friday feast: a rib tickler

“Barbecue sauce is like a beautiful woman. If it’s too sweet, it’s bound to be hiding something.” ~ Lyle Lovett


This ever happen to you?

You’re eating something healthy —  veggie stir fry, tofu salad, homemade granola — when suddenly, an innocent little voice whispers in your ear:

“baby back ribs.”

Of course you ignore it. You’re sticking to your plan. No meat for you.

You. Are. Strong.

But with your next purposeful, politically correct bite, the voice gets louder:

“Dry Rub.”

And louder:

“Sweet, Smoky, Spicy. Fall-off-the-bone tender. Lick your greasy fingers.”

You cover your ears, but


After a short pause


Continue reading

sunday bear: tony hoagland

“Dempster” by Steve Schutt (antique mohair, black shoe button eyes, hand puppet made by Jama, 1987)



The Loneliest Job in the World
by Tony Hoagland

As soon as you begin to ask the question, Who loves me?
you are completely screwed, because
the next question is How Much?

and then it is hundreds of hours later,
and you are still hunched over
your flowcharts and abacus,

trying to decide if you have gotten enough.
This is the loneliest job in the world:
to be an accountant of the heart.

It is late at night. You are by yourself,
and all around you, you can hear
the sounds of people moving

in and out of love,
pushing the turnstiles, putting
their coins in the slots,

paying the price which is asked,
which constantly changes.
No one knows why.

~ from Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty (Greywolf Press, 2010)


♥ This week’s Sunday Bear Hug is brought to you as always by Mr. Cornelius, who is busy counting his change. There can never be too much love in this world, he says, or hugs. Hug at least five people today, or the same person five times.



Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

friday feast: words of love

“Love is love’s reward.” ~ John Dryden

Happy almost Valentine’s Day!

We all know work, but sometimes we forget what it means to play. Busy busy lives, never enough time, voices saying, “should, must, do, finish, now.” Hurry! Pull this way, pull that. Do you ever feel guilty allowing yourself even the simplest of pleasures?

Next Tuesday, while you are remembering significant others, friends, and family with flowers, cards, and chocolates, pencil yourself in. Spread the love, but also take time to love yourself ♥ — enough to bask in the beauty, bathe in the moonlight, and do at least one thing that truly makes you happy.


by Tony Hoagland

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between “green thread”
and “broccoli,” you find
that you have penciled “sunlight.”

Resting on the page, the word
is beautiful. It touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent from someplace distant
as this morning—to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing

that also needs accomplishing.
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds

of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue,

but today you get a telegram
from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

—to any one among them
who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.

~ from Sweet Ruin by Tony Hoagland (University of Wisconsin Press, 1992), winner of the Brittingham Poetry Prize


My list:


What special word(s) are on your list?

♥ Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup Host is the lovely and talented Laura Salas (Writing the World for Kids), who’s celebrating her 24th wedding anniversary this week. Here’s a special song in honor of Laura and Randy, still a couple of kids getting lost in a morning star. We wish them at least  100 more happy years together. (Definitely on Laura’s list = love.)

Now, race over to Laura’s atop your white steed, wish her well, and enjoy all the wonderful poems being shared around the blogosphere today.

May time and light be abundant this weekend.

*Photo credit: wedding bouquet by A_wasp/flickr.


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

friday feast: toying with words

This post is dedicated to Little Willow and Jules of 7-Imp, who asked that I play a song for them on my newly tuned piano.

“To me, the piano in itself is an orchestra.” ~ Cecil Taylor

Margaret Leng Tan, internationally acclaimed toy piano diva


Hello. I will now tickle the ivories.

I’m going to play the one where I try to feed a squirrel peanut butter from the edge of my finger and he eagerly nips at it but then he has trouble swallowing it and kippity coughs the tiniest little cough ever that I fear I have choked him to death but then he recovers whew! *Bowing*

Did you like it? I played lots of songs like that when I was little. I had good piano hands, they all said. I’ve grown up married to keyboards.

At my computer, I try to tap out doodle-ee-doo and dum da dum and zwee zwees tinkily plink all by theirselves. Cue in ripple-n-run, buds blooming out melodies and sync syncopation suave and smooth.

What a life, to play stories.

Where’s the music? Listen to the spaces between the notes and words I caress and cajole out of my keyboard, blacks and whites. See the pictures. Feel the feels.

Poetry is music.

Music is poetry.

A keyboard is a keyboard. Play those notes, man, and create what you will. Play loud.


by Tony Hoagland

Play the one about the family of ducks
where the ducks go down to the river
and one of them thinks the water will be cold
but then they jump in anyway
and like it and splash around.

No, I must play the one
about the nervous man from Palestine in row 14
with a brown bag in his lap
in which a gun is hidden in a sandwich.

Play the one about the handsome man and woman
standing on the steps of her apartment
and how the darkness and her perfume and the beating of their hearts
conjoin to make them feel
like leaping from the edge of chance —

(Rest is here.)

Variations on many poetic themes can be found today at Becky’s Book Reviews.

CODA: Margaret Leng Tan turns toys into art, with a nod to the Beatles.


“Concerto for Toy Piano,” played by Keith Kirchoff, is here, if you like your stories highbrow.