Tabasco in Space
by ALISON PELEGRIN
I hear a generator buzz, I taste those days,
citronella swirled with cardboard meals
and ice unlimited, and the welcome thrill
of Katrina's king cake dolls, half-ounce bottles
of Tabasco packed with MREs marked
"Chicken Fajitas." People thought our food
was special made, a little heat singing
to the tongue of home, but I knew better.
Long have the McIlhennys been men in arms,
and Tabasco has always traveled with them,
from saddlebags, to officers' tables,
to the final frontierTabasco in space,
floating from the dripper to the spaceman's lip.
What could be more American than
a Yankee banker ruined by the Civil War
come south to make it big with pepper sauce?
My worst job, worse than Taco Bell cashier,
was at Hill Memorial, a special collections library,
where it fell to me to tackle patrons fool enough
to sneak a pencil in the reading room.
Afternoons I worked behind the scenes
sorting donations, mostly major donor
McIlhenny stuff, his great-grands dumping crates
of a rich life's ticket stubs and corsages.
The librarians couldn't flat out refuse,
which meant shelf space dog-eared in the stacks
for resin hummingbird statuettes alongside
Audubon's Wild Turkey, collectible most high,
and print number one in Birds of America.
Protocol demanded white gloves, as on butlers of yore,
be worn when turning the folio pages
with tissue paper in between meant to keep
the reds from fading, red berries and beaks
living mostly in the archived dark.
They didn't end well, my library months.
I got so tired of filing letters to the world,
letters meant for home, the family bible's
apocrypha intercepted, transcribed, and shellacked.
Moss Madonna decoupage, and photographs
of slaves around the sugar pot, the children
battling stillness so hard that in the aftermath,
to history, they're just a blur.
when they noticed my long, long lunch,
my blazer left behind on its peg, work
unfinished on the desk like an exhibit
at the Gallier House, all but the threshold
of the room roped off. If only I'd have thought
to tease them with a prank, something harmless,
like sharpening the golf pencils at both ends,
little footprints, Tabasco bottles placed
at random in the stacksnear Kingfish's
windbag letters, between gilt books in cages.
A fake collection, "The Hot Stuff Chronicles"
among its contents a list of nonfood uses:
sentry-watch eye drops, cure-all for a sassy tongue.
Tabasco released a C-ration cookbook
as a joke. Somebody sent me one
in a letter not long agodid they jest,
or fear I'd turned survivalist after a peek
at my post-Katrina stash? So many ways
to spend a mouthful of vinegar and smoke.
Maybe I am crazyawaiting the end of days,
except for me and mine, who'll be hydrated and fed,
dressed in desert fatigues, and off the grid.
I did receive your emails, but did not directly reply because I obviously think you are a fucking asshole. I think perhaps you just went totally crazy, like when people catch a rat in a Have A Heart trap and decide to shoot the rat in the head with a rifle after all. You know what I mean. I was going to write a poem about it, but decided the whole situation was a little too bizarre and wild.
For the record, I am a very normal human being with a very normal life and every day I drink my coffee like a warrior. I spent my life like a door mat and then one day I was sitting there thinking I need a new hairstyle, but that wasn't it. It was this, all of it. I will not play Word Jumble with your emails, though I started to. I will not sit on my back today with the bb gun and shoot wildly because I live where no one cares if you have an upside down day. And you know, the yard needs raking and the baby's asleep and I still know people who should live in caves and I'm not one of them.
As always, buy this book if you are a insanely meaningful human being: [link]
or buy the ebook of my first book for only $5! - Click here to view more details
And lastly, I might write again and I might not. I might be working on a book about Anna. I might need a publisher. I might need to do a lot of things, and there is a moon at night that is so white that I do turn on any lights in the house.
That is all. Give me any new news that you have because I have obviously not been around here for quite awhile! HOW IS LIFE.