So, are you drooling over this beautiful bowl of lentil soup with fresh berries on the side?
Well, drool is all you’re gonna do, because today, there will absolutely, positively be NO SOUP FOR YOU!
That’s right. No slurping or sipping or swallowing or anything else. I realize it goes counter to everything I stand for around here, but today’s a special day and I’m making an exception.
Bouillabaisse by Zen Chef/flickr.
Remember last week’s cookie fest with Mr. Dumpty? Diane Lockward, the fabulous poet who created that scrumptious poem, has graciously granted me permission to post yet another delectable delight from her latest book, Temptation by Water. What could be better than melt-in-your-mouth cookies, you ask? Soup, of course!
Mulligatawny by anjuli_ayer/flickr.
I swear I’ve never actually met Diane, but it certainly seems she’s writing many of her poems just for me ☺. Recently, I asked her about the genesis of and writing process behind today’s poem, “‘No Soup for You!'” I learned that she loves soup and has a bowl for lunch almost every day throughout the year — and, *wait for it*, her husband owns a restaurant!
First the poem, then we’ll hear more from Diane:
“NO SOUP FOR YOU!”
~ The Soup Nazi, Seinfeld
Let the people slurp their soup.
They are cold and famished.
They have longings, desires, hungers,
assuageable only by soup.
That girl, appetite voracious but unsated,
bring her to my counter. I will sustain her with soup.
Bring me your hungry, your underfed, your malnourished.
Bring them out of the rain, snow, and sleet.
They have waited in line for hours, wraith-like,
breathing the herb-laced air — saffron, basil, garlic.
Bring me the beggar on the street, the alcoholic,
the dope fiend, the runaway, the hooker, the ex-con.
Bring me your love-starved, sex-starved, soup-starved,
the ones starved for affection, starved for attention,
ravenous for fame, for power, glory, money.
They shall be fed from my stockpot.
Mulligatawny, lentil, mushroom with dill,
beef barley, chicken with pearls of pasta,
hearty split pea with a ham bone.
Soup in bowls, in styrofoam cups, soup in crocks,
in jugs, mugs, and tureens.
That young man at the back of the line,
at the end of his rope, down on his luck,
out of luck, his every hunger unappeased,
he shall have his mother’s homemade minestrone.
I believe in the power of soup,
ladled, spooned, and tilted into the hungry mouth.
Soup du jour and soup du nuit.
Gazpacho and bouillabaisse,
onion topped with French bread and melted cheese,
chowder thick with clams, pasta fagioli, and pepper pot.
Bring me the pervert, the hustler, gambler,
crackhead, the tweaker, the man who has lost everything.
Arm them with spoons. Adorn them with bibs.
Let them eat lobster bisque.
Let the earth be loud with the music of their slurping.
~ from Temptation by Water by Diane Lockward (Wind Publications, 2010)
Winter Minestrone by diekatrin/flickr.
I do believe I’ve never read a finer anthem extolling the enduring power of soup, the most egalitarian of foods. Here’s what Diane has to say about her poem:
I’m a huge Seinfeld fan and often watch the show in reruns. The Soup Nazi is one of my favorite characters from the show. In one of his appearances, he had hidden all the recipes for his various soups in a drawer of an armoire that got into Elaine’s hands. She then threatened to reveal the recipes.
I remembered the names of some of those soups and brought them into the poem. I began the poem motivated by the line that appears as the epigraph. I felt inclined to argue: Let the people eat their soup. As the poem proceeded, I felt the influence of Emma Lazarus’ poem, “The New Colossus,” slipping in. This surprised me as I couldn’t even recall the poet’s name initially and when someone asked me if the poem had been influenced by Emma Lazarus, I said, Who? But yes, she was there, leading me on.
This poem took a long time and many drafts. In the early drafts, it was much longer. My challenge was to pare it down. When you use a list in a poem, you have to be careful not to overdo it. So some soups got tossed out.
I hope readers will enjoy the music of this poem, the rhythm of it. But mostly I hope it will elicit compassion for the hard times that some people endure.
French Onion Soup by ilmungo/flickr.
I also asked Diane if she could share a favorite soup recipe. She enjoys this particular mushroom soup because it’s not a cream soup. I made some the other day and truly enjoyed it. Mmmmmmmmm!
DIANE LOCKWARD’S MUSHROOM SOUP
stick and a half of butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 lb. mushroom, sliced
8 cups chicken stock (I use the boxed kind)
2 T parsley
Salt and pepper
4 ounces sherry
In a saucepan, melt 4 T of butter. Add the onion and cook until it is soft and translucent — not sautéed.
Add chopped mushrooms and the remaining butter. Stir for about 8 minutes.
Push mixture aside and add sliced mushrooms and cook until softened.
Stir in the chicken stock and the parsley and bring to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour.
Add the sherry, mix well, and serve.
Thank you so much, Diane! Today, you’ve provided us with a wholly satisfying meal to feed our bodies, minds, and spirits. You’ve inspired me to “pass the torch” and share the love with a special giveaway!
♥ Today’s Poetry Friday host is Carol at Rasco from RIF. Check out the complete menu of today’s poetic offerings around the blogosphere.
♥ Related Post: I make the Soup Nazi’s Mulligatawny recipe.
♥ Other Diane Lockward poems at alphabet soup.
♥ Interesting interview with Diane by Derek Alger.