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


by Alberto Ríos


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.



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)



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?


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.


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. 🙂


“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.

“November” by Maggie Dietz

“La Belle Jardiniere – November” by Eugène Grasset (1896)


Ah, November!

The eleventh month often gets a bad rap. Sometimes described as “somber,” “gloomy,” or “dreary,” it’s neither here nor there.

October, with its splendid, crisp days and peak foliage is quintessential autumn —  a very hard act to follow. As Anne Shirley famously said, “I’m glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Poor November. Shock of color gone, trees showing their bare bones, chilly winds — suddenly we’re reminded of year’s end, darkness to come. We reflect on our unmet resolutions, mourn the transience of time. At least December has much to distract us with its holiday cheer and bustle, a winter welcome tied with a pretty red bow.

And yet.


“Autumn Leaves” by John Everett Millais (1856)


Good things happen in November. It’s my birthday month (as well as Len’s, my dad’s and brother-in-law’s). It’s a time to honor veterans (like my mom), and of course, there’s Thanksgiving, when the house smells of spiced cider, roast turkey, homemade pies, squash and pumpkin everything.

A time for gathering in, but also gathering together. Expressing gratitude. Feasting. Who wouldn’t love a month where food takes center stage?

So I’m okay with this take stock, get ready, fortify yourself month. It’s my chance to bask in the fading light and exquisite melancholy. Shorter days? More time for reading and dreaming. 🙂



“November Freshet” by John Ottis Adams (1897)


by Maggie Dietz

Show’s over, folks. And didn’t October do
A bang-up job? Crisp breezes, full-throated cries
Of migrating geese, low-floating coral moon.

Nothing left but fool’s gold in the trees.
Did I love it enough, the full-throttle foliage,
While it lasted? Was I dazzled? The bees

Have up and quit their last-ditch flights of forage
And gone to shiver in their winter clusters.
Field mice hit the barns, big squirrels gorge

On busted chestnuts. A sky like hardened plaster
Hovers. The pasty river, its next of kin,
Coughs up reed grass fat as feather dusters.

Even the swarms of kids have given in
To winter’s big excuse, boxed-in allure:
TVs ricochet light behind pulled curtains.

The days throw up a closed sign around four.
The hapless customer who’d wanted something
Arrives to find lights out, a bolted door.

~ from That Kind of Happy (University of Chicago Press, 2016).



Maggie Dietz received a BA from Northwestern University and an MA from Boston University. She is the author of That Kind of Happy (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and Perennial Fall (University of Chicago Press, 2006), winner of the 2007 Jane Kenyon Award from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Dietz has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and Phillips Exeter Academy, among others. She previously served as director of Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project, coediting three anthologies related to the project. She currently teaches at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell and lives in New Hampshire.



The beautiful, talented, and exceedingly clever Michelle Barnes is hosting the Roundup at Today’s Little Ditty. With bed head and election results, she’s somewhat of a basket case this week, sharing fab poems with commentary. And do I love all the bear talk? Why yes, yes I do. Check out the full menu of poetry goodness and have a delicious Novemberish weekend.

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

nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Don’t forget to vote in today’s critical midterm elections!

This cool poster was created by Missouri artist Mary Engelbreit and is available as a free download from her official website. The image fits on an 11″ x 17″ size sheet.


2. Some of you may know that my mother served in the Women’s Army Corps during WWII. She was one of the first 59 women from Hawai’i to enlist (she wrote about her experiences in this short chronology).

Just so happens Maryland author Ann McCallum read my post about Margaret not too long ago and asked to include her in a new book she was writing about women in the U.S. Army. This past summer, I shared more information and photos via email with Ann, who wrote a chapter about Margaret.

Ann recently shared the final cover of the book on social media — what a surprise to see Margaret’s photo right on the front! I know my mother would be thrilled and amazed. Women Heroes of the U.S. Army will be published in July 2019 — can’t wait to see it! Pretty cool, no? 🙂


3. Speaking of notable women, check out this cool print by Massachusetts illustrator Karen Hallion. Her first “She Series” collage features these 9 kickass role models:

Wonder Woman
Rey from Star Wars
Princess Leia
Anne of Green Gables
Angelica Schulyer from the musical Hamilton
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Okoye from Black Panther

You can purchase this 11″ x 14″ open edition print at Karen’s Etsy Shop — a great place to browse, especially if you’re a Star Wars, Harry Potter, Buffy or steampunk fan. Each of these female heroes is also available separately as small 8″ x 10″ signed Lustre prints.


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poetry friday roundup is here

“The right is ours. Have it we must. Use it we will.” ~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Happy November and Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

Here we are,  just a few days away from the most important midterm elections of our lifetimes.

It is a difficult, frustrating, disheartening, enraging, frightening time to be female in this country. Yet it is also an empowering, illuminating, pivotal moment for us.

The 2017 Women’s March was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, with an estimated 3 million people participating across the country. With the current #MeToo movement, we are finally seeing some real-world consequences of the longstanding, widespread problem of sexual assault and harassment.



Where the system failed, when there are wrongs to be righted, women have and will continue to step up to the plate — and ultimately to the polls. Let’s not forget the courageous women who battled over half a century for our constitutional right to vote.

Anger + Anguish → Activism

On Tuesday there will be a record number of female candidates on the ballot — running for Congress, governorships and other positions in state legislatures. Several are poised for major breakthroughs for women of color.


🇺🇸 Big Blue Wave coming, powered by fierce women. 🇺🇸


Art copyright © 2018 Matthew Cordell


Because corruption, hypocrisy, misogyny, entitlement, racism, cruelty, oppression, subjugation, abuse, assault.


The right is ours:

to speak, to be heard and be believed
to peacefully protest
to advocate for reproductive, workers’, religious, and LGBTQ rights, healthcare and immigration reform
to fight for environmental protections and common sense gun laws

“Women’s Rights” are HUMAN RIGHTS


Turn the Tide Vote Blue original wave by Melissa Iwai/Pen and Ink Brigade 2018 (click to purchase)


It’s time for the old guard to step aside. Powerful individuals in elected office have been paid big bucks to run the show for a long time and they’ve messed things up royally. Congress is broken. All three branches of government are now controlled by one political party, a party that once stood for family values and “high moral and ethical standards.” Now splintered, corrupt beyond reason and totally unrecognizable, this party has been hijacked by an immoral, destructive, crooked con man who profits off the presidency. What happened to checks and balances? What happened to the honor of public service, civil discourse and common decency?

A pox on self interest, big egos, personal agendas, revenge politics, gaslighting, attacks on the free press and blatant, toxic, pathological LYING. A pox on rich, hypocritical, complicit officials and Supreme Court nominees playing the victim card.



When a woman summons up the courage to tell her truth, testifying under oath, why isn’t her word good enough, but a man’s is?

When a woman speaks out against injustice, she’s considered a shrill, hysterical shrew. When a man does the same, it’s an act of bravery.

Men don’t like being called out for what they’ve gotten away with for centuries. And the guilty ones stick together.

A time of reckoning has arrived; women will not be silenced.

Let’s transform our rage into a tsunami of VOTES for positive change.

Do not dismiss us, or relegate us to the corner sitting in kiddie chairs. We will decide for ourselves.




by Judith Harris

We walked five blocks
to the elementary school,
my mother’s high heels
crunching through playground gravel.
We entered through a side door.

Down the long corridor,
decorated with Halloween masks,
health department safety posters —
we followed the arrows
to the third grade classroom.

My mother stepped alone
into the booth, pulling the curtain behind her.
I could see only the backs of her
calves in crinkled nylons.

A partial vanishing, then reappearing
pocketbook crooked on her elbow,
our mayor’s button pinned to her lapel.
Even then I could see — to choose
is to follow what has already
been decided.

We marched back out
finding a new way back down streets
named for flowers
and accomplished men.
I said their names out loud, as we found

our way home, to the cramped house,
the devoted porch light left on,
the customary meatloaf.
I remember, in the classroom converted
into a voting place —
there were two mothers, conversing,
squeezed into the children’s desk chairs.

~ copyright © 2018 Judith Harris


Art by Monika Forsberg


It’s no longer a matter of red vs. blue, but of right vs. wrong. How we vote on Tuesday will determine who we are as a country.


Now, please leave your poetry-related links with Mr. Linky below. Don’t forget to put the name of the poem or title of the book you’re sharing in parentheses after your name. Enjoy the delicious variety of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Thanks for joining us!!




Art copyright © 2018 Ashley Wolff



“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. Every truth we see is ours to give the world, not to keep for ourselves alone, for in so doing we cheat humanity out of their rights and check our own development.”

— Elizabeth Cady Stanton (from an 1890 speech to the National American Woman Suffrage Association)

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.



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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