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A Reading from the Cookbook of Prophet Jeremiah

From behind Price Chopper's seafood display,
Margie displayed haddock at $4.99 a pound
to a beatnik with a ruby earring and an attitude.

scanton electric city

She is 60, divorced, dislikes her thinning hair,
bags beneath eyes, spiffy Price Chopper cap,
but her white smock made her look fatter.She wrapped the beatnik's haddock, price-tagged,
he failed to say,”thanks.”

Margie attended church prior to work at Noon –
Empty pews and long sermon troubled her,
she recalled First Reading from Jeremiah.

A court official from “G-D knows what country”
indicated Jeremiah's in trouble, no water in cistern,
only mud, and “there's no food in the city.”1

People around Scranton seem to forget,
“Lots of food upon Price Chopper shelves,”
ancient economic policy bewildered Margie,
she hoped someone tossed Jeremiah a rope,
climbed out of Prince Malachia's cistern, ate an apple,
$2.00 a Babylonian pound.

Back home, Margie attended her tomato garden.
Landlord Jim promised next year, “you can expand,
grow carrots, maybe potato,” she could collectivize
agriculture like Ukraine, 1930s, minus the famine.

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Margie bent down to check for red tomatoes,
clipped vines, shooed-away bumblebees.

President Obama's flying to Scranton next Friday,
she hopes he stops at Glider Diner, eats eggs-over-light,
leaves waitresses Conagra-size tips,
vows to restore Scranton's produce-block, Speakeasies,
nominate Zedekiah “King of Detroit,” free Jeremiah,
reveal John Mitchell's buried beneath Margie's garden.

chuck orloski

Why is she letting perspiration fall upon buds?
A couple red ones cling to vines, beatnik's dangling earring,
head of lettuce cost $1.29 a pound last week,
last night Price Chopper tag was $2.99 a head –

Come Labor Day 2013, only Hittite Empire's going hungry,
Margie settled for grilled cheese & tomato sandwich,
lettuce topping could wait for banner years.

1. From Old Testament Jeremiah 38:4—8-10

Charles Orloski