By Brian Pop-O Flannery

Crunchy, crispy, porous, tasty, zesty. Close friends, associates, acquaintances, of soups and salads. Sometimes forgotten but always missed. A lonely companion on a gastronomic journey. Sprinkled, strewn, speckled on top like a light coating of snow in early January. On occasion undressed but loving every minute of it. Adored, cherished, the epitome of excellence, for it completes, satisfies, finishes, complements. It asks not whether it should be or shouldn't be but just is. Like a flower in a garden it toils not and is granted with water and sunshine. Master of its fate for it doesn't need to become. It doesn't have to become anything for it already is. It doesn't have to become a slice of bread who lives in a plastic house. It doesn't have to evolve into a scone and crumble under ones fingers from its lack of backbone. It floats, soaks, bathes in its many environments, always happy with what life has to throw at it. The mighty crouton super-hero hard like diamond plate, yet the master of disguise. It can change attire and blend into its environment. It can dress in many different styles of clothing and speak nine different languages. Hiding, lurking, wiggling into the shadows. Ready to emerge and attack, swiftly, with such vigor, vitality, gusto that would make a blind man see again. Croutoness is its strength from master chefs to lowly salad bar hostesses can tap into this incredible spirit. It brings smiles and awe when approached on the street. It challenges others to create, fashion, construct works that spring forth millions of dollars, love affairs, glorious battle plans, never forgotten memories, bitter cat fights, drunken orgies, licentiously weddings, seasonal handshakes, belly-laughter that projects victuals, and taste buds wired on cosmic soup. It communes with pepper and salt like squirrels do with acorns. Like soul mates forever embraced, and a rush of non-judgmental love they have for each other. The crouton family shouldn't be mistaken like the Dolly sheep family. For each crouton like dandelions are different, unique, distinctive, rare, irreplaceable. Behold the glorious crouton never shaken or stirred but put on a pedestal, and fed grapes to by naked, blond, voluptuous Alfa sprouts. Many scoff at it and throw it to the side. But it knows what it is and takes no heed of the negativity and judgmental faces that it encounters. For it knows the ones who are negative and constantly have to attack others, need a tasty snack to let there tainted minds and body's be refreshed and rejuvenated. There lack-of-harmony is in destruction against the flow of the currents of life and of delicacies. Many a noble cherishes the small things in life akin to the crouton. Of which the others cast away croutons like pearls before swine. The crouton simply moves on and lets the others sink into there dark holes and go back under there rocks that they crawled out of. The crouton takes a stroll in the forest, where brambles, flora and fauna are everywhere. Murky swamps that try to smother, engulf, drown it. Rain storms that try to drench, saturate, soak its essence. The crouton usually seeks shelter high above up in the canopy. There it can watch the setting sun and strange white and pointy metallic jagged creatures fly by. Tis a crouton to many but to a select few it tis a miracle. Breathing happiness and joy from being itself.

Brian Pop-O Flannery lives in New York. He is also the author of The Yoda Factor.