Sunday, June 14, 2009

Original Poetry Sunday - Pasta Alleluia – the Poem

It’s Sunday, which means it’s time for (more) original poetry. This week’s selection was written almost exactly a year ago & was one of a set of seven poems all based on a “food” theme. As is the case with many of the sequences I’ve written in my time, I intended more, but that didn’t happen. Pasta Allelulia is a real recipe, as regular readers here know. You can find the recipe in non poetic form here.

Please be sure to visit other Original Poetry Sunday participants:

Amazing Voyages of the Turtle
Apogee Poet
Poetikat’s Invisible Keepsakes
Premuin T.
Secret Poems from the Times Literary Supplement
Yes is Red

Kat’s poem at Poetikat & René Wing’s prose poem at Yes is Red are both from yesterday, but they count in my book. Also, please be sure to wish Kat a happy 2-year blog anniversary!

Pasta Alleluia

Lots of people I haven’t understood in this lifetime—
& I haven’t seen olive trees gesturing in breezes
overlooking the Mediterranean like evacuees from Bullfinch

except unmoving—the people I haven’t
understood in this lifetime but loved—& holding my hand a few
inches over the sauté pan I can tell the oil’s ready for the

garlic Eberle grew in the two rows she harvests in June—because the
people I loved I haven’t understood, I was busy thinking
about them—lightly browned, the garlic’s set aside, & chopped morels

our friends left for us added now with ground pepper—of all the
people I haven’t understood & have said I loved
—as the mushrooms wilt & soak up oil—

I haven’t walked where the forest burnt last summer, that’s
where the morels have sprouted amongst the blackened
lodgepole pine—of all the people I’ve loved

nearly the best & almost the worst & not
understood for a minute—& Eberle’s pensive in her garden
picking the spring mix—a simple balsamic dressing—of

all the people I haven’t understood & wanted to—
the chopped Kalamatas add lots of salt—about two dozen—&
the pine nuts & the oregano I never measure—

& Dani says, “I wouldn't wish writing poetry on anyone"—
tho there’s nothing else just now—keep the water at
a simmer so it’s ready for the pasta & it’s time

now—of all the people I haven’t loved well—a
guitar song I wrote for Eberle after a quarrel—the lonesome
train tracks leading everywhere past the Russian Olive groves

Los Angeles—on the guitar she gave me like
love itself she gave me—of all the people I’ve loved yes I’ve loved
some of them like a guitar perhaps—salting the water—

& there’s another language amongst people who love
& a language to speak about it—talking all night like an
alleluia like a mandocello—

the people I haven’t understood—the pasta’s drained &
tossed—this is so far the hardest poem
before the next poem in this lifetime

John Hayes
© 2008-2009


  1. This is wonderful. I can almost smell it.

  2. Love is something you make together - the image of morels sprouting from the burnt earth is very strong, as is "I've loved some of them like a guitar perhaps". I know what Dani means.

  3. Hi Karen & Sandra:

    Karen: Thanks so much!

    Sandra: There was a very large wildfire (eventually burning 25,000 acres) that started a few miles from where we live in 07--fortunately for us, after a run in our direction it turned north & east. In the wake of the fire, the 08 morrel crop was extremely good. & yes, Dani said some true words there.

  4. What a joy. I truly love this all about love... food-making, love-making, poem-making. I see Sandra's mention there about Dani's line, and I loved it too and how you come back to that at the end. making poems, loving, all of it takes so much opening of these creaky hearts, yes? I so enjoy your poems John, love "the pine nuts and the oregano I never measure." Perhaps it's all the measuring that gets so much in the way.

  5. I had to read this several times to discipline my mind into the prose of the recipe. How ingenious! Most clever. I enjoyed the edible pictures your words presented.

  6. Thanks For your edible blog post John!
    I listened to this Programme on BBC Radio this afternoon.

  7. Food and all the smells, textures, memories, and emotions that it whips up - so savory in its presentation here! Bon Appetite!

  8. I'm tired, so I'll have to come back and read it again (because it is so good), but I will say right off that I so understand that thread of "people I haven't understood in this lifetime, but loved" Oh,how I get that.

    Back tomorrow.


    P.S. Thanks for the mention.

  9. Howdy all: Sorrry to be so late in responding-- had a very busy day!

    René: Thanks so much-- yes, perhaps you're right about the measuring!

    Cathy: So glad you liked it!

    Tony: That looks like a good show; I'll give it a listen here in the next day or two. Thanks for dropping by, as always!

    Rose Marie: Thanks for your gracious response!

    Kat: You're welcome! To me, the line you quote is kind of the key-- that & the quote from Dani. Thanks!

  10. Funny isn't it? the connection between love and food and music, and the way you can reach people through food and music, and the way cooking for people or playing for them is a form of love, or a substitute for it. I did like the evacuees from Bullfinch and I had to discipline myself not to keep seeing treeses gesturing in breezes, as if Daphne was an escapee from a doctor seuss tale or a nursery rhyme. And i wouldn't wish poetry writing on anyone either.

  11. Hi Mairi:

    Glad you like the Bullfinch joke. The singer in our ol,d band, The Alice in Wonder Band used to rhyme "Breezes" & Treeses" whenever we did "Don't Fence Me In" ("I want to be by myself in the evening breeze(es), listen to the murmer of the cottonwood trees(es)")

  12. This is wonderful, John. Especially the weaving-in of the recipe, almost like a round.

    My favorite line:
    “I wouldn't wish writing poetry on anyone"


  13. Hi T: Glad you liked it! & as a poet yourself I can see why you might like that line.


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