I haven't written in verse in a long time -- I am mad crazy in love with poetry, but I left it behind long ago for non-fiction. I read poetry a lot, with well-worn copies of Edna St. Vincent Millay and e.e. cummings in pretty constant rotation, and newer favorites, like Claudia Rankine and Leslie Harrison and Warsan Shire. But in the hours after the massacre in Gilroy, California, I began jotting down notes in verse, rather than in my usual crazy cocktail napkin way. Harrison, a friend, encouraged me to submit it to Rattle's "poet's response," which I did. A rejection -- a kind rejection -- soon followed, but it felt good to try something new, to express the rage and sadness at yet another day in America. Since I put this down, two more massacres have happened, as well as the usual shootings and self-inflicted wounds. We aren't better than this. So tomorrow I will continue to call senators and legislators and and maybe the next day take to the streets. But for now, a poem.
THE STINKING ROSE
If you take your kid to a garlic festival in America you should be able to take your kid home from a garlic festival in America.
GARLIC FESTIVAL PARKING the giant sign on the highway bellows its glow giving guidance to those on the 101 looking for East 10th Street searching for shuttle buses to Christmas Hill Park where Gourmet Alley and the Children’s Play Area awaits.
Unless they bought the VIP package.
Straight to the hospitality tent they go where Gilroy Garlic Shrimp and pepper steak sandwiches and zesty fried garlic calamari and Gilroy Garlic Fries and – natch – garlic bread which they wash down with a Garlic Festival Mule (Absolut, please) in a souvenir copper mug (while supplies last) for 17 bucks.
Keep the mug. Refills 12 dollars.
Wait around a while for a glimpse of Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen 2019 herself Kylie Kuwada, a student at California Polytechnic State University crowned in May at New Hope Community Church.
She tied for Best Speech with Lilly Higgins and Best Talent with Brianna Budelli.
“All Garlic is Not Created Equal” crows the Christopher Ranch just down the road the largest garlic producer in all the land the reason for it all.
Four thousand volunteers selling tickets, peeling garlic, pouring drinks, and directing cars in Gilroy, California where like-minded people have safe space for three days to profess their love for the herb.
(Yes, herb. It belongs to the lily family. Amaryllidaceae. Mix it with salt? It becomes a spice. It’s no wonder it gets its own festival).
Four decades of “great garlicky food, live entertainment, and family fun” in the Garlic Capital of the World.
Schools, we know. Universities, we know. Gas stations, we know. Playgrounds, we know. Graduation parties, we know. Moving companies, we know. Salons, we know. Nursing homes, we know. McDonald’s, we know. Churches, we know. Synagogues, we know. Temples, we know. Army bases, we know. Community centers, we know. Concerts, we know. Nightclubs, we know. Movie theaters, we know.
But if you take your kid to a garlic festival in America you should be able to take your kid home from a garlic festival in America.