…to learn is the someday you’ll someday
stagger to, blinking in cold light, all tears
shed, ready to poke your bovine head
in the yoke they’ve shaped.
Everyone learns this. Born, everyone
breathes, pays tax, plants dead
and hurts galore. There’s grief enough
for each. My mother
learned by moving man to man,
outlived them all. The parched earth’s
bare (once she leaves it) of any who watched
the instants I trod it.
Other than myself, of course.
I’ve made a study of bearing
and forbearance. Everyone does,
it turns out, and note
those faces passing by: Not one’s a god.
They explained to me the bloody bandages
On the floor in the maternity ward in Rochester, N.Y.,
Cured the backache I acquired bowing to my old master,
Made me stop putting thumbtacks round my bed.
They showed me an officer on horseback,
Waving a saber next to a burning farmhouse
And a barefoot woman in a nightgown,
Throwing stones after him and calling him Lucifer.
I was a straw-headed boy in patched overalls.
Come dark a chicken would roost in my hair.
Some even laid eggs as I played my ukulele
And my mother and father crossed themselves.
Next, I saw myself inside an abandoned gas station
Constructing a spaceship out of a coffin,
Red traffic cone, cement mixer and ear warmers,
When a church lady fainted seeing me in my underwear.
Some days, however, they opened door after door,
Always to a different room, and could not find me.
There’d be only a small squeak now and then,
As if a miner’s canary got caught in a mousetrap.
Today I was happy, so I made this poem
As the plump squirrel scampers
across the roof of the corncrib,
the moon suddenly stands up in the darkness,
and I see that it is impossible to die.
Each moment of time is a mountain.
An eagle rejoices in the oak trees of heaven,
This is what I wanted.
The Leaky Faucet
All through the night, the leaky faucet
searches the stillness of the house
with its radar blip: who is awake?
Who lies out there as full of worry
as a pan in the sink? Cheer up,
cheer up, the little faucet calls,
someone will help you through your life.
While I had been sort of hoping to veganize my standard dark chocolate mini tart recipe, I sort of ran out of time and made the regular ones. I changed the recipe just slightly from the old one I’ve shared before.
I mailed some of these to an office where most of the employees are distributed, so a lot of employees miss out on the final results. One employee misread the label on these as “farts” rather than “tarts”, giving him a small chuckle – that was as sweet as my shared baking ended up being for him.
Dark chocolate tarts
1 ½ cups chocolate cookie crumbs (or 1 cup cookie crumbs and ½ cup ground hazelnuts).
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
The change I implemented here was simply throwing whole Oreo cookies into my food processor and making them into crumbs. I didn’t fool around looking for some other chocolate cookies or removing the middle filling of the Oreo. This might have made the final shells more structurally sound.
Preheat oven to 190C. Lightly spray muffin tins (regular size or mini ones, as I usually use) with nonstick spray (I usually do not use the spray because the mixture uses a lot of butter; I did use some non-stick spray this time because I was not sure that keeping the filling from the Oreos in the mix would not stick to the pan).
Mix the cookie crumbs (and ground hazelnuts, if you are using them – I did this time) with the melted butter and sugar. Press the mixture into the muffin tins. Bake approx. 5 minutes in preheated oven.
While baking, prepare the filling. Remove from oven and lower oven temperature to 160C.
10 to 10 ½ ounces of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) – 280 to 300 grams
¾ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
3 tablespoons honey (flavored honey can be nice here)
1 egg, beaten slightly
The difference this time is that I used only heavy cream and no milk in the exact same proportion (so 1 1/4c cream – minus all milk).
Over a double boiler (or glass bowl over a pan of boiling water) mix chocolate with milk and cream. Stir until chocolate is melted and fully mixed together with cream and milk (smooth consistency). Stir in honey.
Slightly beat the egg in a medium-sized bowl. Gradually stir a small stream of the melted chocolate mixture into the egg, whisking the egg and chocolate together the whole time (to temper to make sure the egg does not become like scrambled eggs). Do this with just some of the chocolate until enough chocolate has been mixed with egg to ensure that the egg will not cook. Then add the egg-chocolate mixture to the bowl of melted chocolate.
Spoon the chocolate mixture into the chocolate tart shells. Bake 25 minutes, cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from tin.
to the endless paranoiac suspicion
In Defense of Adultery
We don’t fall in love: it rises through us
the way that certain music does –
whether a symphony or ballad –
and it is sepia-coloured,
like spilt tea that inches up
the tiny tube-like gaps inside
a cube of sugar lying by a cup.
Yes, love’s like that: just when we least
needed or expected it
a part of us dips into it
by chance or mishap and it seeps
through our capillaries, it clings
inside the chambers of the heart.
We’re victims, we say: mere vessels,
drinking the vanilla scent
of this one’s skin, the lustre
of another’s eyes so skilfully
darkened with bistre. And whatever
damage might result we’re not
to blame for it: love is an autocrat
and won’t be disobeyed.
Sometimes we manage
to convince ourselves of that.
We Shall Not Cease (from Little Gidding)
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
is my heart. A stranger
berry there never was,
Gone sour in the sun,
in the sunroom or moonroof,
No poetry. Plain. No
fresh, special recipe
All I’ve ever made
with these hands
and life, less
substance, more rind.
Mostly rim and trim,
but making much smoke
in the old smokehouse,
Fatted from the day,
overripe and even
toxic at eve. Nonetheless,
in the end, if you must
know, if I must bend,
to that excruciation.
No marvel, no harvest
left me speechless,
yet I find myself
somehow with heart,
fighting fire with fire,
That loud hub of us,
meat stub of us, beating us
Spectacular in its way,
its way of not seeing,
but in everydayness.
In that hopeful haunting
way of saying
in darkness) there is
for the pressing question.
Heart, what art you?
War, star, part? Or less:
playing a part, staying apart
from the one who loves,
Waking up in the same skin isn’t enough.
You need more and more evidence
of who it is that
wakes up in the same skin.
But what evidence?
Reality is unreliable: a whirlwind
of dust that appears
and disappears every day.
Your thirst stretches out its white dunes.
Every day in the dust
not islands but their darkness
heaped on the polished mirror of a sea.
Not doors but their shadows
slammed in the house of wind.
Not lighthouses but their half-second SOS
in red, green and yellow.
Not language but languages.
Not a hand closing a curtain
but a hand.
And the day is over,
not wiser than the night in which
you waited for someone
who came and wasn’t what you waited for.