It was midnight and raining when I found this green bell pepper under the bumper of a van on 12th and John. It sparkled with drops of water and looked fresh enough to float through the air in slow motion with other produce in a commercial for some invented health food item. When I picked it up, imagining how I would incorporate it in a stir fry, I found a red drinking straw sticking out of it, crusted with black stuff. My first thought was that it must have been used as a pipe, but there were no burnt spots or holes. I remembered the Tropicana commercial in which juice flows easily out of a straw stuck into an orange, and how frustrating it was, as a kid, to suck and suck and not even get air. I finally peeled the orange violently and ate its mushed insides. I thought of a line from a Ben Lerner poem: “It was when we tried to drink a straw through a straw that we learned our first lesson about form,” and decided someone stuck a straw into the pepper to avoid any unrealistic hope for orange juice.
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