Thomas M. McDade

Ham Salad Geometry

Never had any as a kid, tuna the only salad
ever spread twixt Tip Top or Wonder slices.
The ham variety debuted by way of the USS
Mullinnix. No mess decks fare, rather
a Navy Exchange Mobile Canteen choice.
The Messenger of the Watch passed
the word: “Roach Coach now on the pier.”
(The treat was available in vending
machines stationed in kiosks too.)
The cellophane wrapped sandwiches
sat one half-triangle upon the other,
both cardboard buttressed.
If a shrink used several for a variation
of a Rorschach test, might have heard:
white caps, sails, cogs, pyramids,
mountain crests, cartoon dinosaur
molars or hats a crafty kid styled.
A mighty slim layer of minced
ham among hints of celery and onion
lived between those pallid covers
that could never hint an Easter meal,
yet addictive to this young gob.
If a 96 hour liberty
found me via Greyhound in NYC,
I’d hit a Horn & Hardart Automat,
Broadway or Forty-Second version
passable but not quite up to snuff
and ditto for the obtuse isosceles
at return trip rest stops,
such as Wilmington Delaware.
Later in life, I kicked the meat habit.
Hummus at times, the shade of my old
tri-cornered snack offered a weak
recall but no vision of a choppy sea
ensued in that desert of floppily
textured pita bread, no matter how
well braced, sliced or folded.


Thomas M. McDade is a 73-year-old resident in Fredericksburg, VA, previously CT & RI. He is a graduate of Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT. McDade is twice a U.S. Navy Veteran serving ashore at the Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center, Virginia Beach, VA and at sea aboard the USS Mullinnix (DD-944) and USS Miller (DE/FF 1091). His poem “John So Sane” was published in Reuben’s Kincaid in 2003.