Baloney, poem by Thomas Alan Holmes



Usu­al­ly, when I com­mit to it,
I’ve bought pre-pack­aged, thick-sliced stuff
that has red plas­tic cas­ing around the edge.
I lay some slices down and take a table knife
I can wash in the sink
and cut the stuff in half, then notch
anoth­er cut cross-wise in the middle.
My fry­ing pan spit­ting hot, I pull
cold pink baloney from dan­gling cas­ing strands,
drop slices flat into the pan,
and run the cas­ing across my open mouth,
cor­ner to cor­ner, hooked in tongue curl,
savor­ing last cling­ing morsels.
Grease pops as I sear baloney edges,
notched to keep them flat
against siz­zle nested
between sea­soned meat and sea­soned iron,
baloney caramel and scorch,
until I can’t wait any more,
some­times not even long enough
to snug it into a biscuit
or a fold­ed slice of near-burnt toast.


Sit­ting in a two-door ’72 LTD Brougham
out­side a coun­ty grocery
in August, win­dows down,
heat shim­mer like blown puddles
on asphalt so hot I can smell it,
wet with sweat after driving
with one shoul­der hitched just so,
let­ting wind blow into my left sleeve
to make my shirt rip­ple flaglike,
open­ing white butcher’s paper
of fresh-sliced baloney from a hefty chubb,
store­brand white bread and an RC,
three dol­lars and change in my pocket
and no wor­ries about hav­ing enough
mon­ey to make it back home
once I find a rur­al route
busy enough to have a yel­low stripe,
delib­er­ate­ly a lit­tle lost,
I am.

taholmesThomas Alan Holmes, a mem­ber of the East Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty Eng­lish fac­ul­ty, lives in John­son City. Some of his work has appeared in Louisiana Lit­er­a­ture, Val­paraiso Poet­ry Review, Appalachi­an Her­itage, The Con­necti­cut Review, The Appalachi­an Jour­nal, North Amer­i­can Review, Stoneboat, The Flori­da Review, Blue Mesa Review, Pine Moun­tain Sand & Grav­el, Still: The Jour­nal, and The South­ern Poet­ry Anthol­o­gy Vol­ume VI: Ten­nessee, with poems forth­com­ing in Sem­i­nary Ridge Review and The World Is Charged: Poet­ic Engage­ments with Ger­ard Man­ley Hop­kins (Clem­son U P).

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Baloney, poem by Thomas Alan Holmes

  1. Michael Briggs says:

    There's noth­ing like "being delib­er­ate­ly a lit­tle lost" with such an evoca­tive piece of writ­ing. Alan, your poem reminds me of Williams' "Red Wheel­bar­row." So much depends upon the baloney in the red plas­tic cas­ing and the well-trav­eled coun­try road. Well done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.