The Smoking Carnivore

Dr. Maya Angelou
I couldn’t resist one more post about Dr. Angelou.  Her charm and wit have captivated me for years and I feel compelled to share her insightful work with my fellows.  This poem was written following an experience she had while visiting a local health food store.  The store had a small diner that served the usual healthy dishes, but Dr. Angelou noticed that she rarely noticed anyone smiling in the health food store, especially her waitress on this occasion.

She was so moved by the results of fanaticism – even though it was in relation to supposedly healthy things – that she wrote this pleasant and humorous little poem called “The Health Food Diner.”

No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).

Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I’m dreaming of a roast).

Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).

No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run


Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).

Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.

If you’ve been “thinned by anxious zeal” at times in your life this poem is probably worth re-reading.  Fanaticism with respect to anything quickly erodes the experience of life.  Look at any example of extreme nationalism or perhaps the more dogmatic branches of religion and you see that zealotry constrains to hatred, isolationism and self-destruction.

On occasion you might benefit from letting your karma run over your dogma.  Even if all that you get out of it is a good start to a country song, it’s better than the alternative.  Loosen up a little, try something new.  Do the little things in your day slightly out of order or with a different hand.  Treat those around you with a new and genuine deference.  Do anything to limber up the tense and rigid areas in your mind and heart so that life can again course through your veins without constriction.

Wellbeing is not a static state obtained through steely determination.  True health is the result of constant adjustment, continual adaptation to the circumstances at hand.  It is not a fixed and rigid place devoid of pleasure.  Neither is it achieved through gluttony and hedonism.  Wellbeing is found not at the extremes, but somewhere in the middle.

One thought on “The Smoking Carnivore

  1. Lara Mealor

    Love it! Thanks for the humor this morning. Our attitudes can create more toxins than the substances we try to avoid! Love the title, I didn’t know what to expect. I am hungry now for steak and eggs!


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