Saturday, May 10, 2008

Matt's Own Favorites - Wal Mart Blues

Sorry it took me a few days to post another one of my own favorite poems. A few weeks of work travel just came to an end and it was so refreshing to sleep in my own bed last night. But back to the matter at hand. I honestly don't hold a massive grudge against Wal-Mart. It's a successful corporation providing a service to communities, in fact it provides a plethora of services. My beef with Wal-Mart is that I like small town shops. Yes, I know the conveinience of one stop shopping is ideal for many people, myself included sometimes. And yes, I know Wal-Mart employs elderly and handicapped people as greeters at their stores. But how can you walk down the ruins of any main street in any small town in our country and not long for the personal touches of family owned businesses of yesteryear. Am I waxing poetic, damn right I am. In a perfect world, the large corporations, such as Wal-Mart, would genuinely embrace the sincerity and passion of small town shop owners, not meagerly try to replicate it through emotional ploys. My views could be a desperate attempt to return to a nostalgic view of our communities and towns that has long been outmoded and outdated by, among other things, technological advances. Writing this poem was about not apologizing for being nostalgic and, of course, about poking fun at Wal-Mart, an all-American company who essentially swallowed up the industries of whole American towns to become the juggernaut it has become. How can you not laugh at the fact that you can buy your groceries, winter coat, hunting rifle, computer, and get your nails done or go to your eye doctor all in the same store? Tell me that is not comical and vaguely communistic. And it only seemed natural that this poem about modern American consumerism would also take on a uniquely American form: the blues. Is there anything about Wal-Mart that indicates it would have soul, that it would know the depths of sorrow required to compose and sing a good blues song? Absolutely not (and if you disagree with this answer, well, then I'd love to take a walk down the gleaming aisles of Wal-Mart with you). A key aspect of this poem was setting the topic against the tone against the form. Everything in this poem had to be at odds with each other, yet it all had to operate within a specific and measured form. I love that controlled chaos. I love the emphasis on images. I love that I was able to write a poem that I read and couldn't help but chuckle.


Hardly super---Wal-Mart,
sea of messy consumers,
harbor of loaded carts,

you chewed every store
in your culture-swallowing path
and now---you’re a profit whore:

obese, open all the time,
unzipped, unbuttoned,
nothing about you rhymes.

Canned Peaches, aisle six.
Hunting Rifles, aisle fifteen.
Sheets on special, aisle eleven.

Wal-Mart, I want to erase you
like a squiggle of lines
on an etch-a-sketch---but

you’ve even found a way
to mass produce irony,
profit driven, of course:

I’d have to buy

the etch-a-sketch from you
just to get rid of you.

---First appeared in Redivider Vol 4, Issue 2, Spring 2007

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