Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feeding the Machine


Photo posted by Brian Miller at
D'verse Poets

























They looked like a mother and son,
waiting in line to feed the machine,
recycling old bottles and cans.

The line was long - black bags bulging
over the sides of shopping carts.
The automatic door whooshed open

as people approached or passed,
cheerfully accommodating - slick
and smiling like a used car salesman.

Red, white and blue plastic flags
waved every time the doors exhaled,
shutting someone out.

I walked by them, on into the market,
smiling at the woman as I passed.
She gave a polite, automatic nod.

An echo of my mother’s voice said:
“Down in the mouth”, her old saying
about people in the 1930’s.

The son too, wore his mother’s depression
on his face, along with his embarrassment,
bitter gall lying just behind his lips,

waiting to spew the wrath of his soul
at the first hint of provocation. The doors
whooshed again - swallowed them both.


Read more poems prompted by the photo at


13 comments:

  1. nice...love that you focused on the face in the pic and its expression over just the shoes...fine story telling as well...really enjoyed this...

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  2. you paint an image so strong with emotion of mother but especially son and then they are gone....great story...bkm

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  3. Wonderful play on the overall face in the picture. It's what I immediatly saw too, the shoes were just secondary after I stared at it a while. Great piece.

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  4. I don't know if this happened outside a Wal-Mart, but that's what came to mind as I read the poem.

    The son too, wore his mother’s depression
    on his face, along with his embarrassment,
    bitter gall lying just behind his lips,


    That for me was the most powerful stanza in a very well-crafted and moving poem. "Feeding the Machine" -- much meaning in that title, beyond the literal situation described in the narrative.

    David

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  5. Here is a snapshot of America. I feel sorry for that boy. Excellent title too.

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  6. "the doors exhaled..." This image is so, so good. Wish I'd thought of it.

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  7. AKA Tom Eliot:

    Some great images flowing from this poem.
    And even though the story telling is strong and vivid - i can feel your personality escaping through the lines some how.

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  8. 'The son too, wore his mother’s depression
    on his face, along with his embarrassment,
    bitter gall lying just behind his lips,'

    Such is the grasp of modern America, yet one that has rallied over the eons, held beyond the horizon's of our everyday worlds. Yet it's grasp has pulled so many beyond that horizon and into the depths of its world.

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  9. Startling imagery - most effective.
    I liked the personification of the automatic doors - I shall never look at them in the same way again.

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  10. The son too, wore his mother’s depression
    on his face, along with his embarrassment,
    bitter gall lying just behind his lips,

    Poor kid!

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  11. Human nature in a nutshell. Your powers of observation and ability to put into words what you observe are impressive.

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  12. I go along with Friko: Human nature in a nutshell puts it exactly. It's a perfect sketch - no, more than a sketch, a study - in what has gone wrong with our world, as applicable here as anywhere.

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