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American Life in Poetry

I love writing poems about the most ordinary of things, and was envious, indeed, when I found this one by Michael McFee, who lives in North Carolina. How I wish I’d written it.


How well its square

fit my palm, my mouth,

a toasty wafer slipped

onto the sick tongue

or into chicken soup,

each crisp saltine a tile

pierced with 13 holes

in rows of 3 and 2,

its edges perforated

like a postage stamp,

one of a shifting stack

sealed in wax paper

whose noisy opening

always signaled snack, 

peanut butter or cheese

thick inside Premiums,

the closest we ever got

to serving hors d’oeuvres:

the redneck’s hardtack,

the cracker’s cracker.

Poem copyright 2012 by Michael McFee from “That Was Oasis” (Carnegie Mellon University Press), and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by The Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


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