“SKIN ON”

Turning thirty,
I don’t consider my twenties very much.
I did alright—
but for the most part, I was a self inflated
bag of chips;
The sort that sits high in the grocery aisle—
bloated and big.
You think you’ve really got something there
until you open up
and realize most of what you were made of
was stale, salty air;
Like backwashed Pringles into Pepsi Cola;
A belch of bad breathe and greasy fingers.

So here’s hoping my thirties come out as
a baked potato; Everything on it; Loaded.
A masterpiece accompaniment
in a famous steakhouse—
where the valets park your car for you—
regardless of who you are—
or what you drive.

Slice the scallions, dollop the sour cream
and stick a fork in me. I’ll be done by then—
or at least I’ll be ready to be. Because if
I am not ready by then, you will find me
in the grocery aisle again, stacking cans—
and cleaning up the spills
I can only be thankful for;

Because without the blissful idiocy of others,
I would not have a job, would not have
a chance— and probably be stuffed inside
a different sort of bag by now;
Covered over in dirt, like the potato—
before an industry chooses its fate:

French fried, baked, double baked,
roasted, au gratin, herb crusted,
scalloped, in a salad, mashed on a plate—
or in a science project of a fifth grader,
demonstrating electricity—
and winning first place.

We’re all potatoes.
We’re all pot-a-toes—
no matter how you say it or serve it.
We all come out from the ground—
work our way up—
get cleaned, cut, cooked, eaten, and crapped out;
Float to the top— and flushed,
never to be heard from again.

In between these processes,
someone else decides how we are prepared.
If you can choose your own fate,
sharpen your own knife, clean your own grater,
or marvel at the glugs while pouring in the oil
to the deep fryer; I say, DO IT.
Be the decider. Be the chef.
Choose your garnishments.
Don’t be that bag of chips.
But if you are,
don’t get crushed, backwashed—
or stuck part way out from your slot
in the vending machine.
Don’t be someone else's bad luck.

Don’t be that forgotten potato,
going moldy beside an onion
in the back of a closet.
Don’t be that stink I had to endure
my entire first semester in college.

narrative poem written on 04-08-2011 by: on mattkane.com
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