May 13, 2005

Bells chime, I know I gotta get away

Two poems from "Capitalism," by Campbell McGrath

Capitalist Poem #5

I was at the 7-11.
I ate a burrito.
I drank a Slurpee.
I was tired.
It was late, after work -- washing dishes.
The burrito was good.
I had another.

I did it every day for a week.
I did it every day for a month.

To cook a burrito you tear off the plastic wrapper.
You push button #3 on the microwave.
Burritos are large, small, or medium.
Red or green chili peppers.
Beef or bean or both.
There are 7-11's all across the nation.

On the way out I bought a quart of beer for $1.39.
I was aware of social injustice

in only the vaguest possible way.

Capitalist Poem #7

I stole the UNICEF box.
I didn't mean to.
It was an accident.
I didn't turn it in at school.
I wanted it.
I kept it.
I hid it in my closet.

The box grew on my mind every day.
I thought of what it would buy for the Africans.
Four schoolbooks.
A dozen meals.
Eighty-five polio vaccinations.
Nine hundred million vitamin tablets.

Eventually I think I blew all the money at 7-11.
Some friends came with me and we splurged.

We bought: Chunkies, Big Buddies, baseball cards,
M&Ms, Charleston Chews, fire balls, rootbeer barrels,
Clark bars, Snickers, Milky Ways, bubble gum,
Sweet 'n' Sours, Red Hots, Marathon Bars, and Pixie Stix.

To be perfectly honest, I might have gotten that money one year
at Christmas when my best friend Bobby Wixam broke both his
legs sledding. I was OK, even though I was on the sled too
when we ran into the light pole. But it was Bobby's birthday,
either that day or the next, and the party favors were sets of
little blue dinosaurs which I really wanted. They actually looked
more like a pack of prehistoric dogs, or wolves. And on Sunday
his dad was going to take us to the Redskins game. But when
Bobby broke his legs we couldn't go. Everything was cancelled.
I was so disappointed that my mother gave me five dollars.

I don't really remember what happened to the UNICEF box.
I might have lost it.


McGrath, who now teaches at Florida International University in Miami, was living in DC when these poems were written. The specific 7-11 discussed in these poems is the one at Connecticut and Porter in Cleveland Park.

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