99. Allegory of the Supermarket: Stephanie Brown

Trying to get my father’s phone number through Google, the second entry was for Stephanie Brown’s “Allegory of the Supermarket”. The poem was filler, drawing me to a website filled with ads. Oddly, this “findarticles.com” site had a bunch of links to “The American Poetry Review” and a plethora of interesting poems.

Also included (to draw me in, which worked) was a long list of obituaries for people with the last name “Darling”. Mine. The second of these was “Richard Darling”, my father’s name. He’s not dead, and most of the obits are very old. Again, random filler to draw me in.

Darling’s First Law of Poetry: Coincidences leads to finding the best poetry. I found this poem struck me, and the links to the “American Poetry Review” also paid off.

Darling’s Converse to the First Law
: Looking for a good poem leads to garbage.

This poem is great for its use of language. Mood. Ask your students: How does Brown make a supermarket a rotting, stinking dead corpse? And, what are you going to eat tonight? It is certainly more appropriate than Allen Ginsberg’s “Supermarket in California”, which might get you fired if you offer that up.

Here’s the author’s book, when available. Her book “Allegory of the Supermarket” seems backordered, so you can find her other chapbook “Domestic Interior” here. Or click on the book for Indie Bound ordering.


Allegory of the Supermarket
Stephanie Brown

Procession of death,
Day-glo death,
Potato death,
Death of strawberry.
Death strapped into a handi-six-pack
Death in vodka, scotch, the vitamin-fortified cigarette cough.
Juice of cow in a box,
Broccoli piled up man-felled trees
How long have I been in here?
Our faces look left, right, slow, so slow, so sleepy
We reach for the non-fat,
The boxes of breadsticks, the round glue of pregnancy.
No one ever says, really, anything.
Plastic bags from the roll rippp
Let’s grab a lettuce from the stacks of lettuce,
Bee in the bonnet on the label of the jar of honey,
Darling: the non-world-yellow cheese,
the price,
the size chosen by a stranger’s desire,
for my teeth.
Box of food for the pet at home, standing in our kitchen.
The shelves of canned fruit, yellow bullets of mustard jars
The piles of onions, the dusty garlic piles,
The triangular figure of tomatoes,
The baskets we lay our deaths down in
Fetching cans of halos.
Cry into your toilet paper,
your spray starch,
your light bulbs and lobsters in tanks near the cashier’s booth
their claws held together by rubber bands
Cry into that water
Fish belly up on the Styrofoam surfaces
in refrigeration
headless feetless chickens
Turkeys across the aisle, lookalike big bodies, frozen.
Shelves of bread loaves like big leather shoes of sad old clerks
not like
smell of yeast and life’s
an open wound, festering, and a feast of fools.
No dignity, my darling,
in these last three hours of the world.


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