Fish N' Chips

I am so interested in Voice, how we express ourselves in all ways, especially speech and writing. A dear friend recently got back in touch with me and I owe the Rilke and e.e. cummings poems to her. Almost thirty years ago we were young interns at an environmental firm in Santa Barbara. I am thrilled to be corresponding by email, in which her whimsical, sweet and witty style had only been enhanced with the passing years. 

Fish N’ Chips

I want my poems to be like Byron
or Keats, Shakespeare or Dickinson
published in Norton Anthologies,
poems whose themes
are debated in English classes, upper division.
They are French cuisine with wine pairings,
a seven course meal to recall for a lifetime.
Quilled pen and ink on parchment paper!

Mine are poetry for dummies,
could be published in paperback
with yellow spines-
How to Be Okay with Poor Body Image for Idiots
How to Live with Regret for the Clueless.

I labor with chisel and stone!

I wish I could come up with lines like Rilke’s
Be modest now, like a thing ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all can feel you
when he reaches for you.

I read it three times to understand
“he” might be God and reaching for me,
how I want him to! Rilke has shown me how!

I crave cleverness like e.e.cummings,
who lived in a small studio apartment,
painting in the afternoon and writing by night,
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go,my dear;

With cummings I take off my shoes and stockings,
walk in gutters of flower petals.

God is a food critic,
one good review and you have a line out the door.
God is a sous chef at Cordon Bleu
staying after hours to perfect the seasonings
for tomorrow’s special.
My God is a fry cook at a seaside shanty,
sleeves rolled up, a dirty apron.

On a good day, we flirt under heat lamps
the fish was just caught this morning,
the batter whisks without lumps,
the vinegar has aged to sour perfection
and the potatoes are perfectly salted.

More often we hiss at each other as we bang plates,
Hurry up, the patrons are hungry I complain.
Don’t be surly he admonishes,
Deliver the goods with a smile.