I grew up with baloney.
I did not like baloney.
In summer, it sweated in wax paper sandwiches.
In winter, flecks of fat hardened in my lunch box.
Baloney is an afterthought, the remains of organs and trimmings
that are comminuted, reduced to minute particles
into the consistency of Elmer’s Wood Filler
with a scent like leathery wet work boots.
Ah, you say, you’re full of baloney, narrow-minded as a Democrat,
arrogant as a Republican. Wait. I have not gotten to taste.
Alone, baloney tastes like ambiguity,
the perilous fallacies of logic and rhetoric,
a simple fare of food that, alas, lacks common sense.
Thus, mustard stands at the ready to coat it and, on a kind day,
bring together conviction and compassion, strive to see
another’s point of view. Like a blender, mixing
sweet pickles, onion, mayo, and yes, more mustard.
Okay, there’s one hypothesis on baloney. Are there more?
Multiple working hypotheses have a better chance
of becoming the right answer than running with the first idea.
Okay, so what if another hypothesis touted the nutritional value of animal fat,
salt, nutmeg, coriander, allspice, celery seed, black pepper.
Another, artistic expressions in German baloney, mortadella, ring baloney, rag baloney.
Another, the human need for nostalgia, that hillbilly heaven in the mind.
And yes, let’s revisit You’re-full-of-baloney, an expression that really speaks
to fear–the fear hiding inside unreasonable beliefs
the likes of which we have never seen.
How can I find those fears, become the best baloney detector? How do I know what
to believe. Thought tempted, I will not turn to Billy clubs, orators, or tight-fisted
demagogues. Instead, I will bring out my razor.
Occam’s razor, a convenient rule of thumb to urge me,
when faced with several hypotheses that explain data equally well,
to choose the simpler.
Either that or switch to calf brains, stewed tripe, or fried liver sausage.
Though honestly, I would rather move beyond all that, beyond Us and Them,
and study the heart, its pains and longings, its emotional responses.
That’s the best way to digest baloney.