Poem of the Week | January 16, 2017

This week, we are proud to offer a new poem by Glenn Shaheen. Shaheen is the author of the poetry collections Predatory and Energy Corridor, and of the flash fiction chapbook Unchecked Savagery. He lives in New Orleans.
Author’s note:

I am drawn to strange word combinations in sources of more technical writing. For this poem, I began with the title, “Lucky Cabbage,” a parenthetical interjection I came across in a recipe. The recipe said to braise the cabbage in beer or bourbon and then, with the neuroses of the recipe’s author sneaking in, it just said: “(lucky cabbage!).” Like, okay, chef! I had to keep the phrase until I could find a way to build something around it. I’m drawn to such moments when these traditionally non-emotional forms of writing let a bit of personality or emotion seep in. Like finding the secret sorrow at the heart of any human creation – it’s always there somehow.


Lucky Cabbage


Shredded or boiled not that I truly
like it but truly what food isn’t some
appeal to monkey brain fats and sugars
salts if you want to get crazy but the
cabbage seems happy about it happy
in the children’s book in which the
artist-author has chosen to illustrate it
smiling on the ground and then smiling
when its cabbage head is severed
and sits on a counter and then each
cabbage piece with its own face after
being sliced and shredded I presume
this would continue at the molecular
level and smiling in the bowl as kids smile
with forks drawn little maniacs the death
instinct strong in this one cabbage who
has become many and me I look down
at my hands and they seem distant
as though separate entities is the death
instinct strong in me I don’t buy cabbage
I don’t relish the murder of a head shaped
lifeform although I imagine many ways
my own head may be severed in car
accidents on the way to daily miseries
me I’m just a coil dumped through a
mass of air land and water at the
molecular level I doubt there’s smiling
I’m just I never believe that the heart
is me the spleen or even the rippled
tissues of the brain nor do I believe
there’s some smiling energy cloud
a half step behind my stumbling guts
bag no plan or I never got to read it
the cabbage teaches us about fruits and
vegetables on the outmoded food pyramid
what importance they have they are sacrificed
so we can exact pain on ourselves