Wit on Rye: Paul Violi’s “Counterman”

photo by Baldomero Fernandez (Katz’s: Autobiography of a Delicatessen)<?em>

So, where’s the beef?

It all depends on who’s roasting it and how you order. Here’s to the many flavors of language, elevating the seemingly mundane into art, and having the appetite for a tasty serving of wit on rye.

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“Waiting at the Deli Counter” byJames Crandall

 

COUNTERMAN
by Paul Violi

What’ll it be?

Roast beef on rye, with tomato and mayo.

Whaddaya want on it?

A swipe of mayo.
Pepper but no salt.

You got it. Roast beef on rye.
You want lettuce on that?

No. Just tomato and mayo.

Tomato and mayo. You got it.
. . . Salt and pepper?

No salt, just a little pepper.

You got it. No salt.
You want tomato.

Yes. Tomato. No lettuce.

No lettuce. You got it.
. . . No salt, right?

Right. No salt.

You got it. Pickle?

No, no pickle. Just tomato and mayo.
And pepper.

Pepper.

Yes, a little pepper.

Right. A little pepper.
No pickle.

Right. No pickle.

You got it.
Next!

Roast beef on whole wheat, please,
With lettuce, mayonnaise and a center slice
Of beefsteak tomato.
The lettuce splayed, if you will,
In a Beaux Arts derivative of classical acanthus,
And the roast beef, thinly sliced, folded
In a multi-foil arrangement
That eschews Bragdonian pretensions
Or any idea of divine geometric projection
For that matter, but simply provides
A setting for the tomato
To form a medallion with a dab
Of mayonnaise as a fleuron.
And — as eclectic as this may sound —
If the mayonnaise can also be applied
Along the crust in a Vitruvian scroll
And as a festoon below the medallion,
That would be swell.

You mean like in the Cathedral St. Pierre in Geneva?

Yes, but the swag more like the one below the rosette
At the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.

You got it.
Next!

~ from Overnight (Hanging Loose Press, 2007)

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hotTEAs of Children’s Poetry: Kenn Nesbitt

Former Children’s Poet Laureate (2013-15) Kenn Nesbitt is the author of many books for kids, including “Kiss, Kiss Good Night,” “My Hippo Has the Hiccups,” “Revenge of the Lunch Ladies,” and many others. Kenn travels the country, visiting more than 60 schools each year, sharing his wacky brand of poetry with kids nationwide, and helping to create a new generation of poetry lovers. His website, poetry4kids.com, is the most visited children’s poetry website on the Internet. (pictured here with his favorite mug, given to him by the Guam Chapter of the International Reading Association)

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: I am a huge coffee fan. I love the taste of a nice dark roast, and I appreciate all of the good news lately about the health benefits of coffee. My go-to coffee is San Francisco Bay Organic Rainforest Blend. My wife and I make a pot of it every morning, and I like it with a couple of tablespoons of heavy whipping cream.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: My most recent book is Believe it or Not, My Brother Has a Monster, illustrated by David Slonim, published by Scholastic in 2015. My next book is an anthology of over 140 poems entitled One Minute Till Bedtime, with brand new poems from more than 130 children’s poets from around the world. It will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in November 2016.

 

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Easily my favorite food-related children’s book is William Cole’s hilarious anthology, Poem Stew. It’s a collection of humorous poems about food that is now, sadly, out of print, though used copies are easy to find online.

☕ Find Kenn Nesbitt online at Poetry4kids.com, on Twitter: @poetry4kids, and at his FB Page.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Enjoy one of Ken’s poems!

 

Our Teacher’s Not a Zombie

Our teacher’s not a zombie.
He’s not the living dead,
although he’s looking ragged
and his eyes are rather red.

He shuffles to the classroom.
He slowly drags his feet.
He shambles to the whiteboard
looking broken-down and beat.

We listen to his plaintive moans.
We see the way he strains.
We hear him mumble mournfully
about the students’ brains.

But we know not to worry.
We never get upset.
He’s always like this when he
hasn’t had his coffee yet.

~Copyright © 2016 Kenn Nesbitt. All rights reserved.

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Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.