Why My Mother Bought Five Alive

  1. It’s possible that we were poor at the time. We were never poor poor, but
    I do remember a period of reduced-price lunch tickets and powdered milk.
    So it may be that Five Alive time coincided with that time. Between jobs.
    I seem to recall that she was apologetic, ashamed about the non-juice juice.
    If that’s the case, she shouldn’t have been. But there’s nothing I can tell her now.
  2. Maybe people were less discerning back then. I see that Five Alive had
    60% real juice and 100% refreshment. That doesn’t sound too bad.
    In another few years, Sunny Delight would come along and try to
    convince people that it, too, was juice, and that cool kids in sunglasses
    were all-fired desperate for Sunny D offered by the coolest of moms.
  3. Moms aren’t really cool. (I am one.) Sometimes, we get frustrated, and
    if these damn kids think I’m going to pay real orange juice money
    day after day to fill their glass so they can sit there, letting it get warm,
    or gulp it down in three seconds and never once say, Wow, Mom!
    Thank you for serving us real orange juice, well then. We’ll just see.
  4. Because she had a 30₵ coupon, and that’s not nothing, you know?
    It expired in 1980, at the very end of that year. Where were we then?
    Thief River Falls, Minnesota, my father out of work. That brings me
    back to No. 1 on this list. I don’t know if everyone associated
    Five Alive with poverty, but I know I got that idea from somewhere.
  5. Come on now — it was the ’70s (or 1980, as I’ve said). Everything
    was about 60% real, and no one cared, unless you went in the other
    direction — macrobiotics and all of that. A lot of us drank Hi-C
    after school, from a giant tin can with triangles punched in the lid.
    A lot of us drank Five Alive in the morning, before we left our mothers.

    Today’s prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads was to write a list poem that involves “five.” I swear that mine had carefully considered line breaks, but you won’t see them because WordPress is confused by poems with long lines. Just trust me.

    No automatic alt text available.
    (Posted by another member of a Facebook group called Off the Rack – Retail Memories. I’m going to assume that Snow Crop doesn’t care.)



For breakfast that day, I had scrambled eggs
and wrath,
stirring so vigorously, I sprained my wrist.
I ate my portion and threw the rest away,
even though he was sitting there,
hungry and waiting.

Today’s prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads was to write about one of the seven deadly sins or seven heavenly virtues.



Instead of writing a poem,
I shop for dresses —
scrolling through so many
possible new selves
(30% off, plus $20 coupon).

Today’s optional prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads was to write a Twitter poem, meaning 140 characters or less. This one is 122. And here is what the title references, which I mention not to commingle art and commerce, but so you’ll know just what kind of rabbit hole I find myself in today.


Your Mind Goes Down Mazes

When you wake up in the morning
with dread of a house you don’t own
your key stuck in a gummed-up lock
and a memory of 4:00 a.m.,
on your own porch, no one else
awake yet, maybe some birds, maybe
How are you on your porch
in your pajamas, and no one there
to let you in?
Your mind goes down mazes:
Where did you make a wrong turn?
And where, where is it
that you’re supposed to be instead?

Today’s prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads was to write about the mind.


Dandelion, Regardless

A fresh and vigorous weed
introduced for food and medicine
invasive or welcome (an ongoing debate)
nectar for early bees, smell of sunshine,
a blazing path that leads endlessly on.
Leaves like flags that say: Victory!
Regardless of everything, I am here.
Today’s prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads was to write a poem based on any of several quotes by poets born in April. I chose this one:

“A fresh and vigorous weed, always renewed and renewing, it will cut its wondrous way through rubbish and rubble.” — William Jay Smith



The naked mole rat
was born to be a person,
but it was too beautiful,
shocking the stars into silence
(they used to sing)

and causing the sun’s great factories
to grind to a halt. They remain halted
even though the naked mole rat

was banished years ago,
by the queen of all things, to live
largely unseen, underground.

All hail the queen. Yes, all hail her now —
she has dispatched her competition
in loveliness, that she may reign.

Today’s prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads was to write a myth about an animal.


903 N. Knight

Shortly before we moved away, the Ben Franklin store burned down.
Is it possible that I saw, in the ashes, a single cut-glass punch bowl
as if still on display? Is it possible that I saw this from the car window
as we left for Dayton, Ohio (the last move before the last one)?
The road out of town took us past that Ben Franklin store, and also past
my elementary school: Northrop, now torn down, from what I hear.
Still standing is the Rusty Nail: a bar, or a lounge downtown
that my parents whispered about. Am I right that there was a murder?
There was something unsavory,  I know, and highly unusual for
Thief River Falls, Minnesota — this was years before the Coen brothers
punched a big hole in the folksiness of Fargo and towns for miles around.
I know there’s still a Rusty Nail because (get this!) I’m Facebook friends
with a total stranger who lived in our house before we lived in our house —
her parents sold 903 N. Knight to mine. Imagine! What a gift, not to lose places.
What a gift, when you only lived there for two years, but can still smell
the dusty screen door at Erl’s, where your smaller self bought
Archie comics and candy wax pop bottles, never dreaming it wasn’t
forever — never dreaming just how soon you’d be gone.

I regret that this one will almost certainly not present how I intended because it needed to be in long lines, which my WordPress theme haaaaaaaaates. Anyway, today’s prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads was to write a poem that incorporates names of some places you’ve loved — inspired by the Canadian poet Al Purdy.