Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I'll take you over here
at the self-checkout
she said
I said okay
if you do it 
cuz I don't know how
to work it
never had the patience
to fool with the damn thing
and as we were standing there
this brother walks up
though you may prefer 
but that would be presumptuous
you don't know where the dude is from
could be African-British
or African-French
or African-African
I prefer brother 
like Whoopi Goldberg said
I'm not African-American
I'm just American
(maybe one day we'll grow up and get past
the disingenuous PC crap)
he asks the lady
who happens to be Hispanic
if they have any couscous 
and she wrinkles her nose
and says "koos koos"
what's that?
and the guy is at a loss to explain
having never encountered a supermarket employee
who didn't know what couscous was
and I say well it's a grain
and he says yeah that's it
and she is still saying
never heard of koos koos before
and I say do you have an ethnic foods section?
looking at the brother and hoping it's okay
to use the word ethnic
in front of him
and she says that would be aisle four
and he looks relieved
 never been to the middle-east
but I know what couscous is
having been around the block
 a time or three
 just gotta wonder about her
but maybe she will go home and tell her family
about the new word she learned today
and maybe they will look up its origin
and maybe they will even try it
and maybe
just maybe
the butterfly effect of that
will engender a little more understanding
among us
and bring the world together at last



  1. ha yes..i DO hope she's gonna try it... love me some good couscous...with chicken and...oh...hmmmmmm... food can build bridges-- and they're quite stable..

  2. hah, Timo! maybe that's all it takes, just a little more couscous.
    (i thought your poem was going in a whole nother direction based on the first line. maybe you should write that poem, too.) (wink!)

  3. ha. if only it would echo is def a huge part of understanding...
    and i have a hard time believing a supermarket employee did not know...but then we are ever slipping...

  4. CLAUDIA : Food can build bridges alright--but more often I think it's wine, etc.

    MARIAN: Yeah, and based on the first SIX lines, it could be very intriguing indeed. I knew I could rely on you to catch something like that!

    BRIAN: Education...and exposure to other are right, man.

  5. I liked the way this swiftly flew... esp the ending . Liked being in on the internal monologue.

  6. Exposures to other cultures is key. So often people are not interested to learn about others and that is a shame.

  7. What I like most about this is its sideways pop at the way PC has mangled our language and where that has gotten us. The scene itself is told well, and it would only have been a few years ago that this would have been really common here too.

  8. Every little helps towards understanding and acceptance - an illustrative tale.

  9. OMG, if I am ever faced with a self-checkout, I will be utterly clueless (I mean even more so than normally.) I so loved this poem because your awareness and sensitivity shine through, Timo.

  10. BUDDAH: Thanks, man. It's not often that I hear from The Buddah.

    AYALA: You said it.

    RUMOURSOFRHYME: You have touched on the integral theme of the poem. Good going.

    COLIN: Thanks, and so good to hear from you.

    SHERRY: Yeah, it only took me six years to learn how to use the self-serve gas pumps...ha ha.

    1. I STILL only go to We Serve. If they phase them out, I'm sunk but by then someone in charge will have relieved me of my drivers license anyway. Or my 1992 Toyota will croak - it and I are in a race right now.

  11. I absolutely Love this! I tend to wonder things like this too. Supermarkets can be such interesting places if you just open your eyes! I love the voice of this poem! :-)

  12. KATIE: Much appreciated. So nice to hear from you!

  13. Cous Cous ... kiss kiss ... meow ... :)

  14. Cous Cous ... Kiss Kiss ... meow ... :)

  15. __Cultures and ethnicities, should never be degraded or lost... but praised and valued; some day we may all look, and think alike... that would be the ultimate loss. Androids.

  16. i'm reading too fast today first I thought It was some NEW AGE word I haven't heard like NAMASTE..or something like that..but I know a knew dish wonder if my wife will make IT for It sounds pretty wiki at least..

    I do love the international flavor of the grocery stories where I nice to see a variety of the rednecks can get to looking all the same in my neighborhoodhehe..andyeah..i'm somewhat of a redneck too..I guess...haha...

  17. Oh indeed! Any opportunity for mutual understanding should be grasped with both hands. I firmly believe ignorance is a breeding ground for hatred. Your scene is so authentic - with the awkwardness of the three-way conversation, the internal monologue (Is it okay to use the word ethnic?) and the thought at the end: Will she see this as an opportunity to learn something new?

    Peace, Tim.

  18. I like your concept here, Timo, not that couscous will conquer hate and division, but that learning what we have to offer each other and what we can share is how we bridge the divide and learn to grow together instead of apart. I also like the way the poem starts, with the idea of help, of offering what costs nothing...answers, support, etc. Anyway, I love couscous--they sell it by the rice and bagged beans and stuff here, in various flavors, in case you ever want to find it in Oklahoma. ;_)

  19. Thanks every bodies for your wonderful comments! truly is one mind at a time, isn't it?

    HEDGEWITCH: Thanks for the tip--and I may do that one day if the local store is out of stock!

  20. Very cool possibility! Every moment and encounter helps. And the butterfly effect--well, you just never know which change will take us to where we want to go. I enjoyed the entire inner monologue as well as the plot line.

  21. Om shanti, shalom, salaam, peace, peace, peace.
    Please consider yourself officially invited to participate this year's 5th Annual Gratitude (word) Quilt. Instructions (it is very simple) and a link that explains the origin of the word quilt can be found at the top of my blog. In past years there have been participants from every continent except Antarctica. I hope you'll join us:-)

  22. food can be a social bridge... loved the poem...

  23. Couscous + butterfly effect may bring peace. Extraordinary, entertaining spin on the call for peace. Wonderful.

  24. Afraid to say "ethnic" ha ha. Oh, this was truly a joy to read. I could feel your hesitation, not wishing to offend by being PC - which is a bunch of crap. I'm not German-British-American for pete's sake! I always get nervous when I don't know if something is Japanese, Chinese, or Korean and say "Oriental" instead because I'm not sure if that covers all three or not! … (if you know, leave a reply here :)

    1. MARGARET: The politically correct term nowadays is "Asian"...if you use that, you've covered all the bases, I think!

  25. I also like the food angle, Tim ~

  26. I love this! It really is amazing to me how global we are in our everyday lives, yet we all still act like we're disconnected.

  27. Perhaps couscous is our peace food...Love your take on the challenge to write about peace.

  28. Ya never know what little gem will melt and change a heart, or bring together two or twenty-two . OR...what we and others might learn from any situation, glance, smile or word.

    It is not our job to KNOW...just to keep on doing. NOW I'M going to look up "couscous"!!!

  29. Great narrative of a moment captured and even better follow through. >KB

  30. I thought couscous had became standard food like pasta (we said macaroni when I was a kid).. or rice. isn't all food ethnic in reality... (here I think marshmallows and pancake syrup is ethnic food)---

  31. I loved every word of this - a great story poem, and I like the sly digs at political correctness, which has gone right over the top!

  32. Baby steps. Love the honest voice in this.

  33. First of all, I love couscous. It's positively delicious. More importantly, I'm glad you wrote this poem - maybe we'll all grow up is right!

  34. Funny little slice of life. I like it :)

  35. I like the rhythms of this, the staccato, the sway, the undulation of Walmart vernacular…a really nice read

  36. EARTHGIRL: Thanks...I like the way your comment slinks like a panther on a moonless night.