by Tony Hoagland
The corn chip engineer gets a bright idea,
and talks to the corn chip executive
and six months later at the factory they begin subtracting
a few chips from every bag,
but they still call it on the outside wrapper,
The Big Grab,
so the concept of Big is quietly modified
to mean More or Less Large, or Only Slightly Less Big than Before.
Confucius said this would happen:
that language would be hijacked and twisted
by a couple of tricksters from the Business Department
and from then on words would get crookeder and crookeder
until no one would know how to build a staircase,
or to look at the teeth of a horse,
or when it is best to shut up.
We live in that time that he predicted.
Nothing means what it says,
and it says it all the time.
Out on route 28, the lights blaze all night
on a billboard of a beautiful girl
covered with melted cheese—
See how she beckons to the river of latenight cars;
See how the tipsy drivers swerve, under the breathalyzer moon!
We're in the wilderness now,
confused by the signs,
with a shortness of breath,
and that postmodern feeling of falling behind.
In a story whose beginning I must have missed,
without a name for the thing
I can barely comprehend I desire,
I speak these words that do not know
where they're going.
No wonder I want something more-or-less large,
and salty for lunch.
No wonder I stare into space while eating it.
Last updated October 26, 2018