In the spirit of poetic exchange, I've served up a buffet of three poems -- all with food references -- that speak to me like a low-hanging mango begging to be picked.
The first dish is an ode to the artichoke by Beverly Fields Burnette, a Raleigh, N.C.-based poet and president of the North Carolina Association of Black Storytellers.
Artichoke Pickle Passion: A Sonnet
In southern springs we dug for artichokes
In Miz Olivia's tall and weedy yard.
She dipped her snuff, but never, ever smoked;
At eighty-five, she wasn't avant-garde.
Her 'bacco spittings grew the vegetable;
Well nourished were the tubers, strong, the stalks.
And even though their worth was questionable,
With hoe in hand, we dug, postponing talk.
Once washed, soaked, sliced, they met some torrid brine.
Aromas flew on steamy clouds of heat.
When canned, the waiting was the longest time.
How many weeks or months before we eat?
In southern springs, we dug the precious root,
And still, this day, it is my passion fruit.
(From "Catch the Fire!!!: A Cross-Generational Anthology of Contemporary African-American Poetry," Derrick I.M. Gilbert, editor)
Next up are two pieces from the late poet Jane Kenyon, who served as New Hampshire's poet laureate before she died in 1995.
Three Small Oranges
My old flannel nightgown, the elbows out,
One shoulder torn...Instead of putting it
Away with the clean wash, I cut it up
For rags, removing the arms and opening
Their seams, scissoring across the breast
And upper back, then tearing the thin
Cloth of the body into long rectangles.
Suddenly an immense sadness...
Making supper, I listen to news
From the war, of torture where the air
Is black at noon with burning oil,
And of a market in Baghdad, bombed
By accident, where yesterday an old man
Carried in his basket a piece of fish
Wrapped in paper and tied with string,
And three small hard green oranges.
In haste one evening while making dinner
I threw away a potato that was spoiled
On one end. The rest would have been
Redeemable. In the yellow garbage pail
It became the consort of coffee grounds,
Banana skins, carrot peelings.
I pitched it onto the compost
Where steaming scraps and leaves
Return, like bodies over time, to earth.
When I flipped the fetid layers with a hay
Fork to air the pile, the potato turned up
Unfailingly, as if to revile me ---
Looking plumper, firmer, resurrected
Instead of disassembling. It seemed to grow
Until I might have made shepherd's pie
For a whole hamlet, people who pass the day
Dropping trees, pumping gas, pinning
Hand-me-down clothes on the line.
(From "Jane Kenyon Collected Poems")
For National Poetry Month events in your neck of the woods, check this clickable map.
Have you got an edible poem for the salad bar? Share the contents of your pocket in the comments area below.
Hot off the green press, just in time for Earth Day, is "Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Green World" by Washington area author Diane MacEachern. The word "purse" is intentional; this book is for women, who "spend eighty-five cents of every dollar in the marketplace," MacEachern writes in her introduction. Printed on acid-free recycled paper (natch), this hefty paperback is a green guide to all facets of life, from your morning coffee to your sleepy-time linens, including substantial chapters on food and drinks.
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