Mudlark Flash No. 121 (2018)

Food Matters
by Abby Caplin

Ode to Health Nuts

You plastered shaving cuts,
carbuncles, and hernia scars
with vitamin E—
tore off hunks of aloe,
sucked the juice
until your intestines
spoke Spanish.

Your fridges sprouted
stainless steel bowls
of bubbling sour yogurt
and sauerkraut.
You ran circles
around tracks, around
your detractors, jumped jacks
with Jack LaLanne,
binged on shark cartilage to avoid
the “Big C”

until the world had a shark shortage.
But you swam your shark
laps to keep moving
to keep living,
and some of you even lived long enough
to watch your minds

Today I ponder my possible fate
dealt by online tarot decks
of genetic spread—
a Major Arcana of Alzheimer’s
and macular degeneration.
My kitchen drawers bulge
with magnesium, omega-3,
probiotics, and vitamin D,
laced with equal parts science
and hope.

All hail to you,
our prototypes, archetypes,
guinea pigs, and vanguards
on whose shoulders
we bless our nutrient-rich
kale smoothies,
farm-to-table boulangeries,
and locally roasted single-
origin coffees!
Farm to your mother,
your mouth

to me,
cow to carnivore
to quinoa to bean
soup, back to the woman
in the paisley shirt and bell-bottoms
rolling up her sleeves,
digging into her brown rice
and tofu dinner.

Beach Cafe

Here they serve
no decaf.
The wooden counter
feels sticky, the floor,
gritty, the walls
a dancing
collage of Day
of the Dead skeletons, cartoons
of Frida Kahlo,
and tacked-up quotes
from Thich Nhat Hanh.

The chalked menu offers
Dad’s Delirious Sangria
beneath a grim
and grimy pink-
veloured plaster Buddha
trying to meditate.

I order herbal tea,
note the brown
stain just below
the lip of cup as I dunk
my peppermint bag.
Customers who’ve gone
to “wash their hands”
in the single restroom
emerge flustered,
undone by the sliding
toilet seat and piles
of refuse—

the only clean things
in this blue-walled establishment
are the overturned
wine goblets sparkling
over the bar,
and the stiff plastic straws

sheathed in paper,
jammed into a dented
coffee can

that reads: “Drink Your Karma.”

Abby Caplin’s poems have appeared in Alyss, apt, Burningword, Canary, Catamaran, Crack the Spine, Dunes Review, Forge, McNeese, Poetica, TSR: The Southampton Review, These Fragile Lilacs, Third Wednesday, and Tikkun among others. The Poets 11 Anthology 2016, edited by Jack Hirshman and published by the Friends of the San Francisco Library, includes poems of hers too. She is a physician and practices Mind-Body medicine in San Francisco. Her website is

Copyright © Mudlark 2018
Mudlark Flashes | Home Page