friday feast: feeling my oats

“You have to eat oatmeal or you’ll dry up. Anybody knows that.” ~ Kay Thompson, author of Eloise

I just had breakfast with these two poets.

Usually, I dine alone. Maybe it’s better that way. When I dine alone, clever poets don’t make me snort oatmeal out my nose.

We all have to make our sacrifices.

All along, I’ve been trying to show the relationship between food and writing. Rather than write over 400 posts on this blog, I should have just asked Galway Kinnell to recite this poem, which he wrote because a painter at a writers retreat felt sorry for him eating his oatmeal alone.

Galway was right. It is worse eating oatmeal with an imaginary friend.

Still, I feel sure I’m going to invite these guys over again.


by Galway Kinnell

McCann’s Irish Oatmeal with ground flax, orange blossom honey, soy milk, and fresh raspberries.

I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that it is better for your mental health if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary companion.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge, as he called it, with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him:
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime, and unusual willingness to disintegrate, oatmeal should not be eaten alone.
He said that in his opinion, however, it is perfectly OK to eat it with an imaginary companion, and that he himself had enjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser and John Milton.
Even if eating oatmeal with an imaginary companion is not as wholesome as Keats claims, still, you can learn something from it.

(Rest is here.)



Yat-Yee Chong is today’s Poetry Friday hostess. Better RSVP if you’re bringing an imaginary companion.

21 thoughts on “friday feast: feeling my oats

  1. due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime, and unusual willingness to disintegrate
    Which is probably why I dislike hot cereal of all kinds. 😛 My father, a big oatmeal fan, despaired throughout my childhood, and rejoiced when, as an adult, I gamely tried a few bites. I do love oatmeal IN things, however (or I did, when I could eat it) – bread, cookies, etc. And I have raised two daughters who eat oatmeal, one of whom LOVES it, even as an after-school snack, and the other who enjoys it in small doses.
    Edit: And I love the Eloise quote. Such a fantastic story. 😀


  2. If I had to choose between clogged arteries and oatmeal (good for lowering cholesterol, don’t you know), I’d choose clogged arteries. I simply despise hot cereal, though I do love this poem.
    Thanks for sharing!


  3. Oh, my word. As I was eating my oatmeal (with strawberry yogurt) this morning, I thought of this poem, which I’ve saved on my hard drive for about five years now.
    I never ate oatmeal as a child, but now I like it, especially if I’m going to do boot camp or run. It stays with me and doesn’t make me feel queasy. You know what’s good in oatmeal? A dollop of apple butter.


  4. My comfort food on cold days is warm leftovers. This morning it was leftover potatoes made into pancakes. Some days it’s leftover jambalaya or meatloaf!


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