America the Beautiful by Kendra Tanacea

We’ve always been a sick nation
With our Jell-O molds and Watergate cakes
So before you break out your Tupperware
Mix in cream cheese and mandarin oranges
Suspend grapes or make Cool-Whip parfaits
We’ve always been a disgusting lot
Bringing Ambrosia to the Ladies’ Auxiliary
Crumbling potato sticks over tuna casseroles
I feel like dissolved gelatin in burgundy wine
Making three depressions in the cake mix
For oil, vinegar, vanilla
(I know guests will ask what gives this its zest)
Yes, every recipe has a secret ingredient
That je ne sais quoi
That makes everyone ooh and aah
This New Year while waiting for the ball
To drop in the Big Apple
I’ll have a vodka punch
Lime sherbet, frozen strawberries,
Fizzed with 7-Up
Chips with Lipton’s French onion dip
Presentation is everything
Beds of lettuce, doilies, little muffin cups
Oh, to be an American
A Baked Alaska
How can we singe the meringue dome
Under the highest heat
Without melting the ice cream



Kendra Tanacea, attorney, holds an MFA from Bennington College. Her collection of poetry, A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees, was published by Lost Horse Press in 2017. Her second book, Garbage Heart, was a semifinalist for The Elixir Press 17th Annual Poetry Award, the 2016 Wilder Series Poetry Book Prize, and the Washington Prize (Word Works Press). Kendra’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in North American Review, Poet Lore, Barely South Review, and Juked, among others. In March 2017, two of her poems were read by Garrison Keillor on his show, The Writer’s Almanac. Kendra attended the June 2016 Squaw Valley Community of Writers Poetry Workshop and the Bay Area writing workshops with Kim Addonizio.



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