Alan Balter


Eating Habits

Tomato sauce, I’m at a loss:
I simply don’t know why
It hardly ever, really never
Spots a worn-out tie.

But wear a new one, a costly blue one,
A fancy silken job—
If you’re like me, I guarantee
With gravy, you’re a slob.

Spicy mustard, chocolate custard,
Everybody knows
Never spill and never will
When you’re wearing your old clothes.

But brand-new pants don’t stand a chance
Hanging on your hips—
Melted cheese with shocking ease
Drips right off your lips.

So let’s suppose food really knows
When you’re dressed up fancy:
I’d still conclude that eating nude
Would be very chancy.

Alan Balter taught for 33 years at Chicago State University. He has published two nonfiction books on teaching, and two novels: Holden and Me (Rockway Press), for which he received their international fiction award in 2006, and Different Ways of Being (Linkville Press, 2013). His poetry has appeared in New York Literary Magazine, The Chicago Writers Association Magazine, Better than Starbucks, The Brushfire Literary Journal, and The Westward Quarterly, among others, and his poetry chapbook, Melancholia, was published by Kelsay Books. He and his wife, Barbara, also a retired teacher, live in Northbrook, Illinois. They enjoy extensive travel and 14 grandchildren.