eggshell brown blending
to eggshell white.
Spare, modern,
a Bauhaus hassock
or a Warhol icon.
Ergonomic in contour,
rhythmic in proportion,
functional in form.
I have sold a billion,
I will sell a trillion.
I sell what people want.
They wait in line
the world over
to consume a joy forever.



“Early Lessons: Submissions” & “The Beer Garden”

I was in my early 30s and things were not going well, not personally, not professionally. Why did I keep getting in my own way?  To find out, I embarked on a course of intense psychotherapy and childhood memories returned with great clarity. In time, I would mold the memories into poems like these, one of which relates a circumstance of force-feeding and entrapment, one of which describes the elation of a temporary escape.

“The Beauty in the Bun”
I laughed out loud when I came across Ray Kroc’s statement and immediately set to exploring its implications in what I hoped would be a developed and witty poem. 



Kate Bernadette Benedict, of Riverdale, New York, is the author of Earthly Use: New and Selected Poems, published in 2015. Her previous collections were Here From Away and In Company. Her poems have been appearing in literary magazines since 1980 and the early works, including the poems featured here, were published under her birth name, Catherine Shaw. Kate edited the erstwhile poetry journals Umbrella and Tilt-a-Whirl; the archives remain online and are linked from her home page at www.katebenedict.com.

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