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Abecedarian Yellow

By Dan Vera

A is for apple.

B is for banana – treasure fruit of the tropics

which replaced the apple on the breakfast table of Victorian America.

C is for Carmen Miranda smiling

from the label of the bunch of bananas.

D is for drugs to disrupt nature's cycle,

for longevity to cut and ship and freight by steamship

a green banana to the market and your table.

E is for ethylene gas, which is what the drugs suppress in fruit,

for longevity to cut and ship and freight by steamship

a green banana to the market and your table.

F is for fruit, obviously.

G is for Guatemala.

H is for Honduras,

or H could be for O. Henry who gave them a name:

“banana republics” — governments ruled by giant fruit companies

like Dole and United Fruit through American intervention.

Yes, I is for intervention. Are you still with me?

J is for junta, with an h-like j from the Spanish,

as in “military junta” set up by intervention to sustain control

and ensure cheap labor in countries like Honduras and Guatemala

so that bananas can get to your table cheaper

than an apple which grows in your yard.

K is for kitchen — your kitchen,

where history and blood commingle each morning

in the green curve of an L-shaped fruit

from countries with Monoculture agriculture,

which is nuts.

N is for nuts, because we've been through this before,

Over and over again.

P is for “Panama disease,” which wiped out

the last variety of shippable banana in the 1950s

and may soon wipe out our current one.

¿Que? ¿Que?

R is for ripe.

S is for surprise!

T is for trouble—

Undeniable trouble.

V is for Victoria—Queen Victoria who died in 1901—

we've been at this that long with bananas.

W is for wrapping up,

X is for eXtinction of a species of yellow fruit

or berry, depending on your view.

Y is for yellow and

Z is for zed

which signifies end.

Added: Thursday, January 18, 2018  /  From "Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology" (University of Georgia Press, 2018). Used with permission.
Dan Vera

Dan Vera, Split This Rock Board Chair, is a writer, editor, and literary historian living in Washington, DC. He is the author of the two poetry collections Speaking Wiri Wiri (Red Hen, 2013), inaugural winner of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, and The Space Between Our Danger and Delight (Beothuk Books, 2008). His poetry has appeared in various journals including Notre Dame Review, Beltway Poetry, Delaware Poetry Review, Gargoyle, and Little Patuxent Review, the anthologies Divining Divas, Full Moon On K Street, and DC Poets Against the War. He edits the gay culture journal White Crane and co-created the literary history site, DC Writers’ Homes. The recipient of the 2017 Oscar Wilde Award for Poetry and the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, he’s the co-editor of Imaniman: Poets Writing in The Anzaldúan Borderlands (Aunt Lute Books). For more, visit his website.

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