Cream of Mushroom
If my mother had written a cookbook when I was a boy
it might have begun, Open a can of cream of mushroom soup…
Money was often tight and food is where our budget stretched.
…Boil a batch of noodles. Fry some ground chuck. Mix ‘em up.
Meals began in cans. Beans, tuna, Spam. Packed with vitamins!
But not that orange spaghetti. Civilized people don’t eat that stuff.
If I complained, Dad didn’t whip me with the starving kids
in Asia routine, though he saw his fair share in the Korean War.
Instead, he taught me how to use the Army-issue P-38 can opener
that hung on a chain with the dog tags he still wore around his neck.
Mom ginned up a scheme to feed a family of four for just a dollar.
There were only the three of us so we were always ahead of the game.
And here’s the thing: It saved enough money to keep us in books.
Used books. Library book sale books. Food for thought, Mom called it.
Brian Kates holds a Pulitzer Prize and a George Polk Award among other journalism honours. His book, The Murder of a Shopping Bag Lady, was a finalist for Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award in non-fiction. His poetry has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Paterson Literary Review, Third Wednesday, Common Ground Review, Banyan Review and other journals. He was a Best of the Net nominee in 2021 and 2022. He lives with his wife in a house in the woods in the lower Hudson Valley.
The Ekphrastic Review
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