all aboard for the dining car!

Early Pullman dining car (late 19th century)

 

Ah, the romance of trains.

Is there anything more elegantly delicious than a freshly cooked meal served in a dining car?

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photo of Southern Railways diner by Bill Schafer (1973)

 

THE DINING CAR OF THE SOUTHERN CRESCENT
by John Campbell

The Southern Crescent
snakes its way through
the rolling fog shrouded
piedmont landscape;
a young man on spring break,
returning home from
college, crosses the creaky
passageway that leads from
Pullmans to the dining car.

Breakfast smells give rise to
an ambitious order of fresh coffee,
country ham with red eye gravy,
grits, scrambled eggs and
biscuits with blackberry jam.

The waiter, agile and accomplished,
dressed in a white starched apron,
steadies himself against the swaying
motion of the train; with serving tray
in hand and balanced, he places the
piping hot breakfast on a table decked
with a linen table cloth, pewter
creamers, thick silverware, coffee
cups and saucers and plates, etched with
a crescent moon insignia; a small
bundle of daffodils sit in a crystal
vase near the window.

The young man with the vittles before him,
relishes a feeling of adult composure
and delight. “How could life be this good?”
A breakfast fit for a king, waiters
eager to please, railway views of
rural Carolina: tenant shanties,
grazing black angus, abandoned junkyards,
brownstone depots and sleepy towns.

He, still unfamiliar with the niceties
of the wealthy elite, or even the acquired
dignities of his college
professors, avows, while pouring
coffee from a silver carafe into
a Syracuse China cup, that the
dining car of the Southern Crescent
is a place of utmost refinement.

~ from January Snow and Other Poems (Williams & Company, 2008)

 

Dining Car 3158 built by Pullman for Southern Railway in 1924. Original design featured open windows, clerestory roof, and ornate 1920’s fixtures (via TVRR).

 

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Continue reading

when donuts call your name

“You can’t buy happiness but you can buy donuts. And that’s kind of the same thing.” ~ Anonymous

They’re calling me again. I donut know why I can’t resist them.

Ring, filled, glazed, powdered, frosted with sprinkles — they’ve perfected their siren song. At least I’m not alone in this. 🙂

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“Five Dunkin’ Donuts in a Box” by Beverly Shipko

 

THE YEAR I LIVED ACROSS THE STREET FROM A 24-HOUR DUNKIN’ DONUTS
by Edwin Romond

Each day of each month
like Odysseus with his sirens
I’d hear pastries calling, “Come over! Come over!”
and I’d picture glazed and blueberry
doughnuts, almond croissants and cinnamon
coffee rolls, apple fritters and chocolate
scones, and I feared an international crisis
if I ever said no to a Bavarian cream.
Sometimes at night with the moon white
as a powdered sugar munchkin
I’d wake and worry there was one
lonely toasted coconut doughnut left
in a tray all by himself and charity
would demand I get dressed, cross the street
and eat him. Oh, that year of Christmas
tree cookies, Old Glory sprinkles
on 4th of July muffins, and the faith
inspiring Ash Wednesday hot cross buns
that made me thank God for counter girls
who saved my seat by the window, bakers
who took midnight requests, and for Macy’s
who sold expandable stretch waist jeans.

~ This poem first appeared in The Stillwater Review

First Dunkin’ Donuts shop opened in Quincy, Massachusetts (1950)

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Since Dunkin’ Donuts originated in New England, it’s fitting that I had my first official DD there — in Bedford, New Hampshire, to be exact.

We were newly married and visiting Len’s family. I remember my father-in-law raving about DD’s coffee and chicken noodle soup. He never mentioned the donuts, though. It seems going out for DD coffee on a Saturday morning was THE thing to do.

We often stayed at Len’s brother’s house, and one morning Len picked up a box of munchkins for breakfast. Up until then, my little nephew — he might have been 2 or 3 years old at the time — had never eaten donuts in any form. Of course he LOVED them, calling them “Nonuts.” We didn’t know then that my SIL had been restricting his sweets. Oops.

So my first Dunkin’ Donut was actually a plain glazed munchkin, and I’ve been hooked ever since. They’re small and (you gotta admit) cute. There’s less of a guilt factor too. Whoever decided to call those donut holes “munchkins” was absolutely brilliant. Such an adorable name. There might even be scientific proof that eating munchkins makes you cuter. 😀

I love Romond’s poem because it’s so relatable. Though I’ve never lived right across the street from a donut shop, just having a Dunkin’ Donuts in the same town is dangerous enough. My highly refined donut radar can pick up those siren signals within a 30 mile radius, at least. So whenever I hear the cry of a cruller, the moanings of a marble frosted, or the lamentations of a long john, I feel it is my civic duty to come to the rescue. I know they long to be eaten. I just want to make them happy.

I would certainly not want to be the last and lonely toasted coconut donut left on the tray. Poor thing. I may be cowardly with some things, but putting donuts out of their misery isn’t one of them. Mine, like Mr. Romond’s, is a noble calling.

Mr Cornelius rescues a toasted coconut donut.

 

What’s your favorite donut? 🙂

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The lovely and talented Tara Smith is hosting the Roundup at Going to Walden. Take her a chocolate frosted donut and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Have a nice weekend (eat lots of DONUTS)!

 

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If they’re good enough for him, they’re good enough for me.

Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

joy soup for a new blue year

“I’m a ‘blue sky thinker’ and dream big.” ~ Hilary Knight

Hello Cutie Pies, and Hello Brand New Year!!

Yes, we’re back. Actually, we’re back and BLUE. Once again.

It feels good to open a new calendar and be a member of the Clean Slate Club. As Anne Shirley said, “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.” Oh, the possibilities!

Come what may, COOKIES are always a good idea — along with warm cups of tea, a comfy chair, and a good book or two or five hundred. 🙂

We’re all bears here (oh, you’ve noticed?). Hibernate is the name of the game. 🐻

So, did you have a good holiday? One of the nicest things to happen here was welcoming a new resident, BLUE BEAR.

He arrived on our doorstep thanks to the kindness and generosity of dear blogger friend Linda Baie, who hangs out at TeacherDance. Not too long ago, I stumbled across a photo of Big Blue Bear online; those of you who are from or have visited Denver are probably familiar with him, as he’s been peeking into the Colorado Convention Center since 2005.

But until a couple of months ago, I did not know he existed! Yes, I lead a sheltered life, but one would THINK that since Len travels to Denver sometimes on business, he would have mentioned Big Blue Bear at some point. He’s lived with over 300 bears for 30-odd years and knows very well I would want to know about this cool 40-ft high, 10,000 pound sculpture. Men!

 

“I See What You Mean”/Big Blue Bear was created by the late Lawrence Argent, an art professor at the University of Denver.

 

Continue reading

2018 Poetry Friday Archive

l. “His Favorite Blue Cup” by Stephen Dobyns

2. BLUE CORN SOUP by Caroline Stutson and Teri Weidner

3. CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?: Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

4. “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart” by Jack Gilbert

5. “Good Taste” by Michelle Holland

6. “Yaya’s Sweets” by Andrea Potos

7. LIBBA: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

8. “A Few Things I Ate” by Faith Shearin

9. WHEN PAUL MET ARTIE: The Story of Simon and Garfunkel by G. Neri and David Litchfield

10. WITH MY HANDS: Poems About Making Things by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson

11. Poetry Chat with Andrea Potos about Arrows of Light

12. WORLD MAKE WAY: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins

13. “when faces called flowers float out of the ground,” by E. E. Cummings

14. H IS FOR HAIKU: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z, by Sydell Rosenberg and Sawsan Chalabi

15. Five “blue” haiku by Issa

16. “The Bluebird” by Emily Dickinson + “What Gorgeous Thing” by Mary Oliver + Poetry Friday Roundup

17. FOOD TRUCK FEST! by Alexandra Penfold and Mike Dutton

18. Bob Dylan Birthday Blues

19. A IS FOR ASTRONAUT:  Blasting Through the Alphabet by Clayton Anderson and Scott Brundage

20. WRITE ON, IRVING BERLIN! by Leslie Kimmelman and David C. Gardner

21. “Relax” by Ellen Bass

22. “Summer Song” by William Carlos Williams, “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm,” By Wallace Stevens, and “Summer Stars” by Carl Sandburg

23. “Dream Teaching” by Edwin Romond

24. DREAMING OF YOU by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Aaron DeWitt

25. “Short-Order Cook” by Jim Daniels

26. BOOKJOY, WORDJOY by Pat Mora and Raul Colón

27. “The Tablecloth” by Gail Fishman Gerwin

28. MONSTER SCHOOL by Kate Coombs and Lee Gatlin

29. “From My Mother’s Kitchen: An Alphabet Poem,” by Pat Brisson

30. “Small Town Cashews” by Alberto Rios

31. “My Mother Goes to Vote” + Poetry Friday Roundup

32. “November” by Maggie Dietz

33. “Perfect for Any Occasion” by Alberto Rios

34. A MOVIE IN MY PILLOW/Una pelicula en mi almohada by Jorge Argueta and Elizabeth Gomez

35. CARLOS SANTANA: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World by Gary Golio and Rudy Gutierrez

36. “A Christmas Alphabet” by Carolyn Wells


*A link to this archive can be found in the sidebar of this blog

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

 

PERFECT FOR ANY OCCASION
by Alberto Ríos

1.

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.

 

2.

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)

 

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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?

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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.

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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. 🙂

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“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.