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Free Cone Day!

April 16th, 2024 (Ben and Jerry Do The Right Thing)

By Kendall Defoe Published about a month ago 3 min read
Free Cone Day!
Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

Call the roller of big cigars,

The muscular one, and bid him whip

In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.

Let the wenches dawdle in such dress

As they are used to wear, and let the boys

Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.

Let be be finale of seem.

The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

"The Emperor of Ice-Cream" - Wallace Stevens (1923)

I am a former English major. I have studied major poets and writers in the American sphere. I know this poem almost too well. And I never truly understood its full meaning...until this afternoon.

It was going to be a long day at the college. I knew that as I set up my page online and found the material that I wanted to share with my two classes. I should not have bothered. The first group had an overlap with an exam that ran late; the second gently stepped out and shrank during my break. A part of me knew this was coming, but I was still expecting less of the same and more participation from them. It is only few weeks before our exams begin and I am hoping that they finally discover the questions and concerns I keep asking about class after class. That may have been the reason why I checked the news: a federal budget is coming down in Canada; floods and other weather problems elsewhere; that man continuing to entertain in the courtrooms of New York...

Ben and Jerry offering free ice cream...

Free ice cream?!


I had a plan.


I was giddy that afternoon. My last class ended suspiciously early as I told everyone and anyone - even students - that there was an offer of free ice cream right down the road from the school. Some thanked me for the information; others complained that the weather was not cooperating with the treat offer.

After work, I walked in the sun to the local Ben & Jerry. It is very fortunate that there are three of them on the island of Montréal and that one of them is just a block-and-a-half away. It was also fortunate that the line up was very small. The weather might have played a role, but I think that the lack of advertising beyond some news articles and my lucky discovery mattered.

The strange thing is that I thought of that poem first as I waited in line, not the particular type of ice cream I would order (I was trying not to think of Cherry Garcia or Funky Monkey). I was wondering about 'concupiscent curds', 'wenches' dawdling in different dresses (a bit of that about when I stared back at the line forming behind me), and that weird sentence before the last line of the first stanza:

Let be be finale of seem.

Over the years, I had read many interpretations of that line. And as someone who teaches ESL, I knew that my students have probably written something as close to this grammatical monstrosity. And monsters do have their own charm.

Is it all about the funeral of a loved one; the coldness of one's character; or about how life is brief and that things should not be taken too seriously?


With my cone of Marshmallow Dream in hand, I only thought about how accurate Stevens was to give a title to that wonderful construction in my hand. Ice cream has its own standing beyond any titles or labels we put on it.

And to Ben & Jerry?

I thank you.

I really did feel the imperial majesty of that treat at the start of another spring.

Wisdom of youth


Thank you for reading!

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You can find more poems, stories, and articles by Kendall Defoe on my Vocal profile. I complain, argue, provoke and create...just like everybody else.

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About the Creator

Kendall Defoe

Teacher, reader, writer, dreamer... I am a college instructor who cannot stop letting his thoughts end up on the page.

And I did this: Buy Me A Coffee... And I did this:


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Comments (5)

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  • Hannah Moore30 days ago

    I've never read this poem before, but I did wonder about that line! I took at as giving up proper behaviour for the enjoyment of pleasure of ice cream.

  • Leslie Writesabout a month ago

    Dang! I missed free cone day! Oh well. I enjoyed your story and thanks for introducing me to that poem. 🍦

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    I've never tried anything from Ben & Jerry's before. It's just too expensive 😅 It's so cool that you got a free cone of it hehehehehhe

  • Alex H Mittelman about a month ago

    So, you got ice cream! Now I want ice cream! 😎 your students sound indolent. They should have stayed after you took your break! ☁️💨

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Thank you for sharing the information regarding free ice cream from Ben & Jerry's with your students and thank you for this heartwarming story!!!💕❤️❤️

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