Sophisticated Cannibals

Some like meat well-charred,
And some, uncooked, tartare.
But tartare can’t be spiced enough
In marinade of piquant stuff
To cover up its basic flaw…
It’s eaten raw.

Rich or Poor…We All Got Dust

Dust is the bond between social classes…
The elegant monied and the masses.
It collects on everyone’s things indoors,
The priceless armoires of Louis Quatorze,
Or the simple goods of the bourgeoisie.
It piles up even at Sotheby’s.
Dust motes surely beget with lust,
Since everything is covered with dust.
The difference is that Louis Quatorze
Had dusters in all his corridors,
While our more modest, but dusty, shelves
Are dusted less often and by ourselves.

Common Sense Is for the Birds

As frigid snow swirls all about me
And cold breath puffs from my mouth,
I sit here warming my hands and my feet,
Wondering why geese and not me
Went south.

Censer, Censer Burning Bright

Father Bunshaft swung the censer,
Burning incense, down the aisle,
But stepped on the hem of his robe
That he suddenly realized wasn’t his,
But Father Mulcahy’s.
Ten inches taller than he, himself.
So careful as a bride
He cast down his eyes to avoid the hem,
But veered to close to the right side pews
And, heedless, swinging too far right,
The censer grazed Mrs. Graybill’s cheek.
She shrieked,
And reflexively, he yanked it left,
Gashing Mr. Snowdon on the sniffer.
But not to worry
The censer, white hot,
Cut and cauterized all at once.
Had Mr. Snowdon not fainted, though,
And the widow Graybill not tended to him,
They might never have met…and married…
Once the bandages finally came off.

Compliments to the Chef de Pneu

Joey Spatula, a chef of egg salad simplicity,
Didn’t know a tamale from crème brulee,
But nonetheless wished for Michelin renown.
So he hung in the window of his luncheonette
A Michelin tire…
Like roasted window ducks in Chinatown…
And placed a Michelin sign beside it.
But guilt became the mother of mutation,
When he discovered Escoffier online
And replaced his baseball cap
With the souffle puff of a chef’s hat
And learned to make
Tripe and trout and goose pate,
Coq au vin and cassoulet,
Then changed Joey’s Luncheonette
To the Ivory Spatula,
Took the tire from the window
And waited to be discovered.

Any Day Now…Any Day

Just one sec,
She says,
Indicating imminent readiness to leave.
But really she means,
A geologic sec,
A serious chunk of time,
Hardly a casual eye blink of impatient time,
Not a couple of wasted, earth seconds of time.
No, she’s aligned with the Creator’s time…
The Pleistocene Age…blink,
The Age of the Dinosaurs…blink…
The Ice Age…blink.
And so imminent turns to slow-burn time.
Let me get a bottle of water,
She says.
I have to refresh my lipstick…
I have to change my blouse…
I’ll just be a sec.

Smile, Let Your Self-Confidence Show

Little hard seeds in raspberry jam
Get stuck between canines and cuspids,
Tight as grout,
While bits of spinach,
Adhere with stealth
To an incisor,
And smiling seems to anyone near,
Like the gap of a missing tooth.
Not to render you so self-conscious
That you smile only into your hand,
Or race to a mirror after a meal,
To check on your presentability,
But avoiding chagrin,
You could eat mashed potatoes
And white chicken curry…
And not have to worry.

Beware the Urban Seaman

The sailboat careened
Off one moored boat, then another,
By chance heading into shallow harbor,
And more moored boats…
But not deep open water.
Come about,
I shouted,
Using my lone nautical phrase.
Said the captain,
An urban, street-wise, two-week sailor.
Whadya think I’m tryna do, genius?
But with the sail still up,
A dark-sky wind blew us, atilt,
Toward a sharp-rock breakwater.
You tryna kill us, come about,
I shouted again.
A final gust blew us over,
A few feet only from the rocks.
Mast over keel,
The dark side bottomed up,
The embarrassed underbelly,
Unseen ’til now…
Like a dark family secret,
That was never supposed to see the light of day.
Floating on its side, we pulled the boat
To a nearby beach…
The captain now triumphant,
Since he saw the center board
Had somewhere gone missing.

The Waiter Had Corned Beef Intuition

Is the corned beef lean or fatty,
I asked the waiter.
Just the way you like it,
He said without pause.
Ever seen me before?
Never, he said.
Then how do you know how I like it?
I have, he said, a waiter’s intuition.
So how’s the corned beef gonna be?
Well, it’s gonna be slightly marbled,
So it’s not too dry,
But with all the fat trimmed around the edges.
Of course, that’s lean
And it’s a buck more.
But um, he said,
Kissing the tips of his fingers…
On rye,
I said.
No seeds, right?
How’d you know?
I told you…waiter’s intuition.

How Are We, the Doctor Asked

A doctor knocked and breezed into the exam room,
Before I could respond, come in.
And how are we feeling today?
He asked.
We, I assumed,
Was the accepted clinical reference
To a single patient.
We are fine,
I said.
And why are we here?
We are here to make sure,
We actually are fine.
Are we experiencing any problems?
None that we are aware of,
I said.
Then, please, can we
Remove our shirt,
So we can see how fine we are.
Minutes later,
Measured, thumped and probed, he said
We do seem fine.
We are surely gratified,
I said.
But we should be seen again,
About six months hence.
I said,
We’ll make an appointment.