Issue 14
King Vitamin

George Mann, ex-vaudevillian,
resurfaced in the 70s to fame
as “King Vitaman,” a cereal mascot, posed
with grey sideburns and fuzzy eyebrows,

donning a crown of golden spoons
and a checkered red/white bib.
And struck an august countenance, nodding
to the slogan bannered beside him:
Tasty little crowns – kids love ‘em!

Of all the senseless packaging
I shelved for two years on aisle eight
of Gibb’s Food Mart, King Vitaman
caused a little quake
up the spine to my brain.

What do you want to do with your life?
asked Cherié, the prettiest checker,
after she’d kissed me in the stockroom.
A sort of test, by which
I blushed and felt ridiculous
wearing an apron, swishing a feather duster
for a buck twenty while my buddies
learned construction or drove truck.

I stammered how I didn’t want to grow old
with King Vitaman’s sad old face.
Or his silly name.
It was our first and last kiss.

Mann died 1977, age 71. A short reign.
Cases and cases of the King’s smiling gaze
kept arriving just the same.