My grandfather liked to fry potatoes on Sundays,
peppery and thick with soft onions,
though he knew I did not care for onions,
people didn’t seem to ask much then
children’s opinion on food preparation.
My grandfather, who lived to pull crisp waffles
from the electric iron, though always soggy
by the time you ate them. Who loved a big stack
of Krusteze pancakes, cooked a little too black,
adorned by cold chunks of margarine and Log Cabin Syrup.
On weekdays, though, it was oatmeal,
thick from the pot, clumps of hardening raisins
softening as they were stirred in
with milk, with little rocks of brown sugar.
occasionally, Cream of Wheat instead.
My mother rose later, with my brothers,
and breakfast from her was always a surprise —
though she loved toast the best. Cheese toast,
melted cheddar sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon toast,
toast with peanut butter, with honey, with butter and jam,
with a soft boiled egg quivering atop, sprinkled
with salt and pepper. Eggs, eggs so many ways.
Scrambled with hot dogs, with cheese. Poached. Fried,
yolk unbroken, toast to sop up that sunny puddle of delight.
We were a breakfast family, no “Just a cup of coffee for me.”
Breakfast — to fortify your day, arm you for school, work,
occasionally, and for feverish stretches at a time, for church.
Different churches, different times. We moved in strange
cycles of devotion. But from breakfast we never wavered.
I’ve never understood those for whom food is merely fuel.
And I’m sure they’ve never understood me. How even a bowl
of sugar cereal, dug deep into a cartooned Saturday morning,
Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch or Frosted Flakes
or whatever had been on sale that week, could be a kind of devotion,
a ritual, richer than any of the churches we wove in and out of.
Or sometimes we just had it for dessert.
Don’t even get me started on dessert.
~ first published in The Scarlet Leaf Review (April 2017)
Did you know that poetry is the most important meal of the day?
Spoon up a hearty bowl of metaphors, savor a sonnet, sip a warm couplet of coffee or tea.
Since man cannot live on bread alone, today we’re serving up a breakfast buffet of five poems over easy. Feel free to grab a quick nibble or graze at your leisure, whatever feeds the need over this holiday weekend. Nothing like a few choice words to tease thought, kindle fond memories, and get your motor running. Did somebody say bacon? 🙂
Step right up and eat all about it.
A LITANY OF TOAST by Cathy Lentes
Come sit at my Grandmother’s table . . .
let your elbows rest, cool and damp,
on the scrubbed red oilcloth.
Before you a bowl of butter,
fat yellow sticks
cut and jumbled like stones,
honey clinging to comb,
jam and jelly
sealed in paraffin tombs.
A clatter of spoons,
the dance of grease on an iron pan,
the tender crack and sizzle as
morning splits open again.
Her hands blessing the stove,
she murmurs, mindful of toast.
Now, on a plate, heavy and broad,
steaming eggs like sunshine,
thick planks of bacon,
bread, crisp and golden,
butter spread crust to crust. Eat, she says, eat.
This morning I’ll skip the bacon
and eggs and have a poem over light —
two or three if you don’t mind.
I feel my appetite coming on.
And even a stack of flapjacks
which I love — with butter
and boysenberry jam spreading
their fingers of sweetness over
the ragged edges — won’t do me now.
When this hunger’s on, only a poem
will do, one that will surprise my need
like a stranger knocking
at the door (a small knock — at first,
I hardly hear it) to ask directions,
it turns out, to this house. He’s looking
for me. Who are you I ask? Your brother
he says, the one you never knew you had
or the one who you’ve been trying to remember
all your life but somehow couldn’t recall
until now, when he arrives.
And there he is
before me smiling, holding out his arms
— and all this by chance. Do you
So serve me up a poem friend,
but just go easy on the tropes,
for instance, synecdoche and such. A simile
or two is fine and metaphor’s all right.
A rhyming quatrain, maybe on the side
would be ok, but not too much —
they sometimes give me gas.
God I love a breakfast such as this.
It gives me a running start and keeps me going
through to dark when I’m as hungry as a horse.
But that’s another poem. Let’s eat.
I savored every Saturday
when she rendered
up to the gods what was theirs
(a burnt offering:
crisp edged plank of glistening
smoked pork in its glory).
at five, I marveled at the marbled
slab of sizzle–
standing on a chair, my eyes watering,
as before me a transubstantiation occurred:
bacon became Bacon, my mouth gaped adrool–
and still that sizzle echoes
through time’s larders
and the years’ open windows,
her gingham curtains wafting
as fat is forever rendered
into memory and hickory-smoke
I love entering the worlds of these poems, hearing the voices. It’s like having interesting company at the breakfast table, isn’t it? 🙂
The eminently talented Julie Larios is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Roundup at The Drift Record. After you’ve had your second cup of coffee, scamper over and peruse the full menu of poetic goodies being shared in the blogosphere this week. Have a great holiday weekend!