Features, Poems

Dorothea Lasky: “Diet Mountain Dew”

medium_3492598423Since I was a little girl, Diet Mountain Dew has been my favorite drink. I think I was first attracted to it by its glowing green (it is almost the exact color of early July glowworms) and its off-putting not-totally citrus, but not-not-citrus, taste.

Contrary to what some people might tell you, Diet Mountain Dew can be thirst-quenching. As a teenager, I ran insane amounts of miles in the St. Louis humid heat and towards the last few miles I would be dreaming of the cold can of Diet Mountain Dew I could pop open as soon as I got home. Even though it can’t be true, the taste of Diet Mountain Dew was more vital to me in those hot days than water. Back then Diet Mountain Dew was all about desire. Diet Mountain Dew said, “If you work hard you will be rewarded, and thank you.”

When I drink Diet Mountain Dew as an adult, it makes me feel like I can see through walls and like for about 90 minutes after enjoying a tall glass, I have that blissed out feeling like the world is supernatural and is all mine to experience. I like regular Mountain Dew as well, but its high sugar content makes a kind of more mellow high and then a horrible crash.  Diet Mountain Dew keeps you going until you really can’t go anymore. I write so many things after downing a couple of cans of Dew and then for hours afterwards, after I have thought all there is to think, it’s like my brain has an empty space in it that only dreams can fill.

I wrote this poem, a love poem for this exquisite soda, one day during a class I was teaching. One of my undergraduate students gave us a prompt to write about something real at home we could imagine clearly in very short, clipping lines. Above all my coveted objects, I only thought of this love elixir and Walt Whitman. That semester I was teaching an insane amount of classes and traveling an even more insane amount of miles a week to get to them. I was exhausted at absolutely every moment. Diet Mountain Dew said to me, “If you work hard, you will be rewarded.” And I was. So, thank you, sweet soda. (Lasky)

 

Diet Mountain Dew

Something that I have
Thought of recently
Was my Diet Mountain Dew
Bottle in the kitchen refrigerator
I would like to be
Home
I would like to go
Home and to the places
Where people like me
It is really hard to
Keep the output
At an input
I go
And no one gives
A shit
All they want
Is the gift
Without even knowing
All the Diet Mountain Dew
That went into it
I go and people
Just listlessly want
Others to do it
For them
I ain’t doing
Nothing anymore
For no one
Yeah that’s right
I am going to show
This world
Exactly what it gave me
Which is strawberries
Which are the lilacs
Blooming round
The courtyard
Of the building
Where I catch my car
To go
I wear
A yellow dress

toiletDorothea Lasky is the author of four full­-length collections of poetry: ROME (Liveright/W.W. Norton), as well as Thunderbird, Black Life, and AWE, all out from Wave Books. She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project, from Ugly Duckling Presse. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Poetry at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and lives in New York City.

Listen to Dorothea Lasky read “Diet Mountain Dew” as part of her conversation with Ed Skoog in The Subvocal Zoo: Episode 3. More work from Dorothea Lasky appears in the Summer & Fall 2014 issue of Poetry Northwest.

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc