Eating & Drinking

An Ex-Judge at the Bar

Bartender, make it straight and make it two —
One for the you in me and the me in you.
Now let us put our heads together: one
Is half enough for malice, sense, or fun.

I know, Bartender, yes, I know when the Law
Should wag its tail or rip with fang and claw.
When Pilate washed his hands, that neat event
Set for us judges a Caesarean precedent.

What I shall tell you now, as man is man,
You’ ll find in neither Bible nor Koran.
It happened after my return from France
At the bar in Tony’ s Lady of Romance.

The Strange People

— Pretty Shield,
Medicine Woman of the Crows
transcribed and edited by
Frank Linderman (1932)
All night I am the doe, breathing
his name in a frozen field,
the small mist of the word
drifting always before me.

And again he has heard it
and I have gone burning
to meet him, the jacklight
fills my eyes with blue fire;
the heart in my chest
explodes like a hot stone.

from The Task, Book VI: The Winter Walk at Noon

Thus heav’ n-ward all things tend. For all were once
Perfect, and all must be at length restor’ d.
So God has greatly purpos’ d; who would else
In his dishonour’ d works himself endure
Dishonour, and be wrong’ d without redress.
Haste then, and wheel away a shatter’ d world,
Ye slow-revolving seasons! we would see,
(A sight to which our eyes are strangers yet)
A world that does not dread and hate his laws,
And suffer for its crime; would learn how fair
The creature is that God pronounces good,

Fish or Like Fish

He startled to see a statue of blind
justice really did loom over the courtroom. But
remained determined to scorn symbolism.
She needed a quarter to call her lover —
the docket was full, she’ d be late for lunch —
and he gave her one. It was not a taunt,
acquiescence, wager, or plea. It was
a quarter. The fact that they had done this —
even this! — together and cordially,


Pale gold and crumbling with crust
mottled dark, almost bronze,
pieces of honeycomb lie on a plate.
Flecked with the pale paper
of hive, their hexagonal cells
leak into the deepening pool
of amber. On your lips,
against palate, tooth and tongue,
the viscous sugar squeezes
from its chambers, sears sweetness
into your throat until you chew
pulp and wax from a blue city
of bees. Between your teeth
is the blown flower and the flower's
seed. Passport pages stamped
and turning. Death's officious hum.


The flowers I planted along my road
Have lasted long despite winds and cold
Already fiery noons begin to burn
Slyly the secret of the roots
And I know that of my footsteps nothing will remain
But a trace a cluster a drop
To recall along the paths I’ ve chosen
Those evening when the light sang
In eyes hands hearts and goblets.

Cleaning a Fish

In her hand the knife, brisk, brilliant as moon-claw,
shaves the flesh. It grazes the white
belly just over the heart.
Underneath, the coiled fingers
are cradling a soft flesh
as if it were the jowls of the aged

man propped for a while on the bench in the park.
The head is not severed, the eyes not out.
Blue, they appear to flash odd ways
where a tree makes a live shadow.
Mostly the eyes are dead.
Nothing is in them


Because I do not know
what a hendecasyllable is
and words is all I have
to transubstantiate and give,
within me I hunger for a tongue
of my own, unpronounceable
flavors worth a thousand madeleines
(Monsieur P.) as hunting-horns spiral
through my belly and I say:
Schmorrn muis kneidl tirschtlan
guglhupf schluzza friggl prennsuppe
hoadana kneidl hoadanO plente
schaitohaufn kiochlan unt niggilan
faignkaffe kropfn unt Töpfnudl
so rich so good and tasty the speck
smoked wurscht and roast chestnuts

Divorced Fathers and Pizza Crusts

The connection between divorced fathers and pizza crusts
is understandable. The divorced father does not cook
confidently. He wants his kid to enjoy dinner.
The entire weekend is supposed to be fun. Kids love
pizza. For some reason involving soft warmth and malleability

kids approve of melted cheese on pizza
years before they will tolerate cheese in other situations.
So the divorced father takes the kid and the kid's friend
out for pizza. The kids eat much faster than the dad.
Before the dad has finished his second slice,


I’ ve never seen the land
of milk and honey, but at

the Iowa State Fair I glimpsed
a cow fashioned of butter.

It lived behind a window
in an icy room, beneath klieg lights.

I filed past as one files
past a casket at a wake.

It was that sad: a butter cow
without a butter calf. Nearby I spied

a butter motorcycle, motorcycle-
sized, a mechanical afterthought

I thought the cow might have liked to ride.
You don’ t drive a motorcycle; you ride it.