Shortnin’ Bread (take 2)

Posted: February 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

CONTEXT: February, 2012

So, yesterday I put up the first version of this piece that I wrote. It was dark… I mean really dark. There was some solid imagery, but it was very unfocused. It just didn’t work for me as a poem.

There was enough in there that I liked, that after letting it set for a bit, I decided to have another crack at it.

This version added a lot of stuff that stayed to the end. It focused partially on the baby angle, which in the end, I didn’t like. When you start by talking about babies and then switch to child abuse, it gives an idea of the TYPE of child abuse I was speaking about… which isn’t accurate.

The other thing is that with this version, the singing part stopped being Cramps-style and starting being more ‘children’s song’ style. That made me uncomfortable, because that meant I would have to actually sing for real in the poem. Not too much and it wasn’t too hard. The actual recipe gets added in this version, as well.

Funny though, because I just tossed out the original reason I was writing the poem in the first place.

    Shortnin’ Bread (take 2)

“Mama’s little baby
Loves shortnin’, shortnin'”
Start with a half cup of
Worth a bucket of mama’s love
And everything laid out
For you.
Smooth and rich,
Creamy and churned like a
Stomach turned at the
Thought of anything happening
To this bundle of joy.
Temporary royalty as caring
Mama & Papa
Serve and protect,
Trying to be everyone
And everywhere
Spread thin on toast
As baby spirals outwards,
Concentric circles of
Influence as the
World waits for its next
Victim – only waiting for

‘Mama’s little baby
Loves shortnin’ bread.”
Add a quarter cup of
Brown sugar
But the sweetness of adulthood
Turns bitter when applied
Too early.
Pulling a layer of childhood play
Off like a stubborn band-aid,
Ripping hair and skin
Leaving more pain than blood.
A spoonful of sugar not
For tooth rot but soul
As one sunny afternoon
Changes the course of
Mighty rivers,
Flooding valleys.
And who you might have been
Is stolen, dunked
And dissolved in sugar water
As even a nail
Will rot away
Left soaking
In a bottle of coke.

“Mama’s little baby
Loves shortnin’, shortnin'”
Mix in a cup of flour,
A bit at a time,
Otherwise it won’t mix
And will crumble to dust,
Flaking away your skin,
Hoping to moult and
Be born again, instead of
Leaving nothing but a
Faint residue of powder
And grease.
Trying to find a way to
Define yourself without
The wikipedia vandals
Writing over you
Again and again
Waking with skin
Tattooed by expectations
And abuse
Turning to concrete
Cracking in the hopes
Of letting that next
Growth through.

“Mama’s little baby
Loves shortnin’ bread'”
Every recipe yields a
Different result –
A little more sugar,
A little less flour
And at every turn you tweak
And test and turn a list of
Memories that total into you.
They are you
But none define you.
Victimized but not victim,
Bent not broken.
You are no more a victim
Than a cookie is flour –
Part of you but not your
Responsibility to excuse or
Explain – pulling layers off
But never reaching the
Heart of your manner.
Every apple has a core
And yours beats with the
Strength of life
And the pounding
Of blood behind
Eardrums and a
Pumping pulse of napalm
Heart burning bonfire
To burn off the rot.
With every beat of your heart
The darkness is pushed away
From where it can leave
More than surface scars.
A sparring partner
Shadow boxing past your
But you can choose the battle field.
It can never
Beat you, because
“Mama’s little baby

So this version found its purpose, but still wasn’t quite there. It found the format I was looking for and nailed the take away lines (the ending and the “you are no more a victim / Than a cookie is flour” line.

One more version.

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