“Capitalism” by Elaine Fowler Palencia

Elaine Fowler Palencia


Along the two-lane blacktops
of my childhood we stopped
to buy watermelons.
Mother thumped them,
listening for that deep, ripe sound. 
If she hesitated, the farmer
would take out his clasp knife,
cut a square plug for tasting,
offer it on the point of his knife.
She always bought the melon
he’d spoiled for us.

Later, a high school friend
who sold Bibles door-to-door
for spending money, said
he was sent out with these instructions:
“Don’t show them an unwrapped Bible.
Hold up one wrapped in cellophane
and then rip that off.
It obligates them to buy.
They feel like they have no choice.
This works especially well
with the poor.”

from Rattle #72, Summer 2021
Tribute to Appalachian Poets


Elaine Fowler Palencia: “I grew up in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, the descendant of Appalachian farmers and teachers on both sides. Much of my writing draws on that background. I owe my sense of place, scale, and identity to Appalachia.” (web)

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