Two poems by Michael Brosnan

Updated: Jul 21


Take the tuna salad, for instance.

The thin man in front of me in the midday line

at a Hell’s Kitchen deli orders it for lunch.

Tuna salad on a bulky roll with sesame seeds.

It comes with a pickle and chips and napkins.

A drink and cookie are extra. And I’m thinking,

Somewhere in the sea, a tuna had been blue-finning

along, content in the company of his glorious

scale-glistening Thunnini tribe. And even

if it didn’t have words for it, or any thought

with shape, the tuna can’t help but eye the baited hook

floating in liquid equilibrium, within such easy reach.

And I’m thinking of folks at the mayonnaise factory, too,

how they aim for the soft light at end of the workday,

tricking themselves into not tiring of jarring

the acrid slop into bottle after bottle. And there’s

the truck driver, too, alone in his long-haul rig,

delivering the cased condiment and canned fish

to this city deli where a young woman with tattoo sleeves

and a pierced tongue scoops the fish-slop onto a bulky roll,

cuts and wraps the sandwich and shoves it

with said pickle, chips, and napkins into a deli bag,

which at some point must have been breathing

the fecund air in a deep-rooted forest of quiet dignity.

And when she’s done, she turns to me, all business,

and says, Next.

I meet her eyes, then look at the menu,