poetry friday roundup is here!


Bonjour, Mes Amis.  Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

Please help yourself to tea and croissants. The pain au chocolat is especially good — is there a better way to greet the day than with buttery, flaky pastry wrapped around a decadent piece of deep dark chocolate? *rapture*

For passionate poet and gastronome Diane DeCillis, croissants are the stuff of dreams. About today’s poem, she says:

Yes, I had a dream about croissants. And maybe I was sneaking one. I have an almost pathological love of sweets.

Usually, I’ll take a dream and use some of the details as a framework. Since croissant is a French word for a Viennese pastry, I began to elaborate, adding that I was stealing in French and took it from there.

I remember being a kid and having a dream that there was a mountain of Paydays (my favorite candy back then) on the school playground. I was running toward it and woke up just before I reached it. Hence the end of the poem.

Croissant Lover’s Dream: the Ispahan (glazed with rose-flavored almond cream, sprinkled with candied rose petals and filled with raspberry-litchi pâte) by Pierre Hermé, Paris.



I was stealing in French,

stole tender crescents
with a translucent glaze,
crusty and raspberry filled,

stole light
clouds of pastry
layered with butter.

glistening like Antoinette’s baubles.

I stole the moon, I stole la lune,
took le voyage dans la lunette.

I was the cow, la vache qui rit,
laughing and buoyant in flight.

I stole the sea, la mer, and la feesh,
that jump and dance in the moonlight.

I stole the night and the stars,
and wrapped them in silver
shaped like the neck of a swan . . .

Oh, don’t be jaloux, cher,

don’t foofaraw like the blue jays
and chimps. (They can become
jealous too.)

It was only one night
(cinq minutes dans ma coeur),
and, oui, some oozed
with chocolate,

sadly, none ever touched my lips.

~ copyright © Diane DeCillis, from Strings Attached (Wayne State University Press, 2014), posted by permission of the author.

(click for pain au chocolat recipe via the Baker Chick)

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Oh, sweet words, sweet flirtation, light, lyrical and delectably playful! Do you also have dreams where you wake up just before the really good part? Is there a particular food you dream about most often?

Now, please leave your links below with Mr. Linky. Don’t forget to put the title of the poem you’re sharing or the book you’re reviewing in parentheses after your name. Enjoy all the poetic offerings being served up in the blogosophere today and have a delicious weekend!

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Sweet Dreams!


Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

friday feast: savoring diane decillis’s strings attached (+ a hummus recipe)

Remember when I shared Diane DeCillis’s exquisite poem, “Opera Buffa”?

I’m still sighing over “gnocchi lifted itself off the fork” and that lovely Panna Cotta — “silky, quivering cream adorned with fresh berries.” Remember silly Antonio, who wasn’t interested in ordering dessert? You simply cannot trust a man who doesn’t like sweets!

After reading “Opera Buffa,” I yearned for more of Diane’s poetry, which is why I was ecstatic when her debut collection, Strings Attached (Wayne State University Press, 2014), was released in May.

What a beautiful, lush, finely crafted feast of brilliance!

Her 60+ poems tease the intellect, warm the heart, please the ear, whet the physical and spiritual appetites, and nourish artistic sensibilities with their worldly elegance, lyricism, surprising turns-of-phrase, and evocative narratives.

I love how Diane’s passions for art, music, literature, food and family inform structure, theme, cadence, image, and metaphor. As in “Opera Buffa,” the food-related poems are infused with tantalizing sensory detail, whether she muses about her Lebanese grandmother’s stuffed grape leaves or leban (yogurt), “ethereal profiteroles filled with crème de la moo,” or terrapin soup à la Babette’s Feast.

Pop culture and high art happily co-exist in the layers of Diane’s imagination as she riffs on the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, Magritte, Duncan Hines Pineapple Cake Mix, Tab Hunter/ Sandra Dee in a fleabag motel, Chopin, Debussy, Rilke, Gertrude Stein, “Like Water for Chocolate,” “Punch Drunk Love.”

Lebanese Rolled Grape Leaves via Jean Rivot

Diane brings her own brand of self-deprecating humor to these poems (“What Would Hitchcock Do?”), but there are also poignant notes of longing for an absent father (“Finding Fathers”), the push-pull dynamics of generational clashes (“Milk”), the vagaries of love, the liberation of dreams, the richness of cultural heritage.

Today I’m happy to share one of several prose poems from Strings Attached, perhaps the “foodiest” in the collection. I love how Diane has composed this sensorial symphony of sounds, colors, flavors, aromas and textures, lovingly capturing a cherished moment in time. A masterful culinary canvas!

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friday feast: the proof is in the panna cotta


Thanks to Diane Shipley DeCillis, we now know why the course of true love never did run smooth.

Curtain up!

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via Da Silvano


At La Dolce Vita, in the village,
the gnocchi lifts itself off the fork,
floats like a cloud in your mouth,
the marinara so fresh,
it ripens the tomatoes, garlic
and basil right on your tongue.

Clemenza’s in the kitchen
stirring the sauce,
telling everyone he really doesn’t eat
that much, it’s the fumes
that have permeated his body,
gotten under his skin
and made him fat.

My date Antonio closes his eyes
after each bite, groans,
Marona, this is as good
as my mother’s.

Satisfied, he lays his folded napkin
on the empty plate and slumps
in the chair while I,
having saved room,
crane my neck looking for the waiter.
What, you want dessert too?
He seems surprised.

I’d like to see what they have,
though I’ve committed it
to memory.
Aren’t you full? he asks.
Am I full? I think to myself.
It’s bad enough that we have to die,
that I’m not taller, that my metabolism
is molto lento, but to dine with someone
who is indifferent

to a chilled plate
of Panna Cotta,
silky, quivering cream
adorned with fresh berries,
or Torta Strega, cake
perfumed with liqueur,
filled with pastry cream
and finished
with hazelnut meringue.

I cannot live on lasagna alone
and the fact that Antonio
doesn’t sense this threatens
our chance for a future.

The waiter smiles as he unravels
the dessert menu, handwritten
on rough brown craft paper.
Umbrian Apple Tart
Selville Orange Sorbetto …
This is so beautiful
, I say,
ordering the Panna Cotta.
May I keep the menu?
Of course Signora
, he says.
And you sir?

No. Nothing for me,
just a cup of espresso

Oh Antonio, Antonio what
are you thinking?
How can I trust a man
who doesn’t like sweets?
At La Dolce Vita
what could have been the start
of a beautiful romance—
snapped like a broken string
on a Stradivarius!

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003
Tribute to Italian Poets. Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2013 Diane Shipley DeCillis.


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