Thursday, July 27, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Carrots and a Salad

This week the poetry Nazis at Poetry Thursday have called upon us blogging poets to post something on food. As I am presently engaged in the battle of the bulge, this topic is not particularly welcome, but in the spirit of cooperation I'll post something old and something new.

The Secret Meaning of Carrots

It was nearing winter when I pulled
the remaining population,
their green shuttlecock hair tipped with gold.
Some were large, manly,
others delicate, womanly,
some had not reached puberty.
I grasped the whole tribe firmly, lovingly,
and set them on the kitchen cutting board.

After their greens were shorn
I bathed them in a colander
as if sifting for gold--
they washed up like nuggets.
I placed them in a yellow bowl
of cold water. Sweet,
I crunched them in my teeth.
Rich in Vitamin A, I knew
my vision had improved
and I could see
the secret meaning of carrots:

They begin from the smallest seeds,
vegetate through summer
and by storing the sun grow fat and sassy.
Tubers, they groove
on the slow conversion of energy
into the sweet bacon of their bodies.
Their central root aims
for the earth’s center like a heart worm.
Uprooted, the same wire
dives into the dirt of our mouths
and by their sacrifice we eat the sun.

(This appeared in in the now defunct Tintern Abbey, and in my first and only published book, Elementary, which is out of print. In other words I'm just a cyberghost with no bread crumb trail, just memories.)

Burying a Caesar

I made it on a Saturday
with romaine and green leaf lettuce
stems crisp and firm
fresh-boiled eggs in slices
the rose-white flesh of radishes
mushrooms cut kidney-style
spinach with that suede feel
and chicken strips grilled in garlic oil.

If they'd eaten it at the party
or I hadn't added dressing
I wouldn't be standing here a week later
fearing to open the blue ironware pot
inside the refrigerator
where Hansel and Gretel get lost
in the furry forest of the fungal underworld
where spice of meat and greens are married
to the wilting tatters of Miss Havisham’s
spider-riddled dress.

I must throw this mutant gallimaufry out.
I bag it blindly and drop it in the trash,
holding my nose, but as I do I become
curious about what alien stews
must be composting in my neighbors’ trash.
See how the imagination festers?
I swear I'm not going to lift a lid.

(unsubmitted, unpublished)


Yesterday I caught my first rockfish. I hiked two miles to a fairly deserted cove and finally managed to land a fish. I took it home and froached it (fried and poached, my term) and it was delicious. It tasted a bit like wild trout. It's such a satisfying feeling to catch or grow your own food. We've been eating some fine salads from my vegetable garden as well. I am the world's unluckiest fisherman, so I won't tell you how many times I was skunked before my triumph.

My mood is holding at one kilobunny. I worked a great deal on the order of another ms. yesterday: For Kathleen: Love Poems. If you go back to last Thursday's post, you can read one of those. But who goes back? Isn't it the nature of blogging that folks only stop here for three or four minutes to see what's happening today?

This blog has a history. It started near San Diego, continued in Mexico, then found new life in the redwoods and turned intensely personal during my depression.

Then we only have today, we only have this post--- Nonsense! With modern recording capacity we could document our entire lives 24/7 if we wished. Just get a Boswell with a video capable cell phone to follow you around.

Now that might be a colossal bore, but it is technically possible.

If man can now record himself completely, all the more reason to believe in the Akashic record, a Tibetan conception of a book in which everyone's life, living or dead, is completely preserved.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of decay, I will fear no Caesar.



  1. I enjoyed your food poems... especially carrots

    Some were large, manly,
    others delicate, womanly,
    some had not reached puberty.

  2. I liked both, but the second one especially ~ love the twist at the end, wanting to see what's in someone else's garbage.

  3. In "Burying Caesar," I especially like the mix of humor and horror that's at work in stanza three. That stanza gave me a visual impression of Universal Studios horror films. I like that. It works. Good poem.

  4. Tubers, they groove
    on the slow conversion of energy
    into the sweet bacon of their bodies.
    Their central root aims
    for the earth’s center like a heart worm.

    Love the internal rhyming here, the great rhythm of the lines. Really liked both poems, but this part in particular really got me. Good stuff!

  5. Thanks, Twitches, just reciprocated at your site. The carrots poem has another significance for me. I was "outed" from the net back in 2000 or so by Daniel McGinn, a poet from Laguna Beach, because he e-mailed me to say he had been reciting "The Secret Meaning of Carrots" to a good response. Afterwards I was invited to read at many venues and did so until the Karaokepoetry scene (open mike 1 hour / feature (me) 20 minutes or so) made me nauseous and I quit reading. How do I really feel? Here's a passage from "The Deprivathon" that will be published in Ygdrasil next month:

    Forget poetry, poetry sucks.
    Poetry sucks donkey dicks in the dead of night.
    Poetry sucks the butt holes of rabid bats
    Poetry sucks the big Walla-Walla like a Staubsauger
    Poetry is a concentration camp for narcissists.
    Poetry is eternal competition with every poet, living or dead.
    Poetry causes stillborns, curdles milk and stains the altar with pig’s blood.
    Poetry is bread in the mouth of a pigeon spreading Legionnaire's disease.
    Poetry is the word flu.
    Fuck poetry.

  6. Dr. Chaffin:
    I found your "Secret Meaning of Carrots" poem on-line somehow, and liked it immensely. I'd like to use it paired with a photo I did of scanned carrots, and post it to my Facebook page (to try and stay up with showing folks what I'm working on), and possibly my website (whenever I get around to updating it!) I'm a photographer and artist in Wilmington, DE. Credit given to you, of course, and a link, if you'd like, to your blog and/or website. I can also send you a copy of said scanned carrots.
    I'll be back to read and follow more of your blog. I like what I've seen so far.
    Thank you,
    Kathy Buckalew

  7. Dear Kathy,

    I'm honored by your ambition and of course, approve. You can reach me through my website,, for private correspondence, which I would welcome.




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