Archive for July, 2009

My Life History In Tomatoes

July 13, 2009

By Kerry Vincent © 2009


 At Uncle John and Aunt Lillian’s farm, in the breezeway,

An army of tomatoes marches across the big picnic table,

Shored up on the south end by great logs of zucchinis and cucumbers,

Bordered on the north end by a mountain of sweet corn still in the husk.

All is hot, steamy, and still, except for the buzzing of the flies and gnats,

And sometimes the loud banging of the red screen door.

Just down the hill, sprawling in the garden,

A forest of Big Boy tomatoes grow.

In the evening we pick another batch of ripe red orbs.

I dust off a ruby beauty, still warm from the sun,

as big as my face, and bite hard into the firm flesh,

its life juice running down my cheeks and neck

nourishing my blood and bones.


 I just wanna serve the Lord,

Help the poor, feed the hungry,

So I join this inner city ministry

Run by a power-hungry madman,

Where we freeze in the winter

And rarely have enough food to eat.

We pray to the Lord for our daily bread:

As a charity, on good days,

We get the food no one else wants:

Dented and unmarked canned goods,

week-old bread, just starting to mold,

Dairy products just beyond the expiration date,

Half-rotted produce left from the farmer’s market,

Soybeans and millet from an animal feed store,

Not meant for human consumption.

When I am pregnant, and visit my mom,

She asks what I crave, and I say,

“Fresh fruit and vegetables.”

She makes me a veggie sandwich,

With lettuce, glorious farm tomatoes,

Cucumber slices, cheese, and fresh bread,

Still spongy and springy to the touch:

Heaven on earth.


Now I am the mother, escaped from the cult,

Now raising my own kids.

My mom has moved to Uncle John’s farm,

Caring for him since Aunt Lillian died.

The kids and I visit in the summer,

timing our vacation around tomato season,

so the children can help bring in the crops

and can the goodness.

When mom visits a few weeks later,

She lugs a heavy suitcase from the train,

Unzips it to reveal precious produce:

Prized farm tomatoes, peppers, carrots:

We feast!


I’m in my cabin in the woods,

Re-writing my novel,

The expose of the cult,

The guest of a lovely retired couple.

They respect my privacy, let me write,

Only knock on the door to bring me

A ripe tomato to go with my supper,

Fresh from their own garden:

A gift of kindness and goodness,

Deeply appreciated.


I’m divorced, re-partnered;

The kids left the nest long ago;

Mom has since had a stroke.

I work as a technical writer

And dream of writing novels again someday.

I bought membership in a community share agriculture farm,

But I don’t get home from work in time to pick up my produce.

Maybe, when the tomatoes come in, I will make the time to go,

So that once more I can taste the richness of the soil

In the ripeness of a juicy red tomato, the earth’s own life blood.

…Summer is not over – there’s still time…


Stream of Unconsciousness

July 13, 2009

(response to a prompt on what inspires me)
A Stream on Unconsciousness (In response to What inspires you? prompt)
with 6 comments

I want to know why and what if and how and where and when and if you don’t give me the answers I will make them up I make stories to give meaning to this life because it would just be a cruel joke to be here floating in this metaphysical soup if there is no point no purpose no reason for being but maybe that is the reason that there is no reason but I’d rather pretend there’s a reason and a plot because I know my life is full of complex characters like my family or origin and trying to figure them out and me out is enough to force my pen to the page where I can put my thoughts on paper and then I can tear up the paper and throw it away no one gets hurt but if it’s a really good line I might copy it out and use it somewhere else because you hate to waste a good line and often that’s how you get the good stuff by letting your mind wander in bad neighborhoods and turning off your internal editor and telling her to go take a break so you can just write without worrying about spelling and syntax and just let an idea be lit on fire to brighten the world because it’s too dark and scary to be alone and afraid and sometimes the only jokes you hear are the ones you tell yourself and if you aren’t listening then where does the laughter go going round and round the mulberry bush ashes ashes all fall down anyone lived in a pretty how town in a sepulcher by the sea me and my Annabelle Lee fog sits on little cat feet and then moves on and on and so it goes breathe in breathe out that’s what it’s all about
by Kerry VIncent

Stranger than fiction – true stories

July 13, 2009

Stranger than Fiction
with 3 comments

(These are all true neighborhood scenes I or a friend has experienced over the years. I don’t know the back stories.)
Small town USA, this week – A young woman is pushing a baby stroller up the street. It is filled with all her earthly belongings. Atop the stroller is a cage in which rides a big white goose, loudly honking. A few feet behind her, a 4-year-old boy with dark curly hair shoved under a baseball cap follows, crying.
• * * * Another small town scene: I go to visit a friend who’s dad does the occasional circus gig, playing a clown, riding a unicycle. Today, he’s in the backyard, wearing just his underwear, juggling fire.

In an American city in the 1970s, when I was 18-22 years old, trying to ‘serve the Lord’ in an inner city ministry:
• * * * *
I enter the apartment and suddenly I know what my mom meant when she used the term “flop house”. There are mattresses flopped all over the floors, with alcoholics lying on them, snoring, belching, farting. I’ve come to pick up Betty for a church meeting. Her husband Bill says he can’t go, he fell on the ice and broke his ankle. Betty says, “Bill got fallin’down drunk and is goin’ to hell.” But Betty should have moved out of reach before she said that – Bill whacks her with his crutch.
• * * * *
I am in the bad part of the city, handing out free loaves of bread to the poor. I enter one house. The only furniture is a urine-stained mattress on the floor, and an extra large rubber trash can, right in the center of the living room. I offer them bread – they ask for money instead.

• * * * *
I am new to the city, new to City Hospital. I ask for directions to the emergency room. I am told, “Just follow that trail of blood drops.”

• * * * *
I go to visit an elderly lady. She shows me her bird. There are cockroaches crawling in the liner papers. Mabel doesn’t seem to notice, or maybe with her cataracts, she can’t see the bugs. “Pretty bird, pretty bird,” she coos.
• * * * *
• I am in a church meeting. It is hot summer. One of the guests can’t take the heat any longer. She peels off her girdle, puts it in a paper bag, and passes it down the aisle for me to hold until the service is over.
One night at the church service, Betty passes me a scribbled note – it says, when Bill & I are having oral sex, he wants me to swallow. I don’t like it. What would God have me do?