A Poem by EKS

An experimental prose poem about the life and times of a shopping list.


The Shopping List

   Call me proud, but I am from another generation: A time when old ladies went to the supermarkets daily.

Supermarkets: Diverse products, brands, and many tills, people standing in queues-- meeting points to discuss shopping and lives, friendly gossip and commiseration, laughs; one topic tumbling over and into another, with muzac tinkling in the background.

Back then, I was always at hand.
Later, when the children got older, and taller, they would be the ones to remove me from the cooler, then called the refrigerator.

But then they too got older, got married, had children; and I got converted-- they converted me into this intangible, baffling, crushing space.

What a misery. No one writes me anymore, or folds me in their warm palm until I am all wrinkly, soft, worn and furry.

Now, I burn these shoppers; and in so many ways. And have little of which to be proud.

Be honest with me. Don't you miss those queues when people discussed us, we lists-- the form taken to describe the purposes of all people and peoples?

At that time, I was more useful, because shoppers pictured me, held a writing stick to divine me as a divining rod seeks water, life's active father.

Back then, I made a real difference in their lives.
I would know who was coming for dinner, was ill, starting a diet; or if a newcomer had entered the household.

When was it that carrots worked well with cheese? Would you know?

And then I saw the times change, sparkling water become popular, and alternatives to sugar see the breakfast table.

Next came luxury dog food, ammonia-free hair colour, and wrinkle-free shirts.

The latter entering supermarkets brings to mind a time before markets became Super, or Smart.

Nowadays, if I am considered of any use, I am tapped on a glaring box; and then hidden from sight, under a table, or in a purse.

Didn't I use to be firm enough? I was never flighty or in a huff.

Hidden from view? I could do that, too.

Too desirable to be sent far, women would store me near their bellies.

Men mainly wore me on their hearts, certain ladies did that too, dividing parts.

But there were times it was fun to be forgotten among the jellies.

The Mistress would come home and find me on a sticky surface.

No longer hanging by her favourite magnet near the oven, she'd take me away, cross off a few items and praise me; for the mighty warrior I was.

My life is different now, but I am unchanged. I will never be indifferent. I will never be afraid.

If I am to be ended here, you can see that for some there will be fear; it will not be fair.

These days when something goes wrong I am tapped, tapped, tapped on my chamber door.

It is an horror; and the hour is come.

In a way I feel sorry for her.

She must be lonely without paper and pen, torn scraps; and the scratched out stickmen keeping count of her accounts.

Today she started her shopping list, for a huge party, I think. (Lists do think, hold the fort, and offer beauty for ashes.)

She squinted her eyes when she could imagine nothing more besides. And then the word, aubergine, was punched in, and inspired tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and red peppers.

Now she's off again, and a sea of ingredients have spilled onto the screen.

Cheese? Why not? A Mediterranean meal? No. There is soy sauce. Is this a newcomer, a relative, a friend?
What about the ice cream?

Where has The Mistress gone?

She used to secure me between her two mounds, and all eyes fell on me.
She was so thoughtful. She knew when I needed attention. That was then.

She is writing, well tapping, again.

Bread. All lists include bread.

Some people write staple, but once a picture showed staples for eating and staples for beating, or something like that.

The writer of that list had weak drawing skills, maybe he meant stay plus, not staplers.

Anyway, I could see he had passed his prime with a writing stick.

Sometimes I try to help, but no one will ever trust the opinion of a list who mourns his past. Other lists have reported the same phenomena; but too few of us to form a band.

I wish writers could be better friends with me.

Now she's off again. What's she writing? Where are we going? Oh, this is so dull.

Or is it? Is this a shop? Are we in a queue?
A queue. Yahoo. But no one is looking at me. Not even her.

She is more interested in a different list.
Inferior, of course: A bunch of numbers.
They call them code bars.
Those appear to be the latest fashion.
A craze.

I am acquainted with lottery forms, of course. They're less capable of having their say, though: They're forced to let just about anyone write on them, and always the same strokes; gives them a load of stress.

This lady's numbers list may be the same, 'cause her breathing is irregular.

Definitely not my usual hostess.

Now she's put me down, let me down?

What about our queue? The shopping? Where's she off to?

What's happening? Is this a market?
Am I the object for sale? If so, this is an unpleasant first.

I won't be in a position to choose my host. What if it's an auction? I don't like competition.

Where is the peace in that?
Peace is the natural state of a list.

The only advantage of the new tapping system has been that I can get back at people when I want.

It's not me: The times dictate it.
But, I always try to be helpful.

Like I said, they should ask my opinion.

Nowadays, I take my place, you see.

You have distracted me, all this sudden attention.

Someone is trying to put ME on the block.
Produce - aubergine, tomato, garlic, and parsley?
I see the inconvenience now; the utter invasion of privacy.

Now what? Ew, yuck. I hate water.
Am I going to be washed?

I've seen wash-up liquid, laundry liquid detergent, and liquid hand soap written on me.
Can they wash ME, too?

Is it a new feature of my form?

If so, it may be my end is near. How could it work?
Lists don't get laundered.

Maybe they're going to convert me again. I will sit tight, but not go in peace.

I should think of my good times, the good old days, as I would hear the old ladies call the past.

Oh no, she's coming again. I can't confirm her identity.
I can tell the difference after all this time, I believe that is what they call my life. Time.

There is a shadow over me. Is it life, or time, this shadow?

And then, I got a tap almost a slap.
Something's wrong.

Help? Is that what one says in this situation?

She's begun to use foul language, you see. You've heard it, I need not elaborate.

And now, what is she doing? Ouch!

Hey! The tapping was bad enough.

What are you doing? No, no, ahhh....aaaah...

That's it. It's over.
Sigh. I am tangible again, at last.
I warned that I would not go peacefully.
The converted really understand very little about the tangible.

------------------THE END---------------------

© 2020 EKS

Author's Note

I welcome your comments, including any formatting suggestions.

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I like the structure of this, it feels like thoughts are coming and going. I would just recommend spacing it out and maybe dividing it into sections to make it an easier read. Very good job!

Posted 3 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


3 Years Ago

What I would do is just try adding an extra space in the google/word doc itself. I'm not sure how we.. read more

3 Years Ago

I like the way it looks now though!

3 Years Ago

Thanks for your idea, and your compliment. I think I'll keep it this way.
It turned out like.. read more

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1 Review
Added on June 18, 2020
Last Updated on June 22, 2020
Tags: list, codebars, queues, ladies, rhyming, ideas, message, ages, personification



I wrote on and off after my husband introduced me to the idea. Only in the last four years have I made it a regular activity. This is the first writing group I have joined. I am not a very diplomati.. more..


A Story by EKS