by Don J. Badwin ©2014
Dark and unkept,
plates stacked, food crusted
jellified globs in cold water,
the kitchen reeked of vodka
and soured food.
Nearly 2 PM
four hungry kids
from the powdery crumbles
of a near empty box,
ones diaper wet,
stinking of urine.
The sounds of Another World
and TV channels flipping
from behind the barricade
of mothers bedroom door.
The house is dark,
littered with broken toys,
strewn with dirty clothes…
Mama’s on a bender again.
Gazing into the refrigerator:
one huge pizza box
one frightened, dried up slice of pepperoni
cowers in the corner next to
an empty mayonnaise jar and
and a case of Keystone light beer.
I spy with my little eye
a partial head of lettuce,
a few carrots and limp celery
and what is this?
. . . an onion!
. . . and in the door,
hidden on its side
one-third of a bottle
of Ranch dressing.
excavating the funk
from the sink
gagging at the mess,
. . .if only there were dish soap.
Four sets of hungry eyes
gather at the table
hopeful for salad.
The garbage disposal chugs
an unseen fork, perhaps
caught in its throat…
in the quake and thunder
bottle in hand,
hair in disarray,
bathrobe sloppily tied . . .
twisted to one side
and the sour smell of sic
haunting her breath.
I find a stainless blade
ignoring the bottle waving vision
just inside the door ranting. . .
“Whats all this damned noise?”
I extract a mangled fork
from the disposals throat
and wave it as my answer.
“Thats why we can’t have anything nice
around here. . . you just tear it up.”
I am trying to make my salad,
sinking the stainless blade into the lettuce
gouging out the rusty, rotten pieces.
Four pairs of little legs have scattered . . .
refuge from the approaching storm
more compelling than hunger.
Mama’s ranting knows no pause. . .
I flip on the disposal
sending rank, inedible, lettuce bits
into its hungry throat
it gargles and minces
chewing them to smithereens
the noise drowning out
Mamas liquored soliloquy.
The stale, acrid stench of a cigarette,
the clatter of the bottle, now empty
skittering across the floor,
bounces off my heels.
Mama has found a butt in the ashtray
and turned her bottle into a missile
retaliation for the growling disposal
and the hangover pain it brings her.
I am scraping the dirty flesh from carrots
the sharp edge of the stainless
grating down the orange shafts
peeling away the grime.
Mama retrieves a beer from the fridge
then piles back into her chair
sagging over like a discarded sack of meat.
“Your just like your damned father”
I am sending scraped strips
(of carrot) skin
into the disposals throat.
It rumbles and chatters,
the rumbling and chatter
of Mama again.
“I need a fu**ing cigarette!”
The chemical smell of burining fiberglass,
Mamas fingers stagger
through mounds of butts and ashes.
I am peeling an onion,
tearing away the layers,
casting the dried skins
into the hungry disposal. . .
Mama keeps grinding,
the disposal keeps churning,
I am trying to make a salad.
Mama is standing, swaying,
bathrobe falling open, coming toward me
ranting, ranting, ranting . . .
beer sloshes onto the kitchen floor . . .
ranting, ranting, ranting.
knife blade, hacking celery . . .
chop! chop! chop!
The smell of Mama’s breath over my shoulder
screaming, yelling, cursing!
grinding, chortling, gurgling . . .
drowning out the drunken harpie . .
grinding, growling, gargling . . .
Mama raging, raving, unrelenting
my head spinning, spinning, spinning . . .
salad now all gone!
poured into the hungry throat
the gurgling disposal chewing, chewing, chewing . . .
. . . and Mama . . . backing away
mouth open gasping
dropped beer spouting foam rolling lazily across the floor . . .
Mama eyes wide open
shrieking . . .
I can’t hear her . . .
the disposal is grinding, grating, gored
and I can feel nothing . . . I can hear nothing . . .
my lurching arm, shredded hand . . .
the disposal drowns out everything.
I was just trying to make a salad.
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Born Donald Joe Baldwin Jr. in Pontiac, MI on June 27th, 1967, the son of Barbara Lee Baker of Marshall, MO and Donald Joe Baldwin of Bono, AR. After his parents divorced at the age of two his mother returned to Missouri and married Carl Henry Stone. Donald spent most of his early youth on the gently rolling flood plains of the Blackwater and Missouri Rivers just outside Pilot Grove, MO. The beautiful sprawling corn and wheat fields of central Missouri’s farm belt provide the backdrop for his poem titled: For Cara and Amy Renee and many other of his works. At age 8 following the tragic death of his step-father life abruptly changed. Donald and his family relocated to Marshall, MO where he continued to live and attend school until his graduation from Marshall High School with the class of 1985. Affectionately known as “Joe” or “Donnie” by his friends and family. He currently resides in the Pacific Northwest where he continues to find inspiration.