Poem: Tuna Breath by Mark Tulin


Grandma cranks the tuna can with an old fashioned opener,

making sure not to get cut on the edges.

The tuna juice floats to the top

like algae from the sea.

She wonders what ocean the tuna came from.

She wonders who fished him out

as she chops the tuna like her mother taught her,

mixing hard boiled eggs and onions

and adding plenty of salad dressing

with her very bony fingers

and her henna red hair and bulging eyes.

She cries every time she peels the onion.

The nitroglycerin pill rests carefully beneath her tongue

as her heart beats in unsteady rhythms.

She smiles and laughs through the pain

as her cats rub against her and purr,

lining up to smell her fingers.

After which, they lick their lips

and look up at grandma when she talks,

breathing in her wonderful tuna breath.



More poems like this in my chapbook of poetry, Magical Yogis.  Click the link to Magical Yogis at the top of my home page to make the purchase.

I am an author, poet, humorist, and short story writer from Palm Springs, California. I write about various topics, from my early childhood in Philadelphia to my years as a family therapist and finally to my soul-searching in California. These are poetic narratives that may have humorous or serious content or both. Either way, I hope my poetry and stories resonate with you.

2 comments on “Poem: Tuna Breath by Mark Tulin

  1. Theresa Ruiz

    Oh, Mark! You make me think of my Grandma Julia. The same one that loves to gamble would also make a great tuna fish salad. She had a unique way of getting the best flavor from it. When we would visit in the afternoon, she would say “There’s tuna in refrigerator if you want a sandwich. Help yourself.” I don’t know that she still makes it, but if you ever visit her on a Saturday afternoon and she offers, be sure and get a sandwich. It could bring back memories of your Grandma as well.

    Grandma Julia and I have had a wonderful relationship over the years. Being the oldest, I would always take advantage of staying weekends with her. My happiest memories are the times I would stay with her. We would go to Ventura on Saturday and go shopping and then to lunch (when I was little). She would let me watch TV all day long without a complaint. I’d stay up with Grandpa sometimes and watch the fights with him. Sunday morning the three of us would get up and go to mass and then brunch afterwards. I loved those weekends because Grandma made me feel as special as your Grandma did! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I hope I get to taste your Grandma’s tuna fish recipe, even if it is from your hands.

  2. Thanks, Theresa. Sounds like a lot of grannies can make good tuna fish. It must be a requirement for being a good grandma.

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