My mama took two drinks a year;
A shot glass down the gullet—
Yet hated bars and abhorred beer.
Would execute a pullet—
An ax, a stump—one frightened bird
Was done for in a minute,
Yet any gossip that she heard,
Would say there is no truth in it.

And on a dull November day,
You knew you’d find a cricket
Next to the fire, and she would say
There’s good luck it brings with it.

Ladies did not lie or cheat—
If called for, though, they sometimes swore;
Did not partake of wild deer meat—
Those were the friends she had cared for.

She smoked a lot, and then she ground
The butts in a pale china hand—
Victorian symbol she had found—
The satire was not quite unplanned.

Was kind, and fed the transients,
Loved learning and the ancients.
For she was Mama, who I loved—
Who’s burning stumps now, Up Above.



What Is In The Ground

The fence was high and hid a small yard there.
Dead bittersweet led to three grey steps where
There used to be a bell—now it’s ripped out,
And those who want to gain admittance shout,
In my imagination, I suppose.

We pass the spot where once I dug a rose
At Three AM, took it to where I’d moved
Because the landlord thought that it behooved
Him to claim all things living in the ground.
Though he could not take light and air, and sound;

The radiating warmth from that small place,
For that was something no one could erase.



What We Have Come To

Now we will try to save the earth
By eating insects. What’s it worth
To serve ourselves such awful chow?
We’re cautioned that a gaseous cow
Can take away the oxygen.
Must give up oil, and coal, and then
Hope that the sun will shine each day,
Just hope; for Heaven’s sake, don’t pray
But watch the many windmills play
As ducks, unlucky, drop in thickets.
No matter, soon we’ll snack on crickets
Roasted, dipped in chocolate sauce—
They’re bugs, we’re human—and we’re boss!—



A former Wilbur Fellow and six-time Pushcart nominee, Sally Cook is a regular contributor to National Review, and has appeared in venues as varied as Chronicles, Lighten Up On Line, and TRINACRIA. Also a painter, her present works in the style known as Magic Realism are represented in national collections such as the N.S.D.A.R. Museum in Washington, D.C. and The Burchfield-Penney, Buffalo, NY.


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19 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    I wondered whether it was the cricket from the first poem that wandered into the third. I once watched a couple of my friends eat crickets raw. It’s best, they told me, to pull the legs off first, because they will stick in your throat.

    All three were poignant, as usual.

    In the second poem, the final couplet left me wondering. Line 11 is a subject without a predicate. In line 12 the conjunction “for” (meaning “because”) does not seem to relate logically to any antecedent statement — unless I’ve totally misread the syntax here.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Sometimes not having a predicate is a way of adding an impressionistic touch to one’s poem. In general, line 11 is fairly clear in what it provides as atmospherics — at least it seems so to me. It’s like the omission of the verb of being in some meditative poems. You can make it work.

    As for the third poem, let me say this. The vegan fanatics will soon be forcing all of us to live on insects, grass, and seaweed. I’m not kidding… they are insane. Just today in the paper there was a report that a group of them are agitating to change the name of some small rural road in Idaho (“Chicken Dinner Road”) to “Chicken Road,” since they consider it highly offensive to even see a name that suggests eating animal flesh. The sickos in PETA are actually demanding this.

    Do all of you out there think this is funny? Think harder. These people are very dangerous cultists, and they are power-hungry totalitarians.

    • C.B. Anderson

      As I wrote in the comment section of an earlier post, the solution to this problem might be for omnivores to start eating vegans. As stated on the egg carton of the brand I usually buy, “our chickens are raised on an exclusively vegetarian diet.” Who knows? Tenderloin harvested from vegans might actually be delicious.

    • C.B. Anderson


      In regard to the second poem, I see now how it should have gone in the end:

      He could not take the light and air and sound

      Or radiating warmth from that small place,
      For that was something no one could erase.
      (or:) For these were things that no one could erase.

      Or something like that, in order to resolve the syntactic peculiarities.

      Though I buy your notion of impressionistic atmospherics, they must be executed with great care, lest they become mere strings of words with unclear meaning.

  3. Paul Oratofsky

    I took line 11 of the second poem to be a continuation of the list started in the previous line, which, if that’s the case, should probably end with a comma rather than a semicolon. And I read the antecedent of the “for” of the 12th line to be “the radiating warmth from that small place.” I would have written line ten: “Though he could not take light nor air nor sound,” – with that comma at the end. If that’s what’s intended, the next line could use a “Nor” to begin it, but that would throw the music off – but removing the “The” from “radiating warmth” might make it work, although it’s a little awkward.

  4. Paul Oratofsky

    I’m such a meat eater that chicken is a vegetable to me – as vegans would be to you, C.B., in the plan you describe, which sounds promising. And aren’t insects as sentient as we are? And aren’t plants?

    • C.B. Anderson

      Paul, I don’t know how you feel about yourself, but for me the answers to your questions regarding sentience are “no” and “no.”

      • C.B. Anderson

        And besides, a true vegan would not, and would not wish others to, eat insects.

  5. Lannie David Brockstein

    It is strange to me that those who do not like the thought of their eating crickets or other “bugs”, are often the same folk who delight in eating lobster and crab, which are basically giant sea-cockroaches and sea-spiders.

    It is a very good thing that the younger generation is becoming more and more aware of how willfully ignorant and thus destructive the older generations have been behaving towards the environment, in part due to their use of crude oil and coal. Thankfully, not everybody from the older generations is mindlessly hateful towards the environment.

    Many calculators have a mini-solar panel on them. It is probably only a matter of time before every government does pass legislation which requires for all smartphones and other electronic devices, as well as for vehicles and buildings, to be equipped with solar panels, too.

    More and more products are being designed so that they no longer require the use of electricity or that are environmentally friendly in other ways. When cars were first invented, rather than using a battery, they used a winding hand crank starter that was located near its front bumper. Old watches also used to require being wound by hand in order to function.

    Nowadays, there are exercise bikes that double as foot-peddle powered washing machines, and there are compost toilets that do not require the use of water. Many jurisdictions now have programs that collect food waste to be composted and used to grow more food, whereas during the 20th century that resource typically ended up in landfills. For many products, the use of non-biodegradable plastics is being phased out.

    Not everybody at SCP is stuck in the 20th century. Some of us have long ago realized that the same way liberals having been dumping debt onto future generations, conservatives have been dumping pollution onto future generations.

    Those of us who truly love democracy recognize that the best solutions to those problems are to be found when liberals and conservatives work together, rather than against each other, and thus that it is an “oil and coal” economy which has high taxes, whereas it is a green economy that has low taxes.

      • C.B. Anderson

        Joseph, I’ll bet that this is the first time ever that that dra-a-aww-wn-out word has ever appeared online or in print.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Lannie, what is strange to me is that anyone should presume to dictate what another human being should be allowed to eat. In your uninformed zoological comparisons, you do not seem to understand that insects and crustaceans are entirely different classes. And the willful miseducation of which you approve is nothing more than an abandonment of objective truth. You claim to be concerned about the environment — at any cost! — but what about civilization itself?

      I totally approve the use of solar panels, windmills, and the like, but sometimes a bonfire is what’s called for. Are you such an enemy of Western Culture that you think every tradition should be abandoned? If so, you probably believe that hamburgers will be the cause of global destruction.

      You write, “Not everybody at SCP is stuck in the 20th century.” But you’ve made it clear that some of those at SCP are stuck in the Dark Ages.

      The lofty thoughts you expressed in your last paragraph are all well and good, but why then is it the case that whenever I am asked to buy my energy from “clean” sources, the price goes up. Show me a “green” economy with lower taxes, and I’ll sign up today. Until then, I must suppose that persons of your ilk are nothing more or less than greenhorns.

    • Monty

      Well, from what I can see, Lannie, yours seems to be the only comment in this thread written with genuine (and informed) feeling. Whereas the other comments seem to’ve been written out of sheer defiance; a classic case of “let’s just look the other way, and pretend it ain’t happening”.

  6. Paul Oratofsky

    If species weren’t designed to be other species’ food, they wouldn’t taste so good. That’s no accident. Things don’t taste good for no reason. Chickens in France (I’m told) are happy because they know they’ll become chicken soup. (To whom and how this became known je ne sais.) I suspect endorphins in salmon get released while they’re being eaten by bears that give them (both of them) pleasure.

    • Lannie David Brockstein

      Paul, there is a world of difference between animals chasing each other as a form of play, and an animal running for its life from a predator.

      How is that comment which you posted in this thread on January 23rd not based on the logic of rape culture? Like Republican Clayton Williams, do you also joke that “rape victims enjoy it”?

      The following link leads to an article about that statement by Williams, which rightfully so derailed his 1990 campaign to be the Governor of Texas:

      Williams having joked about rape also did nothing to have helped John McCain’s 2008 campaign to be the U.S. President:

      In 2017, that infamous quote of his was spray-painted at Texas A&M University:

      Whom is the more radicalized? Clayton Williams who callously joked about rape, or the person who vandalized that university which accepted funding from Williams for the building of its Alumni Center?

  7. Joseph S. Salemi

    Let’s see if the vegan crackpots can convince lions not to eat lambs, or sharks not to eat large fish, or polar bears not to eat seals, or grizzlies not to eat deer, or snakes not to eat mice.

    Why is it that they only direct their anti-meat proselytism towards us?


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