Ketchup makes bad fake blood
Because it doesn’t stir the right
Kind of horror or nervousness.
It’s too sweet looking and gooey.
The red it all wrong and dried it
Doesn’t leave that flat rust stain
But springy space age growths
That make cleaning the fiddley
Bits of the dispenser so annoying.
Except when you’re a kid, your
Need for gore is still untethered
Ready for grotesque glee anytime.
You’d think work would make me
Grow up, get jaded and grouchy
About the gallons of jiggly red stuff
Boredom is thick and blank but also
Energizing. Frantically I grasp at fun,
Arms of an eight year old at recess.
There’s some good shit in the fog to
Be honest. Secret truths, that glow
Warmly and disrespectful of the future.
Do you know that:
Ketchup shot in the ceiling’s just gonna
Stay there until the boss finally notices
After like a month;
Cooked ketchup on a flat top grill is still
Sometimes the packets come stuck in
clumps. You’d think it was ketchup
Leaking out, but surprisingly it’s
the glue from the box;
The bulk stuff comes in 7lb bags that
Wiggle when you throw them. Seriously,
It’s so weird everything comes in bags;
A lot of pregnant folks crave ketchup. I
Think it’s the salt, though it might be
That red is 100% not natural.
After a few hours, you can peel it off
Your work pants like puffy fabric paint
Or a cool dragon sticker.
When you return ketchup packets you didn’t use
We throw them out,
Even if we thank you for being so conscientious
And actually judge you for being gross.
Do you think Papa Heinz has ever picked it from his hair?
Maybe when his kids got rowdy, and no silver spoon could get them to behave.
Do you think life would be different if his heir had gotten to live in the White House?
Maybe the answer lies in how easy it was to forget that factoid.
Do you think I’m dumb for romanticizing the pain of surviving terrible jobs?
Maybe I will only accept answers written by ketchup squirt bottle.
Luis Brennan is a fast food worker and organizer in Portland Oregon. He’s a member of the Burgerville Workers Union and the Industrial Workers of the World. He writes most of his poems on lunch breaks or in the bathroom.