Creamed Corn

I am the creamed corn of
Mathematical misadventure
Splayed on a plate
Next to toxic lettuce salad
Glowing in hazy, dim
Cafeteria light.
Tomatoes, like me,
Well past their prime numbers
Vulnerable green onions
Drowning in skunky salad dressing
I count the grids in the drop ceiling.
Similarly disheartened patrons
Pray the manager won’t
Extort them for full price.
Soggy buns work as jelly cushions for
Shoe-leather chicken sandwiches.
I feel myself drifting, spreading thin
While heat drains away
Sticking to the plate,
Licking some burger abomination
Like an annoying neighbor dog
Leaving slobbers on melted cheese.
Square. Round. Pi.
It’s a ratio used on these rations
Probably canned by a medieval monk
In the silence of night
During a locust plague
The usual, you know.
How many?
Should we use scientific notation?
How do you do that in Roman numerals?
Scathed by an errant fork
A fry meets its death
Three tables over.
No one comes to take pictures
Of the ketchup spatter.
Minus one.
Minus two.
A few are left in the basket.
Far less than my number of kernels.
Waiter! Bring the check

—H. Russell Smith