Miscellany & Poetry - On food, wine, film, lit & then some.

Glossolalia

Glossolalia

I

What bites is when he begs me through the gag
to stop shoving my lips down people’s throats.

I thought my lips a sleeping bag
for a kiss to unzip and get comfy in
under the stars.
I thought them the asymptote of the curve
we kiss on, a ratio fast approaching
1:1.
I thought my lips symptoms of all the beauty-
sleep I’d pissed away
in the throes—and how they’d vanish
in the puff of a kiss
at the close of a fable
about doing an about-face.
How his lips read like a warning label on the kiss—
a skull-and-crossbones of pale and thin, and mine
the only antidote known to him.
I could go on forever.

So I cooked up a little plan for the kiss.

At first our lips will act knock-kneed.
Then they’ll lock
like the knees of a gymnast
on her dismount from the beam—
the opening sequence in a dream routine.
Or they’ll lock like our tongues
were keys to red deadbolts.
Or else like our tongues were the keys
to the teen diaries of our lips,
filled with talk of knees turning to jelly.

I’ll stick to it yet.
I still think a good kiss is foolproof.

II

Here’s a list of fabrics lips would come in
if lips came in fabrics:

seersucker
lace
rawhide

If you could choose from an array
of lip-prints, which would you choose?

houndstooth
flower-strewn
camouflage

Lips to fit your every mood.
Imagine!
I think I would slip into something a little more comfortable.

To keep my shapely kiss,
I follow a daily regimen.
First I give it plenty of fresh air
and fluids.
Next I exercise it.
I monitor its snacking
and liquor intake.
Keep in mind,
when a kiss can pinch an inch
it’s liposuction time.

Grenadine for day.
A frost, Fireworks, for night.
In tiny, mirrored case,
in studded handbag,
in crystal-fixtured powder room.
Give me the works!
The whole shebang.

III

He knows
when I’m pissed—
my lips go off like a pistol.
The spit flies.
Kisses ricochet.

Some bounce right off him.
Some sing past.

Once I co-founded a lip service.
The public’s response was resounding.
A hot line had to be installed.
The night shift were laid-off ventriloquists.
Your lover doesn’t even come close,
that was our policy.

When I saw how I was taking my work home with me,
I fired myself. I mean I retired. Meanwhile,
shares in the once Mom-and-Pop operation
skyrocketed. Today it’s worth a small fortune.

What is the sound of one lip kissing?

My lips cast a shadow
on the wall of his face.
I can do bunnies and German shepherds.
I can do passing headlights,
down to the patterns they throw
as loosely as a shawl across him—

for one moment, the dark crocheted with light.
Only the kiss looms.

How to Make Room (after Giorgio Morandi)

i

Here gradation does edge’s job
on urn, jug, ewer, a jugular
vein of light opening up
at the slow twist of a knife of another light.

Here the story is anarrative,
turning on glints. In it here and there
means now and then. The glints are white-on-white’s dropped hints.

Now as the population of utopia soars
is  the time to study the architecture of the future
and be called in one day to solve hereafter sprawl

and pull a golden blueprint from an ether canister, a cylinder of glow, a tube ablaze
to show a city, smoked glass and cracks through clay,
a skyline glazed under the haze of if and when.

Place a white vase on a white cloth before a white wall.
Add a chipped pot, a tipped cup. Of course white on white
is no such thing,

which is moving—
its being off-white but still just touching,
grazing white, moves me
through and through. I remember you moving too.

ii

Abut, about, overlap, palaver and converse, converge.
The word is the next word. Likewise
lansdcape is still life, portraiture is still life. It’s still life
that isn’t.

Sometimes I paint not with my eyes closed
but as if they were, object as afterimage, object
from one angle as seen from another.

Sometimes I arrange before me many objects
but paint a few, to see if I can see them
missing.

Sometimes I arrange before me a few things
and paint many  to see if I can see right
through space to its interior, its ulterior motives.

Either way it appears
liquefaction is the motion still life goes through,
depicting its own flicker going out, being
splashed, submerged in the in and of itself.

iii

I seek, I think,
to explain the way depth and distance are
on the one and the same plane—
even as they diverge more than say

drove and wound and drove and wound
as in the wound wound down your side
or you drove them over the cliff

in droves
from afar, flickers of darkness,
beasts
—to see each phase shape goes through.
A bottle off its shelf, a shell,
a ball midroll.
What is it to be held in place? What holds?

iv

I pick up the pitcher’s shadow,
gray milk trickles
from the spout’s outline.
I tilt the pitcher, out pours silhouette.

Bottles collect
among the bottle shapes.
Layer itself strikes you as thick.

Dawn breaks, dusk gathers, dust settles.
Of blue I have yet to begin
to scratch the surface. Of that
I may have no intention.

Evening

The concussion grenade of your head in your hands:
blood rushing to the verb. Upon surfacing
which I see as to landing as contact to impact
it’s oxygen-red. You have an exhilarating face.

What was green has grayed: a clear-cut
case of mission creep.
Your head at the edge of a clearing or swamp,
us chasing after it:

scratched up to an engine-red degree,
clanging through the mangroves.
Between the trees we’re flashing tilt,
tilt. Our breath is catching. Up

and Adam! Coming to with a match to a lit wick,
a pin between the fingers.
The verb, shot to hell,
entailing blood; I took the entrails through the wood.

So there we stood, in the Biblical sense,
moving. In the fait accompli, suddenly, a bird.
However singed. Joshua, no paradox; it’s only contradiction—
but when did everything get so big!

Devoted

When all the others ran,
I loved the write-in candidate;
he entered too late, how I loved him,
let me count the ballots—
one scroll in a bottle of rolling port, asea in the old penmanship,
the one in the cookie too true to be good
when you sat on your whim in a lantern-strung nook
in lilac, undaunting shantung, and the dim lights stung,
one listing side effects, in with the tablets, over the counter,
the scrap one the number was on and you lost,

the starred one you streaked through headquarters waving
until you got escorted off the premises—
or let me take a poll, let me count the yesses
and reduce the nos to soft low moans, tend roses for the float
with my hair up in quotes and a rose speaking out,
throw a fundraising bash and overthrow the rest,
let’s count the ways in cash, RSVP,
it’s none of his running mate’s affair.
My tears would sidle up to pat my hair, cat fur on end,
smooth out the pound cake-batter of the hue,
my hair would rise to the occasion
as the press hounded me for a poolside interview,
candied, candid, can-do.

Then in comes election eve all like a hostess
in a heroinic mood, jaded in semiprecious hues,
down to miniscule shoes
like chandeliers tipped over on her feet.
The ballroom made a shelter from the landslide.
In the confetti fallout, we dropped and made angels.
Bubbles rose to the top of my coiffure,
popping nonstop at its tipsiest,
when it went flitting through the room
until it slipped and fell,
then we bandaged my head with a red streamer,
the dreamiest cocktails get blended with cream.
The nepenthe was on tap and we did nepenthe shots,
our napkins embossed with a silver kiss
so we could wipe our lips on other lips,
and gave the bartender slow, deep tips,
I wept every chance I got.

Somebody should have danced or made a dancing gesture.
It was a loss for bad behavior everywhere. When you tiptoe
down a corridor dangling your heels,
then you’re on a champagne trail,
trying Secret Service knocks—
the halls festooned with signs in Do Not Disturb colors,
it had been such a live broadcast—
trying the patience of the locks.

You pretend to forget where you live,
until you begin tending to
—then home’s the same cabaret you ran off to join,
the same show the lovely assistant stole just by stealing away.
You answer the knock on the door at the back of your head
by locking more deeply the box
you’ve found yourself back in, until the day
you get cast in the absentee ballet—

Detonation

A sound to render onomatopoeia obsolete.

Tragedy lay there, not moving.
It was spectacularly doughy.
I nudged it with my sneaker.  Nothing.

I call to it, say, Psst.  You’re in the way. Still nothing.
Wielding a twig, I jab it
but true to form

it didn’t yield
and the holes stay put, as in a cake
de-candled for neater cutting into squares.

What am I supposed to do, leave it here to rot?
And where were you
now?

It always did say so.  Sometimes
I still hear it, whispering to me from across aisles—
ways, seas—think small.

It had the voice of a seashell—almost unheard of
in the face of  (I recall an eerie descent
into such iridescence of sound—

the ear squeamish
as echoes fishtailed past
and if chilling’s stretching it, wildly cool—)— So I’d think

thinnest pearl of my thumbnail and the one grain that sank
to the quick the night we did the speed of light to LAX
from Zuma—we’d been trying our hands

at sand newsstands or kiosks, sand casinos,
a sand bachelorette, a sand roach motel,
two sand carousels—circus; baggage—
a sand soundproof booth,
a sand architectural firm,
sand grass huts, sand glass houses,

still in our wet things but
we had a plane to catch, I even caught one,
I thought, with my bare hands.

Tragedy was on the verge
of determining its sex when they
(this was in the heyday of coming to take me away)
performed the C-section.
Now it hovers on the cusp of M and F,
endlessly circling neither.
Now race is only what it once had been determined
not to lose.  As for blood
selection—when’s anything left
so much to be desired? A, indefinite. O, lamentable. B,
or not.  I.e., let’s see some ID that isn’t
fake or mistaken or invalid in some way.
(Blood type.  Those poets, they make it seem so easy—)

Ceremony (after Giorgio de Chiricoís Nostalgia of the Infinite)

Ceremony (after Giorgio de Chiricoís Nostalgia of the Infinite)

I’m cutting you out of my will.
The sun towered over us where we stood still.
From the bottom of the fire escape
where our shadows lay, we heard
someone say they saw us rising.
Otherwise the crowd stayed hidden.
Noon sent afternoon into the fray
to drag our shadows out from under us.
Night approached with its stretchers.
Burden of the zenith falling to our spinal columns.

Draped figures happened by.

So to the blue above and all around
there was a marked skylessness.
In the darkness not falling—
in its vicinity—
one sensed a group formation,
a reunion picture being taken,
the urge to be in which one half-submerged. On the air
night-blooming claustrophilia.

Any moment weíll be tossed
back into our sliding-glass enclosure,
in the chloroformed lights
and outspread darks of a bedroom
community. Passing outcasts will see
our bodies unfold as soul cutouts
and picture souls bent over
a kind of construction paper,
holding kinds of scissors.

(The crowd is drawn to the deserted plaza square.
It is not drawn to scale
distant peaks.
The earth itself is quaquaversal.
Suddenly

someone is skirting the square
the distance pales next to.)

Yesterday broke on a wedding rehearsal.
Ivy latticed stone on stone.
Carts wheeled around like seagulls.
Ice honed its skills in silver buckets.

There stood the cake, mile-high white in the sunlight,
like a public fountain
for its figurines to swirl through,
smashed on dollhouse bottles
of sparkling wine,
or a model Alp
where theyíd be spotted
dangling from a rope,
bride frostbitten,
groom crystallized.
Someone would send a party in search of the decorator
whose first-aid kit included roses from a tube
and strands of cursive
in a pastel hand.

(Beyond the distance, picture a stand of oak.
A path begins at promise and runs through oath to curse.
Of sound mind and body, the couple sets off.

That setting had no wish to be disturbed.)

Dusk passed like a hearse,
smoke-tinted and large.
What had been around began to shift—
the hourglass of the sky flipping over,
the figure on the statue wanting down,
us being the closest thing to trees.
Witnesses swore our vows
crawled out from the holes in our faces.
One of us made token shoving gestures. The other gave
way.

Over the landscape, the sign read Lost and Found.
From that, one lifts the wording for oneís will:
Of all the gifts I never got
around to returning,
I bequeath these bits of broken ground
(the bloodied shovel isn’t mine to give).
Look how champagne’s been pooling underneath.

As the whole map marks the spot

Oops, we left Lesotho off.
Boston yawns and Oklahoma moans,
disconsolate yet bored.
Not a little, not a bit, opposites, we know not why.
Outside it snows anew,
still gulls wheel,
wing, tip, wind, dip.
One country borders on your mouth,
a nation has your lipline,
none has mine.
lines
Gulls wheel but don’t call when snow falls.
No birds do. Night’s falling now like snow,
drifting thickly. Street’s deserted.
I could have sworn it was Goby,
with a y. But you knew all along it was i.
Push Boulder off the edge.
Knock all of Colorado off. Brush
every pinpoint away like crumbs.
We know not Assam
from Elba from
some kind of waterfall.
Seeing as how
scratch is what you X
and where you start from
on our next map
here will be Fracas, there Havoc,
the new directions are nuke, sack, eke and wreak,
they are make do, ruin, get and let go,
here will be Numb, there Over and Done,
with another smudge of ink
we’ll stretch the sand as far as it will go,
how I want to be there,  damned
if it isn’t Goby after all.

A Ferie

for A. (with lines taken from Monet, van Gogh, Hundertwasser,
& guides from the N.Y. Museum of Modern Art)

Olive grove, the facts are fast becoming secrets,
the terrace silvering—
first of all don’t look at me—
olive stand, supposing that a drowsy tree sat down
—can you get over this silver,
and here the sun was just espousing gold;
what happened I think is the sun
opened up: instanteneity,
especially the envelope, the same light spreading everywhere—
and my head undergoing a sea change—

in cypress amid red pine boughs,
a cypress of 36 different gray values—
is yours, I wonder,
going, going under, gone—

*

Take the stairs into the sea,
you are basically vicious,
they go right down into it—
and if the true spiral is not
geometric but vegetative
then the wayward spiral
must border on a square, sunlit, the plaza
with a round of applause at the center,
yellow in the heart of a discolored city—
we don’t remember being like this,
take the stairs into the sea,

the sea is more full of walls than you know,
and edgeless clerestoried passageways

—an architect, longing, forms an arch.
Among the vestiges of shelter,
he puts up a brave front.
What else is this side of collapse,
my heart keeps going like an echo in a gorge,
my heart caves in as a flooded apse—

*

A sea-high above, down a corridor of dark white brick,
light like projectiles hurled through the openings,
the first pangs of windows
an architect felt who left the air half open and the moonlight on—

Below, suppose the water intersects in planes
so crossing the seafloor would be opening sliding-glass door after sliding-glass door—
you activate the sensors—
the vertical water
forms a revolving door to enter the rest of the sea through,
by the same token, there’s the turnstile,

someone turning around to face you away from the sun,
the sun there ever was;
and a coming wine and rain;
the sea has a wayside too,
we fell by it—

*

Then, in retrospect, the figure in the grove
is a lover eluding a lover,
lemony, olivine, circles and points,
a grove consisting
of paired forms, repeated shapes, and the spaces
between them—

and if green-gray is yellow with black and hardly any blue
then the division of the oval of the head
of a figure in a grove through a telescope,
red-gray, yellow-gray, green-gray, blue-gray,
in quadrants of over, above, above and beyond,
is also a circle forming—

a circle foaming over its circumference—
into the shape of the sea that is a grove,
a stand of waves,
or if the sea is stretching it long, long pond of a grove;
the green beneath the sun as white and lilac fishtail past,
the floating slapdash, yellow-white for every white
—this before the rain, the dusk undé with wind,
but barely, the sun coming in under the wire:
nowhere was the horizon any longer,
not for miles—

*

And those arches are the buildings holding hands,
so the street looks like it’s strolling down the street
two by two;
if you followed,
putting one shadow in front of the other,
if crossing the bridge
you combined the cities
to get your own city,
a rock and stone concoction
lit up in tiers,
if you jumped out of the cake of a lost city,
the alternative is to get your own city,
take the stairs into the sea—
then where they go at night dawns on you,
the streets set out at sunset along the canals,
decked in balconies and greenery,
a vine winds singly down a yellow side;
and they gather at the edge of the sea,
they sidle up to the edge, they slide headlong
into it
Soon they form a wavy town, all lit up and wavy

—the key to the city is on you,
your aqueousness surpassing;
the onus of the opus is upon you—
of countryside stilled beneath the lid of its horizon,
which is the sea,
it is a piano,
but it is a grand piano—

When Two Ingredients Make Sweet Sweet Love: A Top 10

Vanilla & chocolate. Meat & potatoes. Beans & corn. Gin & tonic. While most foods go with many things—in a wacky little process we call cooking—some have soulmates. How my heart spins like a pinwheel, how my breath blossoms into sighs when my mouth becomes like unto a pink-silk-strewn circular waterbed for the consummation of their edible romance! Behold the stunning couples that (in no particular order) grace my Top 10.

Spinach & bacon. Iron & smoke, from the edges of bitterness to the heart of unctousness.

Lemon & butter. The yellows of slow sunlight, soft & sour, melting into pure bright shine.

Fish & vinegar. Ceviche. Pickled herring. Escovitch. Swoony Venetian sarde in saor. There’s a reason everyone everywhere has marinated fish in vinegar for centuries. Okay, it’s a preservative. But besides that, it has its own seawatery strength; it brings the zing to the cream of the flesh.

Brown sugar & sour cream. I’m not saying they don’t need fresh strawberries or sliced banana to be complete. But I’m not saying they do either.

Cheese & honey. Enough said, I think. (Okay—pecorino e miele. Now I’ve said enough.)

Nuts & honey. Ditto.

Cheese & nuts. Ditto.

Raisins & olives. As in Latin picadillo. As in Sicilian caponata. As in many a tagine. In short, as in myriad dishes that exhibit Moorish influence. The chew, the deep salt & the dark sweet.

Chocolate & eggplant. If you don’t trust me, trust southern Italy. Two bitters don’t make bitterness.

Fino sherry & oysters. If champagne & shellfish are a celebrated marriage, sherry & shellfish are the quietly enduring affair.

Tactilophile: Top 5 Eats According to My Fingers

1. Nuts in the shell
Peanuts
from Nuts Online

Peanuts or pistachios, walnuts or pecans, filberts or Brazils, with unaided fingers or with a nutcracker depending on the type, day in & day out, the sense of accomplishment I derive from opening nuts is all the more joyous for being so fleeting. Whatever that may say about the scope of my life’s ambition isn’t the point; the point is the clean, sharp sound of the crack, especially when it occurs straight along the seam; the tiny bits that go flying; popping or picking out the pieces of nutmeat 1 by 1; licking the salt & bits of skin off your palm…

2. Coiled pastries
Sticky-buns2
from somebody’s high-school reunion

From savory, meat-filled burek to sticky buns & cinnamon rolls, it’s all about peeling away the soft, flaky strip of dough hunk by hunk to reach the tender heart of the spiral.

3. Meat on the bone
Thanksgiving-turkey-leftovers

Photo notwithstanding, I don’t know why anyone ever bothers to put Thanskgiving turkey on a platter & go through the whole carving rigmarole. Left to my own holiday hostessing devices, which surely for the better I never am, I’d just set the bird in the pan on the kitchen counter & let everyone stand around tearing into it with their hands—digging for the meat between the bones, yanking off satisfyingly fat chunks or long twists, sopping up the gravy, snatching swatches of crackling golden-brown skin. Same goes for roast chicken. And then there are barbecued ribs—the gnawing, the bone-sucking, the finger-licking, the repeating…

4. The corner piece of cake
Cake_sheet_bday_reg_med

Speaking of improving on tradition, when I reach good old Elvira’s gilded age, I hope someone gets me a classic yellow sheet cake just like this, with 1 twist: each corner piece would be replaced by a block made entirely of frosting, the worst kind—just sugar, shortening & coloring—& I would get them all, no fork necessary. Then I’d scrape up the frosting left on the bottom of the serving board with my index finger. Then I’d fall asleep in my chair, snoring, while everybody tiptoed out.

5. Anything baked in a crust
Pecan Pie_2
from Hope, Faith & Gluttony

Pie, quiche, kulebiaka, b’stilla, you name it—it’s a scientifically proven fact that grabbing a slice with 1 hand & eating it like a sandwich actually enhances the flavor. Especially if your other hand has been holding a few too many glasses of wine.