Thursday, January 29, 2009

“Macaroni & Cheese” (the poem)

A couple of the wonderful folks who stop by Robert Frost’s Banjo regularly have been asking about my own poetry recently—something I certainly appreciate; & we were visiting our good friends Judy & Galen this weekend (up in the wilds of Lake Fork, ID), & while they regaled us with sushi made from fresh caught & smoked salmon, along with butternut squash soup & yam rolls, Judy asked why I wasn’t posting any of the poems I wrote early last summer.

It’s true that after a lay-off of almost a dozen years, I wrote poetry with a burst of intensity last June (& a bit into July) that would have been rare even back when I was writing constantly during the roughly 20 years between the mid 70s & the mid 90s. This was more startling because I’d consciously walked away from poetry in 1996, deciding that my relationship to poetic consciousness was simply too problematic to continue; it had struck me as being intertwined with a self-destructive streak I’ve battled for years—so I “put down the pen” (or, more literally, walked away from the keyboard) & took up the guitar. Between August of ’96 & last summer, I’d written one poem, which had served as lyrics for an Alice in Wonder Band song—I’ll post it here somewhere down the line.

Then last June rolled around, & for a few weeks I just couldn’t stop writing; the poems came freely. In retrospect, this was a time of crisis, which ultimately led to some wonderful changes, not least of which is Robert Frost’s Banjo itself. The poetic tap shut down as abruptly as it had opened, but I do have hopes of turning it on again in the not-too-distant future; lately I’ve been compiling a manuscript I intend to publish thru later this year, & it has me thinking more positively about poetry again.

So here I’ve gone & broken my rule about not introducing my own poems, & of posting more than one in a month—but that’s ok. The poem that follows is one I wrote for my wife Eberle this past June. As an aside, if any of you are interested in the non-poetic version of this recipe, you can find it on the blog here. Hope you enjoy the poem.


A C augmented chord huffing autumn thru a 12-button accordion
the evenings are guinea hen gray
                                            we have seen so much & forever is so
short a time really the gusts coming down off Council Mountain full of
geese & swans & now it’s March & you said
“You’re making a white sauce,” incredulously because I didn’t know
          any better

Yellow marimba mallets bouncing down a chromatic bass line the
tree you showed me where to plant is grown into goldfinches chirping
          all May—
6 tablespoons of butter melting in a copper pot with
                                            flour black pepper paprkia
the willow’s leaves the china jade & honey agate rosary beads the
tree of life—time is moving chromatic & crisp & hollow
along the wooden keys—“Dreaming on clouds of butter fat” you said—

Something about our life & the recipes found in a 1933 Fannie Farmer
Cookbook is both the same & alien—whisking the roux & the white
sky in July the smoke from the Snake River valley fires
inexorable as a freight train crossing Oregon
                                            as things breaking down
inside & 3 cups of milk which can be 2% fat if you wish

& things breaking down inside the body that is—the milk & flour
thickening in the whisk—a syncopated flute solo starting on low
E recalling how Yellow-headed Blackbirds
                                            sing guttural & vanish
“Is it really 6 cups of grated cheese?” you asked, astonished.
Yes I said yes & I meant it everlasting i.e. a lifetime is how many years the chokecherries scarlet in autumn the frozen fog sculpting the
          willow in

December the juncos foraging for seeds across the deck a layer of
macaroni (cooked al denté 1st – a layer of cheese—a layer of macaroni topped with cheese & white sauce—repeat—the stoneware
          pot baked at 400 roughly
45 minutes—you know when it’s done when you see it—
                                            I’ve said everything I meant
to say to you—a bowed bass trembling against your body—I’ve really
          said nothing


  1. Having been tapped for a Premio Dardos Award, I now pass the award along to you, in my admiration for your blog.

    "The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."

    The rules:
    “1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.
    2) Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.”

    Feel free to take the badge from my blog.

  2. Geez, thanks so much Jacqueline-- I'm touched by that. I gratefully accept, & will use my morning travels (every Thursday, "whether I need it or not") to pick the 5 blogs-- there are lots of worthy candidates.

    Thanks again-- I value you as a reader of RFB.

  3. wonderfully delicious bit of poetry!!!!! and I do love mac and cheese, but only homemade.

    thanks for breaking your rule! and the link to the recipe....

  4. Glad you enjoyed the poem-- & you're right, the boxed stuff that's sold as macaroni & cheese is really abominable. Of course my old-school Fannie Farmner based recipe probably has a week's worth of calories, but it tastes great. A stoneware pot is pretty important.


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.