wrap your lips around this: “Perfect for Any Occasion” by Alberto Ríos

“Pie, in a word, is my passion. Since as far back as I can remember, watching my mom and dad make their apple pies together every fall as a young boy, I have simply loved pie. I can’t really explain why. If one loves poetry, or growing orchids, or walking along the beach at sunset, the why isn’t all that important. To me, pie is poetry that makes the world a better place.” ~ Ken Haedrich (Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie)

“Eat Pie” by Julie Paschkis (click to purchase archival print)


Imagine what it must be like to have everyone squeal with delight upon seeing you.

You look soooooo good, they all say, you’re exactly what we wanted! You remind us of Grandma and all that is right with the world.

So you bask in the glory, maximize your flake. Living a life of applause is the only way to go.


“Apple Pie and Tea” by Tom Nachreiner


by Alberto Ríos


Pies have a reputation.
And it’s immediate — no talk of potential

Regarding a pie. It’s good
Or it isn’t, but mostly it is — sweet, very sweet

Right then, right there, blue and red.
It can’t go to junior college,

Work hard for the grades,
Work two jobs on the side.

It can’t slowly build a reputation
And a growing client base.

A pie gets one chance
And knows it, wearing as makeup

Those sparkling granules of sugar,
As a collar those diamond cutouts

Bespeaking Fair Day, felicity, contentment.
I tell you everything is great, says a pie.

Great, and fun, and fine.
And you smell nice, too, someone says.

A full pound of round sound, all ahh, all good.
Pies live a life of applause.



But then there are the other pies.
The leftover pies. The ones

Nobody chooses at Thanksgiving.
Mincemeat? What the hell is that? people ask,

Pointing instead at a double helping of Mr.
“I-can-do-no-wrong” pecan pie.

But the unchosen pies have a long history, too.
They have plenty of good stories, places they’ve been —

They were once fun, too —
But nobody wants to listen to them anymore.

Oh sure, everybody used to love lard,
But things have changed, brother — things have changed.

That’s never the end of the story, of course.
Some pies make a break for it —

Live underground for a while,
Doing what they can, talking fast,

Trying to be sweet pizzas, if they’re lucky.
But no good comes of it. Nobody is fooled.

A pie is a pie for one great day. Last week,
It was Jell-O. Tomorrow, it’ll be cake.

~ from The Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press), copyright © 2009 Alberto Ríos. All rights reserved.

“Sixteen Pies” by Wayne Thiebaud (1965)



Are you swooning over “A full pound of round sound, all ahh, all good”? 🙂

Must say, haven’t seen rhyme used to such tantalizing effect in a long time . . .

This poem made me an instant Alberto Ríos fan. Nothing more delightful than celebrating pie while contemplating larger truths tucked beneath the crust, such as — seize the day, easy come-easy go, aging and invisibility, the inevitability of change.

I’ve been thinking about the leftover pies, the unchosen ones. “Leftover pie” is not really part of the Alphabet Soup vocabulary — “disappearing pie” is more like it. 😀

The poet also implies that there are some pies that have fallen out of favor — once chosen and enjoyed, but somehow no longer appreciated. I suppose there are some vintage pies we don’t see as often anymore — remember lemon chiffon, grasshopper, vinegar, or chess pie?

And I don’t really mind mince pie because it makes me think of British Christmases. 🙂

BUT. The thing about pie is that the more “old fashioned” it is, the more we love it. Sure, there are some cute ‘n sassy hand pies making the rounds these days, but nothing comes close to a homemade deep dish apple pie, or other perennial faves like pumpkin, blueberry, peach, chocolate cream, and lemon meringue.

Because pies, are, you know, FOREVER.

What’s your favorite pie? Do you have a fond pie memory to share?


Alberto Ríos is the author of 11 collections of poetry, including Whispering to Fool the Wind (1982), which won the Walt Whitman Award; The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (2002), which was nominated for a National Book Award; and, most recently, A Small Story About the Sky (2015). He has also written three collections of short stories and one memoir. Ríos’s work has been included in over 300 journals and over 250 anthologies, and he was featured in the documentary Birthwrite: Growing up Hispanic. His awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Walt Whitman Award, six Pushcart Prizes, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award. In 2014, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Currently the first state poet laureate of Arizona, Ríos is also the Regents Professor of English and the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English at Arizona State University in Tempe.


The lovely, lithe, literary and eminently likable Linda Baie is hosting the Roundup at TeacherDance. Tiptoe on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Enjoy your weekend. 🙂


“The sandy beach reminded Harold of picnics. And the thought of picnics made him hungry. So he laid out a nice simple picnic lunch.

There was nothing but pie. But there were all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best.

When Harold finished his picnic there was quite a lot left. He hated to see so much delicious pie go to waste.

So Harold left a very hungry moose and a deserving porcupine to finish it up.”

~ Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon)

mmmmm, pie – the best part of Thanksgiving!


Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

47 thoughts on “wrap your lips around this: “Perfect for Any Occasion” by Alberto Ríos

    1. Such a great line, isn’t it? I’m loving Rios’s poems (this in addition to the one about five and dime stores). Wishing you an extra delicious Thanksgiving, Catherine!


  1. My daughter and I just discussed who was making what pie! Yes, the rest will happen, but our conversation was indeed all about the pies! I will share this sumptuous poem with her, Jama. What a marvelous shout-out for pie! Like Catherine, these words! “A full pound of round sound, all ahh, all good./Pies live a life of applause.” Pie memories, a special, though sad, week when all family gathered after Arvie’s mother died, to clean out her home of many years. Friends seemed to think all we needed was pecan pie, and no one grumbled; we ate every bit. I’ll always remember that week when I have a slice of pecan pie. Thank you, also love your header. Happiest of Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing that bittersweet memory, Linda. Food is the great consoler in times of grief. I do love pecan pie; my Aunty Ella was the one who made the best ones. Also bittersweet to remember that she (along with another aunt) passed away in November. Have the best Thanksgiving with your family, Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Did you see the special section on pies in last Sunday’s New York Times? It included full size photos of entire pies. Splendid.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do agree that pecan pies can do no wrong 🙂 I was just planning out my Thanksgiving pies this morning — sweet potato, apple, and blueberry (plus some other dessert for my son, who is not a fan, if you can imagine that.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, yum! Perfectly delicious–but don’t forget rhubarb, my husband’s favorite, which I made all summer until the rhubarb ran out. I’m focusing on apple now, & practice keeps making it better! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rhubarb was my uncle’s favorite — he’d sit and eat the entire pie by himself. 🙂 I love apple pie. It’s all about the crust, which can be tricky to get just right. Practice does make perfect. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving, JoAnn!


    1. I really enjoyed Grace Paley’s pie poem, too. I completely understand the need to create something that someone will appreciate (and consume!) right away. I guess that’s why I like to bake!


  5. Another mouth watering post Jama. That poem by Alberto Rios is terrific I love the line that you shared again, “A full pound of round sound, all ahh, all good.” Love your little bears around the pies, and the rest of the art, I know Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings but didn’t know Tom Nachreiner-Lovely, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The bears are happy you liked them (they enjoyed eating that entire pie right after the photo was taken). Glad you enjoyed the post, Michelle. Happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never been much of a pie fan, but I’m swooning over this post and poem. And yes, every year at Thanksgiving, there’s the annual debate over mince meat or pumpkin pie–some even have both!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great poem for this week. I love the part about forgotten pies. I happen to like and still make mincemeat pie for my husband at Thanksgiving. Pumpkin chiffon is still a holdover from long ago Thanksgivings in our family. Aunt Ruth taught my mother-in-law, who taught me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I remember when pumpkin chiffon pies were in vogue. It was usually plain pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving when I grew up, though, never mincemeat. I noted that mince pies were more common in New England — when we spent Thanksgiving with relatives in NH, there was usually mince pie, no pumpkin.


  8. What lovely poems!! And I am a HUGE pie fan. One of our neighbors taught me how to make pie crust in my aunt’s kitchen. I never have learned how to measure because she taught me in a specific bowl and she knew how to mark the ingredients in that bowl.

    And, it’s pumpkin, natch!!

    Although my grandma Dunston made divine lemon meringue pies.

    Happy week of pies to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So who has that bowl now? Does this mean you can’t make crust without it? 🙂 Lemon meringue is my Dad’s favorite. He turns 104 years old today.


  9. (Buffy cracks me up.) Pie is Definitely the best part of Thanksgiving – hear, hear! I guess all those years in Georgia have made me particularly partial to a good peach pie….
    That painting by Tom Nachreiner up there is glorious, by the way.
    Wishing you and Mr. C. and all of yours a most delicious and comforting and lovely Thanksgiving! XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peach pie is definitely one of my top 3 pies!! Late summer peaches — so good! Mr C and I send all best wishes to you and yours for the best Thanksgiving ever!


  10. If there is an anti-pie continent, I would love to have their helping, Jama. This article & Mr. Ramos’ tasty love book to pie & Julie P’s art & your photographs & other artwork (Thiebaud!) all shared with such pie love & your well-mixed writing – all fresh from the oven with all the enticing aromas of great expectations. Appreciations for this so much & at this time in November & for our country.
    I especially luv your line : maximize your flake – that is hilarious.

    As for favorite pie/ pie story – my hubby & I feel that that Thanksgiving of about 2014 when we here in North Florida picked up our daughter arriving from Boston at the Orlando airport to go on to her grandma’s at the beach & at the parking garage, when it came time to put her luggage in the car, she said, “Wait a minute. I want to show you what I made for you” & she pulled out of her backpack – out of her backpack! her signature golden crusted pumpkin pie & her signature made-in-tiny apt. cross-hatch crust- top high-rise, large pieces apple pie, which she had safety wrapped in waxed paper & nestled between sturdy cardboard supports she had wedged in the backpack, those were & will always remain the best pies. I can’t thank you enough for this post.

    Sending vibes for a full of joy Thanksgiving time, to you & yours 🙂


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