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Tomato Poem

by Chris Sorrenti

I used to hate tomatoes
but had no reason to
slice it down to a food phobia
parents who forced me to eat
everything on my plate
“Don’t you know kids are starving in Korea?”
a peculiar neurosis brought on
by the sight of all those tiny seeds
or maybe subconsciously
the color reminded me
of the decades of scrapes and cuts
I’d have to endure
until finally accepting them
in my mouth

The process wasn’t made any easier
when Aunt Thelma
served me a tomato sandwich
on untoasted bread
and though I ate it with a smile
so as not be rude
I gagged inconspicuously
as every bite went down
the experience set me back
at least a dozen years

Labelled a fussy eater by my mother
of the war generation and rationing
and my dad
the only bread winner in those days
neither of whom had time
for revolutionary psychology
of teaching children to eat properly
by simply setting the imagination
of their appetites growing
through no forced feeding
rather eating by example
and enjoying

But in time
things take care of themselves
as the years progressed
I got tired of eating the same food
first it was spaghetti sauce
even a childhood favourite
when washed down with cola or ginger ale
and that led to pizza
wanting to impress a girl
"Who doesn’t like pizza???"
those tiny seeds giving me
the heebeegeebees all the way down
stepping stones to my final acceptance
of that red fruit or vegetable (?)

As good as they began to taste
in salads and casseroles
I still had to pretend the seeds weren’t there
but have come to accept them
especially when in middle age
I read that tomatoes are a sure bet
in preventing Cancer

Now I grow them in my back yard

 photo Joe and Lynes tomatoes September 2019 RED50.jpg

© 2010
Photo © 2019 by author

1,450 hits as of July 2020


Posted on 06/12/2010
Copyright © 2020 Chris Sorrenti

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by V. Blake on 06/12/10 at 06:56 PM

This is beautifully written, but I felt compelled to say that I can just hate tomatoes twice as much, in order to make up for your lapse.

Posted by Charlie Morgan on 06/12/10 at 07:56 PM

...chris, well-named and blamed nahahaha...i never saw such depth of a tomato as you give it...loved this. such a truth in many things, seeds and all. good 'un.

Posted by Linda Fuller on 06/12/10 at 10:23 PM

I bet the ones you're growing are infinitely better than the ones you hated. Your poem took me back to my own "clean your plate/starving children in fill-in-the-blank" childhood.

Posted by Don Matley on 06/12/10 at 11:20 PM

Dear Chris, I do hope you get professional help for yourself and your tomatoes. Loved the poem. I have 20 plants in my garden and if I get a bumper crop I will be glad to share. Loved hearing about Aunt Thelma. Nice flow to the poem. Like pouring out a can of crushed tomatoes. As a aside I think you need to add an "e" to the second last stanza. It must have fallen from the vine.

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 06/13/10 at 02:26 AM

With a pound of reality, an once of humor, a pinch of whimsy, and a tablespoon of creativity, you've served a poetic tomato dish quite appealing. (I have always loved a fresh tomato sandwich.)

Posted by Morgan D Hafele on 06/14/10 at 09:23 PM

fresh raw tomatoes i've been good with since forever, but when they're cooked i couldn't eat them for a long time. i remember as a little kid my dad made me eat peeled stewed tomatoes, i showed him by vomiting all over the dinner table. i have not eaten stewed tomatoes on their own since.

Posted by Joan Serratelli on 06/18/10 at 08:22 PM

I don't like tomatoes either, but I love the poem. Tomatoes are easy to grow.

Posted by Glenn Currier on 07/03/10 at 02:34 AM

Never have tomatoes been packed! - juicy yet poignant with personal history. How self-revelatory, brave, and mature. I relate in so many ways... even in the ability to look back on these events with serenity rather than loathing... Chis, so much of your work unabashedly tells us who you are without apology and without sugar. To me, that is a sign of a good poet. Thanks, my friend.

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