I always find that writing found poetry stirs up my creative side. Try collecting all the newspapers in the house, old love letters, recipes, grocery lists, old science textbooks and cut out the interesting words and sentences. Then throw them on the floor, and start picking up the pieces. Write down the words and sentences in their random order, and start filling in the blanks. You’ll end up with a whole new original poem!
Love, a Recipe
You will need:
1 large onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
½ teaspoon turmeric and arsenic
1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk, sweetened
1 unfertilized human heart (if not in season, they are available by the dozen in your grocer’s freezer)
Coarse sea salt to taste
Gingered lime (for garnish)
- Slice onions. Do not notice another beautiful woman walking into the room. Do not mutter to yourself in Dutch, keep slicing. The onion is not a metaphor. You are not slicing smaller and smaller gyres of grief. Add garlic.
- In large saucepan over medium heat, simmer coconut milk. Do not chant “I love you, it’s you I love.” Simmer, simmer.
- Add the sweet potato and the heart. Make sure to give yourself ten minutes for the auto-autopsy. If you are using frozen heart, make sure to tenderize it properly. Do not hear the fragmented laughter from the other room. Keep stirring.
- Add turmeric, arsenic and onions. Do not overreact. He is not examining the curvature of eye, tit and ankle while you are seasoning.
- Salt, 2 cups salt. Disregard the salt in your tears, the salt in your wounds, or that time you made out in the ocean.
- Ladle the soup into four bowls, top with a spoonful of jasmine rice. There are no substitutes. There is no time between the gingered lime and the ecstasy. Do not imagine poisons and ways to disguise them. If he sees you crying, blame it on the onions.
- Freeze. This dish is the kind of thing that keeps and does not change.
Here is a poem I wrote when I was 18—how embarrassing! As you can see from the poem, there is a great deal of teenage angst! I was trying to play with the recipe form at the time, and see what happened. For me, poetry has always been a kind of fun language experiment. This is from a real recipe that I love, and I just substituted the ‘real’ ingredients for more ‘poetic’ ones.
It’s spring. The sparrow dies instantly. Quick bang, the streetcar suspended. Small black body. You can still see white, speckled, small grains of rice across the back, twittering youth. You insist on a proper burial. Together we glide through the city, bird cupped in our palms. The concrete, post-rain, bleak and lunar. We speak elliptically, sleep-talk about death, wings immobilized in flight. The air thickens, we breathe out. Our hulls contain us, solemn as prayer, our delicate shells of bone . . .