“School Cafeteria” (Breaking of Ice Cream Bar)


School Cafeteria

In the jimjam
din and smell,
he stood up
to peel the chocolate shell
off of his ice cream bar,
to squeeze on
mustard, layering the chocolate
back, the mucked and barked
vanilla gooing as if
it bled, pussed,
or stuck
its tongue out–then
bit down.  A boy,
he was,
who needed attention.


I am posting the above (based on a memory from first grade) for dVerse Poets Pub’s Poetics Challenge on Foodloose – hosted by the wonderful Claudia Schoenfeld.  Sorry that it’s a bit less than appetizing! 

Check out the great poets at dVerse.  Also, if you have time this Columbus Day weekend – check out my books! Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents!

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28 Comments on ““School Cafeteria” (Breaking of Ice Cream Bar)”

  1. Mary Says:

    Wow, this experience really must have made an impression on you…for you to remember it from first grade. Being the devil’s advocate, however, perhaps he might have been one of those kids who puts ketchup on everything?

  2. What a mish mash of flavors and yes, probably a boy who needed attention. Beautifully done!

  3. Attention?? I think he needs medication! Well, no, maybe not. The mustard may have the desired effect. 🙂

  4. yuck, yuck, but well written and fun read!

  5. I couldn’t take ice cream like that ~ Vivid capture of someone needing attention then ~

  6. kaykuala Says:

    It stuck on you all these while! It was funny, may be distasteful. It was just yucky! Your memory and imagination is just fantastic. Nicely, K!


  7. brian miller Says:

    i know him..i have him or a few of hims in every class…and it makes me gag a bit to think of the taste of that…but he will smile and they will laugh….and he will like it though it is not meant that way…sad actually…i have one i take for a walk every morning to get his head screwed on straight…

  8. leahJlynn Says:

    I guess he did. That must have been one attention seeking boy, with much creativity too.

  9. Mohana Says:

    An awesome lot of tastes that must have been!

  10. ugh…our boys at school did this with chocolate marshmallows…inserted mustard through the bottom…but then gave it to someone else and laughed…his story makes me really sad for him…ugh..

  11. LOL! You’re scaring me. 🙂

  12. Imagine that hybrid flavour, …def attn seeker…probably has grown up into one of those poeple who like ketchup on everything….very well captured in your verse

  13. David King Says:

    mustard, layering the chocolate
    back, the mucked and barked
    vanilla gooing as if
    it bled, pussed,
    or stuck
    its tongue out

    This makes it all so vivid. Light and dark to this – as to the choccy bar.

  14. hedgewitch Says:

    Good grief! And I thought the kid who stuck french fries up his nose had issues. Great descriptive language here, k–makes for a real physical reaction/revulsion.

  15. janehewey Says:

    vividly blecky. mucked and barked vanilla gooing…. most excellent.

  16. Luke Prater Says:

    This is bloody marvellous. Poem of the week. I don’t say that very often. Less than once a week. It’s so visceral, visual, so disgusting, beautifully disgusting, so tactile, so of the senses in every way you could cram into a short poem. The pus and blood analogies are stunning. Aurally, this line is standout –

    back, the mucked and barked

    two top verbs there and kick-ass consonance… I can’t like this poem enough. It has such life. Energy. Words that evoke, provoke, arrest, disgust. For a memory, it’s more real than the real. This is the real deal. I knew you were good… you’re real good.. I don’t blow smoke, Karen… just publish this one

    (was he wanting attention though? Or did he have a revolting little boy preoccupation with trying anything that was vile?)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha! Luke, you are very sweet. I’ve had a very hard couple of days so your kind comment is especially appreciated, especially since I worried that the poem was awfully compressed but I didn’t feel like spelling too much out. (I had another one about food that I will post sometime that is much more sentimental, but I just wasn’t in mood for sentimental!)

      This particular boy seemed to me to be quite troubled. I don’t know what’s happened to him – I only remember his first name – but he had super shaved hair cut (at a time when that denoted something a bit different than today in terms of class issues) and, I remember, would sometimes pee in our classroom’s very teeny bathroom – we had one in the room since it was a lower grade – with the door open. When I think of this now, I wonder whether he wasn’t a little afraid of the small space – or maybe he himself kept the lights out. (I just have image of dark door.)

      I felt very sorry for him and I was a goodish samaritan back then so I must have tried to be kind, because I remember he wrote me a little card saying he wanted to marry me. (I think.) It was in that big geometric print that kids learning to write sometimes used, filling up the page.

      Then I remember him doing the ice cream business to the great horror of the other little kids. I perhaps should write something longer some time as he impressed me a fair amount, it seems. I have something coming to mind so maybe will try it.

      Anyway, much appreciate your comment, and glad you got through the compression of it. K.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        PS – a lot of little boys do have, as you say that revolting preconception of wanting to come up with blood and gore which is another reason I didn’t really want to bring in all the peeing in the doorway stuff. Another, longer, poem, maybe. k.

  17. Sabio Lantz Says:

    Where is the jimjam? In school — why did he have to stand up? pus? bleeding?
    All this with a beautiful ice bar in your fine drawing.
    Sorry, I don’t get it at all.
    Can I have a hint please! [I am following]

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Sabio – I made a comment to Luke Prater about the longer incident – which you might look at if interested. I’m sorry it is a very compressed poem. The jimjam is in the school cafeteria – he stood up really to make a show of himself, to perform. He was in fact a fairly troubled kid, and the image of the ketchup and mustard doing all that stuff including sticking of tongue out (and bleeding etc) meant to somehow be symbolic of that. And also generally of the guts and gore that little boys sometimes tend to like. So, in this case, he was troubled, but often little kids like attention, or NEED attention, so it is meant to illustrate that type of scene.

      I’m glad you liked ice cream bar – I didn’t want to make it too visceral! Ha. k.

  18. Sabio Lantz Says:

    Thank k.
    That helped a great deal. Yeah, it was a bit compressed for those of us lacking in psychic powers (or poetry acumen) to understand some of it. But now it is rich for me, after some background. Loved Luke Prater’s eval!
    Have a better week!

  19. Ewwwww! Yep, definitely sounds like looking for attention. What a waste of good ice cream! I guess sometimes it’s anything to see and be seen in the cafeteria “law of the jungle”. So glad I’m not there anymore!

  20. Mama Zen Says:

    Oh, nasty! I’d remember that, too.

  21. dani Says:

    eeeeewwwww! definitely in need of attention!

  22. Kim Nelson Says:

    Oh, I knew a few kids like that. They are the same ones mixing together every available drink and slamming it back in college. Boys are funny creatures.

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