Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poetry: Almost Unnoticed

Phew! I thought we'd never get here!! It's been a long month, people. I'm not in love with most of the poems I've posted - to be honest, there were quite a few days when I approached the poetry-writing task with a 'just get-her-done' attitude . . . and the results were, well, what would be expected - but, looking back at all 30 poems, there are at least 3 or 4 I genuinely like and think could be pretty decent given a little more time, thought, and revising (e.g., Pirate's Treasure, Monotony, How to Whistle in Prison, and Poking the Dead).

I think I'll look back at this experience as a sort of poetry boot camp - tough, but it reinforced a discipline in my creative writing habits that had waned quite a bit (perhaps to the point of nonexistence!). I have certainly learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses in poetry writing and enjoyed incorporating more creative time into my life. I'm looking forward to writing more poetry without the pressure of daily deadlines. For one thing, it will certainly open up length possibilities - you just can't write anything longer than a few stanzas every day when you've also got a day job!

And one last note - the Academy of American Poets is promoting Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day today. Print out some of the poems they have posted, or print a few of your own favorites, and spread the love! Since I don't get out much myself (since I freelance from home), I'm going to direct people to this blog to share the poems I've created over the past month. (So, I guess my blog is moonlighting as a pocket today.)

I'd also like to suggest you check out some of the work of my favorite poets if you're looking to explore the world of poetry a little more; they are Sharon Olds, Rita Dove, and Louise Gluck.

And here is my own 30th and final poem for the poetry pledge drive, an endorsement for just getting out there and WRITING!

Almost Unnoticed

They say start
At the beginning. I say start
Where you find yourself.
I say be bad at something
You want to be good at
Until you're good or until you
Don't care about being good
Anymore. No more
Perfect words. Just words -
Whichever ones come and please
You. Tell the story, perhaps not
Aching to be told, but sitting still,
Almost unnoticed.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poetry: The Love Lesson of the Lemming

Here is poem # 29 for the poetry pledge drive - a love poem . . . ? It's about the cliche and ubiquity of 'I love you' but also about not letting that keep you from making the leap of faith for as long as it may last.

The picture is of me skydiving about 6 years ago (I'm the one on the bottom). I thought it suited the imagery.

The Love Lesson of the Lemming

It's been said, it's been said, it's been said!
Who hasn't said it? Everyone you have
Ever met? Your mother? The grocer?
The train wreck? Why do we all clamor
To be the next lemmings, all convinced
We can fly?

But I've felt that rush from the free-
Fall; I know how the lemming feels
Before impact, how time stretches,
How falling is flying, how everything is
Fine if you don't think
It will end.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poetry: Big Hair

I promised a limerick this month, didn't I? (Dammit.) Limericks, which are traditionally bawdy, can be really fun - especially when they're also a little witty. I'm not feeling particularly witty today, though, so you'll have to settle for self-deprecating humor.

Here you are, poem # 28 for the poetry pledge drive, a limerick, a 'shout-out' to my home town. Yes, as a teenager in the 80's, I did indeed have . . .

Big Hair

There once was a girl from Revere
Who had such extremely big hair.
When asked to be clever,
She said, "Well, I never!"
Before flashing her underwear.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Poetry: Along the Dotted Line

Here is poem # 27 for the poetry pledge drive. In this time of recession and pinching pennies, I give you a piece inspired by coupons.

Along the Dotted Line

For his birthday, or Valentine's
Day, or just because
He deserves it, make him

A love coupon book.
Nothing expresses undying
Affection like coupons. (Void
Where prohibited.)

Include some free naughty
Rendezvous - at least a few
Pages' worth. (Not redeemable
For cash value.)

And a get-out-of-the
Dog-house-free page
For those days

You may regret
Having made the book
For him. (Limit one
Per customer.)

He'll appreciate the thought
You put into it - nothing
Like something handmade
To show you care. (Cut

Along the dotted line.)
Perhaps he'll even return
The gesture some day.
(At participating locations

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Meatless Monday: Carrot Soup

In a previous post, I mentioned that we were starting to get a box of fresh fruits and veggies from a local farm once a week. So far, it's working out pretty well. Well, pretty well with one exception. Every week so far, in with all the other things in the box, has been a rather large bunch of carrots.

Now, don't get me wrong, carrots are great! Love 'em. Really. It's just that, well, it's been kind of difficult to get through the big bunch of them in one week's time before the next bunch is sitting there in the vegetable crisper drawer in the refrigerator taunting me - "Vhat vill you do vith me dis time, ehhh?" (Yes, my carrots have a very bad Russian/French-Canadian accident.) And, you know - lather-rinse-repeat - I don't want to make the same things with them over and over. Sure, they're great by themselves or with a dip as a snack or hors d'oeuvre, they're yummy shredded and sprinkled in salad, you know how much I love them in carrot cake (see post), and most of us know about their magic in mirepoix (a.k.a., the holy trinity), but, um, . . . yea, then what?

My recent culinary adventure with carrots involved this next recipe for soup, which my husband really loved. I'm happy to share it with you, but then I'm going to have to ask for a little quid pro quo. Seriously, we're talking LARGE bunches of carrots every week for three weeks straight, . . . and I suspect I'll see more come Tuesday. I need your suggestions for other great carrot recipes!

Carrot Soup

The recipe author encourages you to play with the consistency until you're happy with it. We made ours pretty smooth and I would recommend that to you too. Why? Because it's great in a bread bowl that way, that's why! Mmm, bread bowls can make even the best soups that much better. I highly recommend. We picked up a couple of sourdough ones at Panera and were really happy with them. After cutting off the top of the little round loaf and coring out the middle, I toasted mine before filling it with soup. *Drool* So good.

The recipe also suggests you experiment with different finishing oils. That's a great idea (and a little evoo did taste good with ours), but I would also recommend adding a dash of vinegar to sharpen the soup flavors and balance it out a little better.

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday soup posts:

Pea Soup
Curried Lentil Soup
Tortellini, White, Bean & Spinach Soup

Other Meatless Monday posts

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poetry: Hungry Fencers

Here is poem # 26 for the poetry pledge drive which was inspired by something I do on the weekends.

Hungry Fencers

Don’t look at me,

(En garde)

You were the one

Who was supposed to

Pick it up.


Yes, but you were the one

Who was supposed to

Place the order.

(Parry, riposte)

Right, but you were

Supposed to leave me

A note with what you wanted.

(Parry, passé)

You mean this

Note, right here?

(Touché )

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Poetry: Cake Days

I have cooking on the brain because I just recently got in from a cooking class, so it should be no surprise then that my poem # 25 for the poetry pledge drive is cooking related (on one level anyway).

Cake Days

The cake will come out perfect -
Sliding smoothly out
Of the pan, even on all sides,
Moist and melting

On your tongue. No crumbs
Will get in the frosting as
You ice. People on diets
Will take seconds and hope
No one notices. I promise,

You will have days like this.

The next day, you may burn
The toast, accidentally crack
The egg yolks, the whites

Coming out like rubber, the timing
All wrong, your juice
Glass more than half-empty
Before your plate is

But you can
Remember the cake.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poetry: Sweating Loss

Here is poem # 24 for the poetry pledge drive. It's the last week of the pledge drive and I'm grasping at straws for ideas for new poems every day at this point. As if the haiku weren't bad enough, I now give you . . . a mad lib. That's right. I've stooped that low.

I randomly started a poem leaving blanks that needed to be filled in and then asked my husband for a person, noun, color, etc. to fill in those blanks. If you remember these things from your childhood, you'll remember that they often turn out funny, surreal, or at least a little bit interesting because the unexpected words create unconventional visual images. Unfortunately, this didn't turn out to be satisfying in any of those ways. But what it did do was make me realize I kind of knew what I wanted in those blanks in the first place, so it ended up working as an exercise to counter writer's block.

I've included both the version with which my husband 'helped' (the fill-in-the-blank words are bolded) and my rewrite for your amusement. (I'm still not sure which one's worse!)

The Farmer's Chili
Over and over
Again I asked the farmer
To open the chili before

The shoes suffocate,
Gasping for ecru air,
Sweating confusion,

Sweating Loss
Over and over
Again I asked the nurse
To open the window before

The visitors suffocate,
Gasping for grey air,
Sweating sympathy,

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poetry: Misunderstood

Here is poem # 23 for the poetry pledge drive. Think of it as an asshole's elevator break-up speech. It's lacking a lot of visual imagery, I know, but it does capture the shit-heel sentiments pretty accurately. So, for now, just consider this the skeletal sketch of a poem that will become fully fleshed out at a later date.


Assholes commit this
To memory:

"For the record, I never said
I knew where this was
All going. I told you I was
Selfish and not very likely
To commit. Love is just
Something that's not
Built to last, and I am
Sad about that too. I'm sorry
You misunderstood me."

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poetry: Be Heard

Here is poem # 22 for the poetry pledge drive.

Be Heard

I would wish this on anyone -
The danger of knowing

Too much. Let them fear
You, gnash their teeth

At night, look over their shoulders
Cowering. Want to know more

Than they want you to, crack open
Every book, entertain the ideas

Of heretics, demand every voice
Be heard.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poetry: Barefoot

Here is poem # 21 for the poetry pledge drive, which was inspired by an article that a friend posted earlier today.


They say expensive sneakers
Cause more injuries and don't

Help us to be better

Runners, say we're better
Off running with nothing on

Our feet like our ancestors; our toes
Give us more control.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Poetry: Pirate's Treasure

Here is poem # 20 for the poetry pledge drive. This one is about one of my least favorite experiences.

Pirate's Treasure

They study the blue
Lines snaking
Just under the surface -

My pale arm a pirate's
Treasure map.

I explain how elusive
It is, what they're looking for.
I point out where

Others have tried
And look away, whistling,
Wishing them luck.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Meatless Monday: Pumpkin-Honey Beer Quick Bread

You know those treats that someone else you know and love makes, that you don't have very often but are willing to beg, borrow, barter, or kill for? This next recipe is for one of those treats.

Pumpkin-Honey Beer Quick Bread

My husband made this recipe for me for the first time just last year and it immediately earned a place on my top-10 dessert list. It's super easy to make, and the flax seed makes it come out really moist. I love to have it with a smear of cream cheese on it while it's still hot. *drool*

Matt also had the great idea of putting a bottle of honey beer with a small bag of flax seed inside a stack of three small disposable bread pans, wrapping a print-out of this recipe on nice paper around it, and tying it together with a pretty ribbon for small gifts last holiday season. That boy - always thinking, always thoughtful. He shared it then, . . . and I'm sharing it with you now. Consider it my early early 2009 holiday present to you!

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Poetry: Resilience

Here is poem #19 for the poetry pledge drive, which was inspired by a few things - watching my husband work in the garden today, hearing about evictions in the news, having just said goodbye to someone who is moving tomorrow, and thinking about moving myself.

I'm trying hard not to look back at what I've posted so far, not to judge and compare each piece, but I can't seem to help it. The danger of doing it is that it can be tantamount to writing an engraved invitation to writer's block, but it can also open your eyes to bad writing habits you need to break, weaknesses you need to overcome, etc.

So far, two things of which I've become acutely aware are that my imagery could stand to be more subtle yet stronger and that the meter and cadence of my lines truly suck. To remedy the former, I know I need to use less obvious and more vivid and evocative language. Fixing the latter is going to prove to be a challenge though. I look forward to analyzing that problem a little more closely when I evaluate all 30 of these poems at the end of the month. Lord knows what else I'll discover in the process . . . .


As the season changes -
A tap on the shoulder - you turn
Over the soil, and the earth starts

To crawl. Evicted but not put out,
The pill bugs get straight to work navigating
The new terrain. Things that could have been

Much worse are fine. In the fetal position,
They still find good shelter. When we move,
I hope to remember this.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Poetry: Yankees Suck

Okay, I'm pretty much 'phoning it in' with this poem #18 for the poetry pledge drive today. I'm sorry - but, at some point, writing a poem a day is just going to sap every last creative juice out of you, . . . and I'm going to say THIS is that point. With any luck I'll get a second wind though, so continue to stay tuned.

Yankees Suck

A new curse is born.
The Indians' arms have grown
Tired from the swinging.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poetry: Monotony

Poem #17 for the poetry pledge drive is brought to you by the tedium of routine, inspired by another long drive on the 118. It needs considerable tweaking, but I'm tired and my pillow is calling.


I could cherish the familiar more
If it didn't involve wasting away
Endless hours traveling
In the same circles. How many
More times

Will my tires turn on the corner?
All the things I wash will be dirty
Again soon enough. I will climb

Into the tub with a bottle in hand
To clean the things I clean with. I will drink

My weight in water, eyes swimming,
Teeth floating. I will sweep away dead
Leaves that will come back, faithful
Dogs with their sticks.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Poetry: Under the Green Bridge

Here is poem #16 for the poetry pledge drive. It was inspired by a scene I saw while dining outside at The Simon Pearce Restaurant at the mill in Quechee, VT last year.

Under the Green Bridge

Just beyond the waterfall, under
The green bridge, the teenagers
Meet, the young man and woman arriving
Separately, greeting each other
With shy smiles. She tests the waters,
Dipping one toe; showing great form,
He does backflips hoping to impress
Her. Breathless and clutching wet towels
Awkwardly, they will eventually leave,
But not until the sun has gone
Down, has stopped providing warmth.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Poetry: Leisure

Here is poem #15 for the poetry pledge drive. Can it be I've really made it halfway?? . . . I don't know whether to be proud of myself for getting this far or overwhelmed by the thought that I've got another two weeks to go. Maybe it's best if I not think about it too much . . .


Sleeping in my favorite chair,
As I work, whiskers twitching,
A curl of fur, head turned
Upside down, like an artist trying
To get new perspective,
In her dreams. She has
The full benefit of leisure.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Poetry: Ghost Eyes

Here is poem #14 for the poetry pledge drive. This one was a tough one to write because I kept getting all choked up. Nothing like poetry to dredge up all kinds of feelings and memories. Seriously, therapy and prescription drugs are overrated. Just go write yourself some poetry and have a glass of wine.

Ghost Eyes

People often ask me about the ring I put on
For special occasions - convex and sparkling, two
Strange ghost eyes set side by side. I would stare
As my grandmother carefully held her teacup
And me, gesturing with animated fingers, usually

To punctuate a curse. She promised me the ring
Because I'd always liked it, but I didn't
Feel right about it. I never

Will. It was given to me
As a surprise for my birthday -
Two eyes in a box staring up at me two years
Too soon, because she wasn't going to make it
To my graduation.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Poetry: Persistence

Here is poem # 13 for the poetry pledge drive. I'd started on another poem that was never going to be done today, so, in desperation, I turned to the haiku again because I knew I could churn one out quickly. I'd like to say I won't make a habit of it, . . .but I've got 18 more posts to go (I'm not even at the halfway mark yet!), so I'm not making any promises.


Life breaks the boundaries.
The neighbor's fence slats give way
When the sun insists.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Meatless Monday: Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Last week, my husband and I picked up our first box of fresh fruits and veggies from Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark (CA) as part of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program that we joined. Now, weekly, we'll be getting a mystery box of delicious, locally-grown produce that was harvested from the field just the day before. Let me tell you, I have not tasted such fresh fruits and veggies in a LONG time. Yum! Seriously, it's remarkable just how good everything has been. It's as if my taste buds had completely forgotten how fruits and veggies were really supposed to taste. And it was so fun to open the box not knowing what might be inside. (Of course, it will be a selection of what's in season every time, but it's still a surprise.) This week, it was spinach, purple cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, Easter radishes, leeks, Albion strawberries, romaine lettuce, and red leaf lettuce.

The box is bigger than it may appear here. You can only see one layer, but there's an entire other layer under there. In other words, it's a whole lot of fruit and veggies for only two people to get through in just one week! But we're up for the challenge. If anything, it should make it more likely that we get our daily recommended servings of fruits and veggies. And hopefully, it will also mean that we end up eating more fruits and veggies than meat, choosing healthier snacks, and making more really great recipes like this next one.

Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese Bruschetta

This recipe was a great choice for us this week because it made use of two of our CSA box ingredients - spinach and strawberries - and also because . . . it calls for goat cheese! In an earlier post, I mentioned how much I love goat cheese, so it's not surprising that I've since posted a couple of recipes with goat cheese in them. What is surprising is that it's taken me so long to share this particular recipe containing goat cheese with you because it's one of my favorites. I was also surprised to realize that, since this regular Meatless Monday post started with its first post back in October, I haven't introduced even one leafy salad recipe (although there have been a few other types of salad recipe posts). So, in short, I'm overdue in sharing this with you and, for that, I apologize. (And I do feel the need to apologize - people, it's that good!)

Three notes about this recipe: 1) be very careful when toasting the almonds; if you don't watch closely, they'll burn before you can blink an eye; 2) use baby spinach if you can because it's more tender; and 3) did I mention this stuff is delicious? Even the salad dressing on its own is so good you might consider carrying a secret flask of it in an inside pocket, dabbing it behind your ears, writing it a love letter, . . . or, at the very least, using it on other sorts of salads too.

With the California Strawberry Festival just around the corner, I definitely see more of this salad in my immediate future. . . . That's right, Albion, I've got my eye on you!

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Poetry: Minnows

Here is poem # 12 for the poetry pledge drive. I'm going to click 'publish' before I look at it again and decide I need to change it . . . again.


I had made a new friend, someone
Who was just visiting for the day, I wasn't
Used to being the one in charge, I didn't know
Where to go or what to do, so I decided
To show her the minnows

Swimming. The marsh grasses were tall,
The air thick with the smell of sea
Life. I pointed out the tiny creatures

Darting this way and that
In the narrow creek. She'd slipped
From the bank before I could
Catch her, but I did fish her out.
I pulled her mud-slick body back

Up over the edge. Luckily, it was low

Tide and the water only ever got her
Pants wet to the knees. But the mud -
The mud was everywhere. We tracked it

Behind us all the way,
A guilty trail to my grandmother's feet,
Where I got a smack on the fanny before
She sent me home
Alone. Upon reaching my house,

I knocked on my own front door, filthy
And terrified. My mother was already waiting
Towel in her hands like when I'd come in from playing
In the snow. I'll always remember how it felt
To be grounded for the first time.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Poetry: Between My Toes

I'm on my way out the door, so I'm going to post this poem # 11 for the poetry pledge drive quickly. I hate to keep apologizing for each of my poetry posts, but I am genuinely not happy with this one. If I weren't in such a hurry, I'd spend a little more time with it before posting. Thankfully, I'm getting a little more used to letting go with these though, which I suppose is part of the purpose of making yourself participate in one of these sorts of things - you're forced to give the perfectionism a rest and just get writing.

Between My Toes

We were told not to
Let the sprinkler sit
In the same spot to long,
Or the grass would get
Too slippery. But we were
Kids, and kids don't

Listen when the sun is out.
My bathing suit was on, and
The thought of the first cold touch
Of water held me


I focused on the water
Undulating in the air, my eyes
Half-closed anticipating the jolt
Of freezing streams
On my little limbs, not the grass

Wet between my toes. When I landed
On the sprinkler, the plastic snapped
In half. Opened end to end, my foot
Had caught one
Of the sharp edges.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poetry: How to Whistle in Prison

Poem #10 for the poetry pledge drive comes from a commonly told family story about the time I first met my uncle. For some back story on him, you can read one of my earlier posts.

How to Whistle in Prison

What I thought I had was a memory
Of the day I met my uncle
For the first time; however, what I have is what must be
A collection of what other people have shared with me
Over the years. Each thread has merged
Into a single colorful yarn with repeated narrative

Patterns, shared images - the amusing combination
Of my candy-sticky little fingers and the tinsel;
How I carefully tried to place it back
On the tree, again and again and again,
But gave up with a sigh, and, after giving
A quick look around, swept it under the skirt

With my foot; in Mary Janes and my dress,
How I looked just like a China doll, dainty and
Neat; how my uncle ambitiously set out to teach me
How to blow bubbles with my gum and whistle that day.

Now I just think it's fun to be able to
Tell people I learned how to whistle in prison.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Poetry: Poking the Dead

As for yesterday's poem, I found inspiration for today's poem from an old photograph. The picture below, which I've shared on here before in an earlier post, is of me and my father. I think I'm holding up the fish by myself; my father just wants me in the picture to document how big the fish is. Looking at that picture again got me to thinking of summers in my grandparents' backyard where he and my grandfather would fillet dozens and dozens of fish they caught the same day out on my grandfather's boat. The memories are full of strong images and stir up a lot of warm fuzzy nostalgia despite the gruesome subject. I'm looking forward to expanding and revising this one in the future, but, for now, it's poem # 9 for the poetry pledge drive.

Poking the Dead

They would catch them by the barrelful and bring them home,
Cut them up in the backyard on big stained boards. I would
Nose around the reeking buckets, watch the lips
Moving breathlessly. I'd run

My fingers with and against the grain
Of the scales, then marvel at the discarded
Guts glimmering in the sun. I'd muster the courage
To poke at the dead

Eyes, trying to figure out how
The translucent lids worked, unblinking
When the flies landed.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Poetry: Temptation

Here we have poem # 8 for the poetry pledge drive. This could have been a longer poem, and maybe it will be some day, but right now, I'm tired . . . and I've been promised a shoulder rub if I come to bed early.

To make up for the half-assed writing effort, I'm also including the photo from the canoe trip I took that inspired the poem. (Yes, that's me making like Jane of the Jungle.)


We lash the rented canoes
Together, the slender green bodies
Rubbing cozily up against each other, resting
Our arms, just floating, taking turns

Swimming. All along the riverbank, banned
Rope swings pretend not to notice us, but
We see one peeking through parted branches,
Really only half-hidden. The temptation

Is too much not to
Give it a try before it's cut down.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Poetry: Arousal

For a change of pace, today (day 7 of the poetry pledge drive) I give you a haiku.


Everything stretches.
Peeking into my window,
A flowering stem.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Poetry: Inheritance

Okay, here is another resuscitated poem from my past. It was something I wrote for an advanced poetry-writing class in college. And, as with "We Are Not Wallendas," I think this newer version, while far from a finished product, is still a vast improvement. Just the same, . . . I'm starting to feel a little guarded and naked now with almost a week's worth of poems up here, so I'm going to refrain from posting the terrible original for comparison. Go ahead, call me a chicken, but it's just what I'm feeling right now.


In the face of my father,
Blood boiling up, rising red
Rage, thermometer popping
Mercury - salt in pepper hair.

Just below the widow's peak,
In line with each ear, loom knit
Eyebrows punctuating
Each sparse, spit phrase, clearly

Communicating orders,
Like the genes that tell me to
Raise mine the same, perhaps
Unintentional, way.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Meatless Monday: Edamame & Barley Salad

Matt had been looking for some pearled barley for a recipe he wanted to make and we had a really difficult time hunting some down. When he finally brought a bag home after work one day, he discovered that the barley wasn't 'quick-cooking' (which the recipe requires). So, we were back to square one . . . but, in the meantime, with a bag of pearled barley that needed a new purpose. I decided to try to find a recipe that used barley and edamame (another recently orphaned ingredient in my kitchen), and eventually found this:

Edamame & Barley Salad

I was drawn to this recipe because it reminded me, in some ways, of the southwestern quinoa salad, the curried couscous with broccoli and feta, and garlic-toasted quinoa with vegetables dishes I've highlighted here before that we really liked. Each uses a base of some sort of grain, and they share some similar veggies.

I'd never made pearled barley before, and the recipe simply instructs you to follow the cooking directions on the bag, so I did. Unfortunately, the bag didn't say to cover the pot once you got to the 'simmering' stage. Since barley is similar to rice, quinoa, etc., I assumed I was supposed to, because you do with those grains, but I've been pretty wrong making assumptions in the kitchen before. Sooo, I let it simmer for a while, lid off. But it was clear after a little while that all that water was never going to be absorbed or evaporate in the time allotted continuing with it uncovered, so I popped the top on. Good decision.

The recipe asks you not to put salt or fat in the water with the barley (as some bags may instruct) but to add salt later when you're combining your ingredients. Again, I did as I was told, but when I make this again, I probably will add the salt to the water - maybe some lemon zest too - my reasoning being the same as for wanting to put soy sauce in the water with the quinoa the next time I make the southwestern quinoa salad - I think the flavors will infuse the dish better.

I'm much more apt to swap out ingredients (as I've encouraged doing here before) than I am to mess with method instructions in a recipe. Substituting a little onion if you're out of shallots will probably produce palatable results, but broiling something for 20 minutes instead of baking it for 20 could be disastrous. Sometimes, it's not as clear-cut as that, but the more you try out new recipes and new ingredients, the line between when it's necessary to 'follow orders' and when you can unleash your inner creative chef should become a little less fuzzy.

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Poetry: Lemon Moon

Okay, the day is pretty much over, but it's not midnight yet (on the west coast anyway), so, technically, I am still meeting the deadline to post this as a Sunday entry for the poetry pledge drive. (Phew!)

I'm not sure that I'm completely happy with this new one, but I have to start letting go of the need to perfect each of these poetry posts. Banging one of these out every day isn't going to produce a chapbook's worth of masterpieces and I can't feasibly spend all day on them. At best, this month-long exercise should give me an awful lot of (or a lot of awful) first drafts. I need to keep that in mind and remember, too, that revising those drafts, as I did with Friday's poem, will be fun later.

Anyway, this next poem (#5) is based on a childhood memory I have of choking on a piece of candy at the age of 4 or 5 (just after I'd been told not to run with candy in my mouth - kids). My mother became hysterical (the first time I found out the poor woman was useless in a crisis), and my father quickly scooped me up and made me vomit. It wasn't exactly the Heimlich maneuver, but (luckily!) it worked. And, needless to say, it left a lasting impression and a vivid memory.

Lemon Moon

I almost swallowed the moon
Once. I was running, my mouth
Full of citrus slickness.

When the story is told
Now, They talk about how,
In a moment, everything turned

Like the tide. It slid back
Too far on my tongue. Mute
And fish-eyed, I gasped,

Helpless. My mother
Orbited me screaming
And screaming like a lunatic.

My father threw me
Over one arm - a blue rag
Doll dangling.

A couple solid jerks and I
Saw stars. Gleaming yellow,
The disc was launched free.

My mother plucked it up,
Holding it high - the proof,
Her relief. The sweetness was

Still in my mouth - my first taste
Of mortality, soon forgotten,
But only by me.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Poetry: Cleaning Money

It's only day 4 of this poetry pledge drive and I already feel like it's been a month . . . .This is going to be tough. At least with my usual blogging, I almost always take the weekend off. With this challenge, there's no reprieve until MAY! But enough bellyaching - I brought this on myself and I am enjoying it.

As with yesterday's poem, today's poem came from something old. This time it wasn't anything resembling a poem though, so I don't have an original to share with you. There were just ideas, snippets of possible lines scribbled on a loose piece of 3-hole-punched lined paper. Now, they're this . . .

Cleaning Money

Mom cleaned everything, tops
To bottoms, insides and outs, even
For other people, for money. She cleaned, even
When everything already shone shiny like

A new dime.

My brother was always taking
Something or other prescribed
Or illegal - once it was money
From my piggy bank. In his room,

He thought he was sly,
But he wasn't able to cover
The smoking up with incense
Or his wallet. Mom tried
Scrubbing the yellowed wallpaper
Until it was clear

We were all going
To have to chip in
To strip it down, like large patches
Of dead skin when he left.

Later, he'd call
Collect, on mom's dime,
Asking for some of her cleaning
Money. Nothing she could do
But clean the world
Around him.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Poetry: We Are Not Wallendas

And here is poem #3 for the poetry pledge drive. It started out as a very different poem, written many many years ago and then abandoned. At the time, it served as a a sort of personal therapy toward the end of a relationship (one of those pathetic relationships that just won't die and ends up having several ends). I revisited the poem and did a lot of reworking; it is so very different now but, I think, still true to the situation and emotions of that time. Revising it was definitely a worthwhile exercise, and one I probably never would have gotten around to doing if not for this poem-a-day challenge.

Because some may be interested in seeing the evolution of the poem, I am including both the new (top) and original (bottom) versions. It's a little painful to print the original version because I think it's so bad ("defibrillator for this heart attacked"?! "sweet elixir of life"?! "mad maestro's last concerto"?! Not to mention the poorly chosen line breaks. Oy.), but I did promise bad poetry and I'd hate to disappoint.

Oh, and one last note - for anyone who might not know, Wallenda is the family name of a famous group of circus performers, many of whom met tragic outcomes because they performed without nets.

We Are Not Wallendas

You ask me if I can

Wait for you, and I

Say I have the patience

Of a locust pupa that has

Years to wait for flight,

The fortitude of a modern

Graphic novel heroine; picture

A prima ballerina side-stepping

Landmines – grace and bravery.

I want to believe

Your word means something. Spare

And carefully weighed

Words – the perfect folds in a parachute,

The correctly calculated length

Of bungee rope, a strong roll

Cage for the Indy – you offer.

And so I have

The trust of a trapeze

Artist letting go

Above the flaming pit,

Knowing your hands

Will grasp mine

Just in time, for we

Are not Wallendas.


Because We Are Not Wallendas

You ask me if I an wait for you and I

Say I have

The patience of a locust pupa that has

Years to wait for flight.

The fortitude of a modern-day fairytale heroine;

Picture a prima ballerina side-stepping

Land mines - grace and bravery.

And I believe your word

Is the open parachute,

The securely anchored and correctly calculated

Length of bungee rope,

The roll cage in this locomotive,

The defibrillator for this heart attacked,

Our love - the sweet elixir of life, the passion

Of a mad maestro's last concerto.

And so I have the trust

Of a trapeze artist - or any artist - letting go

Above the flaming pit, knowing your hands

Will grasp mine in time,

In time to save this.

Because we are not Wallendas.

To read other poems or poetry-related posts on this blog, click here.