This poem won Third place in the 2010 2-Day Poem Contest

Air redolent with herb.

Marrow bone, leg of lamb, tenderloin

bound with red string. Travel makes you wise—

tomorrow I fly, but today, labyrinth of stalls,

June through cracks in wood-beam ceiling,

gold-glass shadows trampled under hurried feet.

Talking, tasting, people pushing past; sawdust, road

grit carried in from street. Harlan, the Egg Man, died

November eleven, a solemn day made sober by

handwritten note: Seven months Anniversary

of passing. Sixty-two years his fold-out table,

his pyramid of yolks, this frown-face photo torn

from grease-stained magazine. Deli-pink salmon, silver

sardines. Vinyl tablecloth: red rose, green leaf—long trays

of cupcakes and cookies. Barrel of coffee.  Case of loose

black tea. Mango, grape, orange juice in cooler to slake

heat-wave thirst, but does not console against this shoving.

I know the names of merchants, their far-fetched stories.

Hermes, the fish guy, from the Danforth, and before that,

Mytilene. “No trout today?” he asks. “No tilapia or tuna?”

Tight-lid barrels etiolate dry oats. Young man at cash,

world-weary, indifferent to my small purchase of green apples.

Tomorrow no parcels or World Famous Pea Meal, no grey bin

heaped with entrails from Seafront Fish. Tomorrow is spice

market, feta and olives, religion mixed with politics. Adieu brick

and concrete, oranges in crates, crisp red grapes, overflowing

barrels. Farewell hog-town brick; soup-bone and flies; pig

hocks on silver hook. Tomorrow, unbound, unwound,

ample wax wings to Crete.

Published online June 01 2010.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.

Poetry Only cover image

This piece was published in ‘Poetry Only,’ the Spring 2011 issue of CV2.

Get more great poetry, interviews, and reviews delivered straight to your door four times a year. Subscribe now.