KATIE KEMPLE

Recycling died, like Santa and God
and the United States of America.

In the 80s, Coke was king and recycling its gentle enabler. And so, it felt like the last myth of my youth broke open as I read an article recently revealing that plastic in the U.S. has never been effectively recycled. Those green arrows were a brilliant visual for a system that didn’t exist. For me, this sparked connections to our culture of creation and consumption.

A lifetime of plastic bottles and the notes I’d left,
all in the Pacific garbage patch, a triangle
of patriarchal green, the arrows a circle-jerk.
My love letter to the earth, laughed at.
Santa’s a kind of consumer god drinking a Coke.
He brought us plastics to fill our throats. Even
the school play used plastic particles in place
of snow. And it was beautiful. Santa took his
synthetic beard off, and I prepared to become
an adult in the church. For confirmation,
I attended the mass of the unborn children.
But if heaven before life, why not joy for a soul
to arrive back home with God? That’s recycling.
Men in long dresses talked about the host,
the Holy Ghost, and the Virgin Mary. Women
were Coke machines. And that was the perfect
scheme. Body coin-opping new disposable life.

Katie Kemple’s work can also be found online in the following journals: Rattle, Rust + Moth, SOFTBLOW, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Whale Road Review.

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