Umami Tears


I talked in hushed tones with my brother

while we were walking

to get his hair cut

about times we had cried

not salty tears

but umami tears –

substantial and


These savory tears fell

for fictional families

reunited in two-minute ads tear jerking

to sell electronics.

Our umami tears fell to songs

about dying in tin cans in space

and the fake grass in Jersey.

Rich, fatty tears fell for a male model we did not know

who cried at his pictures because

he looked real for

the first time.

Or rice-puffed eyes were caused by news

on red CNN banners

flashing breaking

In white block letters. The voices of alligator sympathy

boomed from the smile-lined mouths of adults.


We cursed the umami tears because

you could smile with teeth while

salty crocodile tears flowed

from irises.

Sweet fruit-loop tears

looked so nice

on a silver movie screen.

But umami –


were the tears

that stayed in your eyes

long after you thought you’d cried them out.


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