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The Ice Cream Jingle, a Narrative Poem

Mark Tulin is a baseball fan from Philadelphia, PA. He has four books of poetry and one short story collection, available on Amazon.

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Food and Childhood Memories

I have a slew of food memories growing up in Pennsylvania. I loved eating Coney Island chili dogs with my Aunt Marion. My friends and I bought countless bags of soft pretzels from the street vendors in Philly. Those cheesesteaks with grilled onions were a favorite of mine when I watched a Sixers' game on my black and white TV. Every Sunday morning, I went with my father to the Jewish Deli to pick up some lean corn beef, bagels, and rye bread that felt sort of like a religious experience. But perhaps it was the soft serve ice cream truck and its jingle that elicits my fondest memories of childhood. Please enjoy The Ice Cream Jingle.

The Ice Cream Jingle, a Narrative Poem

It was the late 60s, a hot summer afternoon in Philly.
All the kids were huddled in my backyard pool
floating on a white walrus and shooting squirt guns,
swimming underwater like Jacques Cousteau.

As we splashed around in three feet of water
from a leaky garden hose,
we heard the jingle of an ice cream truck,
an alluring tinkle-tinkle driving down our city block.

“Here’s Mister Softee!” we all yelled in a sugary trance.
We leaped from the pool, pushing each other aside
for the last one there was a rotten egg,
hoping that the ice cream truck didn’t drive away.

Back then, we’d do anything for soft serve.
Loot our mother’s handbag.
Hijack a Brink’s truck.
Break our little sister’s piggy bank.

I was the first to the window after butting in line,
barefoot and shivering in my loose-fitting bathing suit.
I held the change in my wrinkled palms,
counting it over again, hoping it was enough.

My brain was numb; my hands were quivering.
I pointed to the picture on the side of the truck.
“The vanilla chocolate chip dip,” I barely said,
“with a rainbow sprinkle jubilee.”

The man pushed a lever on the silver machine
and calmly caught that vanilla swirl into a cone.
Without saying a word, he dipped it into the sprinkles
and some chocolate chips, a Rembrandt, an ice-cream masterpiece.

Sitting on the curb, I lapped up the creamy treat.
I didn’t speak to my friends or acknowledge my Mom
calling me to come in.
I didn’t know whether the pool was overflowing
from the leaky garden hose.
Just the ice cream jingle kept playing in my ear.

.


The Ice Cream Jingle by Mark Tulin

© 2018 Mark Tulin

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