Lesléa: I was on a self-imposed week-long writing retreat, between projects, not knowing what on earth to write about. When in doubt, I always turn to poetry and when in double doubt, I frequently turn to form.
“Ode to Chocolate” is a variation on the ghazal, one of my favorite forms. The ghazal originated in Persia, and literally means “the talk of boys and girls” or sweet talk. I took the notion of “sweet talk” literally and decided to write a love poem to one of my great loves — chocolate! The form of the ghazal uses internal rhyme and a refrain at the end of the second line of each couplet. It does not tell a story like a narrative poem, but is unified by theme.
“Peace goes into the making of a poem, as flour goes into the making of bread.” ~ Pablo Neruda
The other day, after rereading Lesléa Newman’s, “According to Bread,” one of my favorite poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School(Pomelo Books, 2013), chewy, mouthwatering bread names playfully called to me, each a poem unto itself.
I must say you’re even more good looking today than you were last week. How is that even possible?!
I see by the twinkle in your eye that you’re hungry for good words and good food. You’ve definitely come to the right place. Please help yourself to some freshly brewed Kona coffee and homemade mango bread. 🙂
♥ TODAY’S POEM ♥
Actually, I’m on a mango kick this week. I reviewed the breathtakingly beautiful Moon Mangoes the other day, and today I’m sharing Lesléa Newman’s mouthwatering “Mangoes” from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School,compiled by poetry goddesses Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books, 2013).
Though I’m a tad extremely partial to Week 10 (Food) and Week 11 (More Food) in the anthology, I was thrilled when Lesléa’s poem appeared as a delicious surprise in Week 31 (Different Forms) for Seventh Grade (page 165).
“Mangoes” is a ghazal, an Arabic lyric poem that incorporates the repetition of the same ending word in each couplet. When it comes to mangoes, Lesléa is a poet after my own heart, for her chosen end word is “heaven.” What better way to describe that luscious golden fruit personifying the sun-drenched days of summer?
Peel it back, cutie pies, and let those juices drip down your chin.
MANGOES by Lesléa Newman
I’ve got to know before I go,
do mangoes grow in heaven?
Without that treat that tastes so sweet
don’t want no seat in heaven.
If there ain’t none — at least a ton —
won’t be no fun in heaven.
If they substitute another fruit
I’ll give the boot to heaven.
A mango a day like the good doctor say
and I’ll make my way to heaven.
Will a mango slide through my fingers and glide
down my throat as I float up to heaven?
Now say for real, are there mangoes to steal
and peel on the way up to heaven?
If you say no, Lesléa won’t go —
no mangoes isn’t heaven!
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Trust me, you need to make this mango bread sometime soon. It’s super moist, not overly sweet (golden raisins!), and is even better the next day.
The recipe calls for diced mango, but I put mine in the food processor because I like even distribution of fruit in my bread. Since my mangoes were medium ripe, the consistency was sort of like grated carrots. Choice of nuts is up to you — unsalted macadamias are divine and add a nice Hawaiian flavor. 🙂
Mmmm Good Mango Bread (makes one loaf)
2 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 1-1/2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons cinnamon 3 eggs 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1-1/2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 cup golden raisins 1/2 cup chopped nuts 2 cups diced mango 1/4 cup flaked coconut (optional)
1. Grease a one pound loaf pan or a bundt pan.
2. Sift flour, soda, salt and cinnamon into large mixing bowl. Make a well and add the remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
3. Pour into pan and let stand for 20 minutes.
4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour.
(adapted from A TASTE OF ALOHA by the Junior League of Honolulu, 1983)
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P.S. Happy 72nd Birthday to my man Bob Dylan! He’s knock knock knockin’ on heaven’s door — probably checking for mangoes.
Have a fabulous holiday weekend, and thanks for poetry-ing with us. Hello, Summer!