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.

love and cashews at the five and dime

“In the dime stores and bus stations, people talk of situations, read books, repeat quotations, draw conclusions on the wall.” ~ Bob Dylan (Love Minus Zero/No Limit, 1965)

Back in the fifties, you could score an ice cream soda for a quarter at the main street five and dime. A king-size Coke would set you back 10 cents, a slice of apple pie, 15, and a ham sandwich, a whopping 30 cents.

This marvelous place carried just about everything you’d ever want or need — lipstick and lollipops, buttons and bar soap, diapers and daydreams. And the single best thing it offered was absolutely free: cherished stories to tell ever after about who you once were, what the world was like once upon a time.

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SMALL TOWN CASHEWS
by Alberto Ríos

Not Newberry’s. I loved Kress’s five and dime,
And the best thing in that store was the first counter on the left,

The popcorn machine, followed by glassed cabinets of nuts,
Mixed, separate, almonds, peanuts, candied, pistachios —

But the cashews were the ones. Warm, served in paper cones
Sodas used to come in, paper cones that fitted into holders

In the pharmacy soda fountain where I’d get a Coke
After school, waiting for my mother to get off work as a nurse,

Sitting there with my cornet in its blue case and glad
Not to be carrying it, a Coke, into which — what was her name?

Angie. The woman at the counter with the curly hair — she’d smile,
She’d get my Coke, and then she’d spill in some of the bright juice

From the maraschino cherry jar she normally used to make sundaes.
Cherry coke, she’d say, all those years ago, happy with herself

And for me: who wouldn’t love that? seemed plain enough
On her Angie face, and an invention good enough for me.

But the cashews in Kress’s: I once saw an older high school boy
Buy some for his high school girlfriend — she held them

And she smiled, looking at him, but I looked at the cashews
And never forgot, so that every time I went into Kress’s

I looked at the wooden cabinet that held the cashews
And wished the big pane of glass were not there,

That all those cashews were waiting just for me.
Go ahead, they said, every time I walked by:

What are you waiting for? Put your mouth right in.
Dive through. We’re all yours, every single one.

~ from A Small Story About the Sky (Copper Canyon Press), copyright © 2015 Alberto Ríos.

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Continue reading

[tasty poem + recipe] From My Mother’s Kitchen: An Alphabet Poem by Pat Brisson

#57 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

By now, most of you know I’m a big fan of abecedarian poems.

Of course I like the foodie ones best. But food that mom used to make? Even better!

Many of the foods in Pat Brisson’s poem kindled fond childhood memories — times when “homemade,” “family,” and “love” flavored each delectable mouthful and provided enough nourishment to last a lifetime.

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Cinnamon Tapioca Pudding via Thinking Outside the Sandbox (click for recipe)

 

FROM MY MOTHER’S KITCHEN: AN ALPHABET POEM
by Pat Brisson

Food my mother made for us
Food from A to Zed;
Food she baked and cooked and boiled
To keep her family fed.

Apple pie with a flaky crust made from Crisco,
Beef stew (with too much gristle),
Chocolate chip cookies from the Tollhouse recipe,
Dates stuffed with walnuts and coated with sugar,
Eggnog at Christmas time,
French toast with butter and cinnamon sugar,
Ginger ale (stirred until flat) for upset stomachs,
Hamburgers and hot dogs on the 4th of July,
Ice cream? Breyer’s coffee for her and Neapolitan for us,
Junket rennet custard, a slippery, slidey treat,
Ketchup on our meatloaf,
Ladyfingers with fresh strawberries and whipped cream,
Mincemeat pies at the holidays, (eaten only by the grown-ups),
Noodles, broad and buttery,
Oatmeal cookies flavored with lemon,
Potatoes, usually boiled,
Quick bread, mostly date and nut,
Ravioli from Chef Boyardee,
Spaghetti with meat sauce,
Tapioca pudding with cinnamon on top,
Upside down peach cake,
Vanilla pudding made from scratch, served over steamed apples and yellow cake,
Watermelon slices with too many seeds,
10X confectioners sugar dusted on top of lemon pound cake,
Yeast bread warm from the oven with butter melting into it,
Zwieback when we were very young.

Food my mother made for us
Food from A to Zed;
Food she baked and cooked and boiled
To keep her family fed.

~ posted by permission of the author, copyright © Pat Brisson; first appeared at Your Daily Poem, where you can find more of Pat’s poetry.

Strawberry Lady Shortcake via I’m Not a Cook

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Continue reading

remembering gail fishman gerwin

“The crown of life is neither happiness nor annihilation; it is understanding.” ~ Winifred Holtby

This week I’m thinking about and missing New Jersey poet friend Gail Gerwin, who died of cancer on October 3, 2016.

Some of you may remember Gail as a former Poetry Potluck guest from 2012, when she shared a poem from her poetic memoir Sugar and Sand (Full Court Press, 2009), along with her mother Cele’s Stuffed Cabbage recipe.

I credit Gail with piquing my interest in Jewish culture and cuisine, and we used to joke about my wanting to find a nice Jewish grandmother to adopt me. Kind, generous, and very loving, Gail was devoted to her family and was especially proud of her grandchildren, whom she referred to as “my raison d’être.”

 

Crowns is such a beautiful legacy for Gail’s grandkids.

 

Gail’s death came as a complete shock to me. I learned about it on Facebook while casually scrolling through my newsfeed one day. I had no idea she had been battling cancer, and it was devastating to hear that she was gone. Not too long before that she had emailed a photo of her grandson’s bar mitzvah, so I assumed all was well.

Continue reading

munching on “Short-Order Cook” by Jim Daniels

“Man who invented the hamburger was smart; man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius.” ~ Matthew McConaughey

 

“Cheeseburger” by Tjalf Sparnaay (oil on linen, 2012)

 

SHORT-ORDER COOK
by Jim Daniels

An average joe comes in
and orders thirty cheeseburgers and thirty fries.

I wait for him to pay before I start cooking.
He pays.
He ain’t no average joe.

The grill is just big enough for ten rows of three.
I slap the burgers down
throw two buckets of fries in the deep frier
and they pop pop, spit spit  . . .
pssss . . .
The counter girls laugh.
I concentrate.
It is the crucial point —
they are ready for the cheese:
my fingers shake as I tear off slices
toss them on the burgers/fries done/dump/
refill buckets/burgers ready/flip into buns/
beat that melting cheese/wrap burgers in plastic/
into paper bags/fried done/dump/fill thirty bags/
bring them to the counter/wipe sweat on sleeve
and smile at the counter girls.
I puff my chest out and bellow:
Thirty cheeseburgers! Thirty fries!
I grab a handful of ice, toss it in my mouth
do a little dance and walk back to the grill.
Pressure, responsibility, success.
Thirty cheeseburgers, thirty fries.

~ from Places/Everyone (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985)

“Bakje Patat” by Tjalf Spaarnay (oil on linen, 1999)

 

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Nothing beats the good feeling of a job well done. As Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield once said, “Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.”

Flipping burgers, a minimum wage job — nothing out of the ordinary. Yet it’s not every day one is asked to fill a thirty cheeseburger/thirty fries order, and I like how this particular short-order cook pulled if off with such aplomb.

Not letting the counter girls distract him, keeping his nerves in check, orchestrating every move as he jockeys burgers, cheese, buns, fries, wrapping and bagging — quite a feat. He had a system and it worked. Yes, he should be proud, munch on that ice and do a little dance!

There is no job too small to warrant our full attention. We make our own rewards. Chances are, none of the counter girls could have done what the short-order cook did, or as well. Sure, he had probably cooked dozens of cheeseburgers before, just not thirty all at once. But when the need arose, everything he had done up until then prepared him to meet that challenge.

The masterful cheeseburger and fries paintings in this post were created by Dutch megarealistic artist Tjalf Spaarnay. Yes, they look like photos, and give us the chance to re-examine ordinary foods we take for granted. I love how he has elevated fast food, showing it off in beautiful, meticulous, mouthwatering detail (french fries just happen to be Spaarnay’s favorite).

In his poem, Jim Daniels gave the often overlooked or undervalued fast food worker a moment in the spotlight, a good reminder to relish small victories because they keep us going and growing.

Okay, now I really want a cheeseburger with fries . . . and a little dessert, of course. 🙂

“De moorkop,” by Tjalf Spaarnay (2009)

 

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 🎉 BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNERS! 🎈

We are pleased to announce the following giveaway winners:

For a copy of DREAMING OF YOU by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Aaron DeWitt, the winner is:

 🎨 DIANE MAYR!! 🌺

And for a signed copy of DUMPLING SOUP by Jama Kim Rattigan and Lillian Hsu-Flanders + a $50 Amazon gift card, the winner is:

  🥢 KELLY D! 🍲

WooHoo! Congratulations to Diane and Kelly!!!

Thanks to everyone for all the great comments. Especially appreciate all the nice Happy Anniversary wishes. 🙂

More giveaways coming soon, so stay tuned!

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Erin is hosting the Roundup at The Water’s Edge. Twinkle toe on over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Happy Reading!

 


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