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Category: Food

haiku: 9 June 2022

mole, a tamale, refried beans
if only my stomach
were my brain

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9 June 2022
Pittsfield MA

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haiku: 27 May 2022

okonomiyaki
chats with Japanese friends
trying ramen on YouTube

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27 May 2022
State College PA

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Why I didn’t eat popcorn for decades

The Park Square Popcorn Cart

In about 1977, my mom bought me a bag of popcorn from this cart, and then we walked into England Brothers department store, in front of which it was parked. There was an escalator, and as my mom and I went up it I was eating fresh popcorn from my bag. Near the top of the escalator I lost my balance and tumbled all the way to the bottom, popcorn flying everywhere.

From that day onward, I could never eat popcorn without feeling nauseous. I tried many times. My family loved popcorn and made it frequently. I tried when I’d go to the movies with friends. Every single time, I’d take a handful and immediately start feeling sick. That lasted until my early 40s, when I ate some popcorn with no ill effects. I can still eat it today, though I spent so many years avoiding it that I usually forget it exists until I go to a movie.

I took the photo above during my lunch break today. I’m not sure if this is the exact same cart or a replica, but it sure looks the same as the one in my memory. I’m also not sure if this cart is still open for business. There was nobody in it today, but perhaps it’s only open on certain days or at certain times. England Brothers, where my grandmother worked for years, was razed during Pittsfield’s urban renewal.

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POEM: Cucumbers

Cucumbers
for Jennifer

In a life filled with so many memories
that I’ve had to delete many to save space,
I long ago decided to keep the cucumbers.
You know the ones I mean.
We’d get off the train at Ichigao Station,
walk past the outstretched arms of Colonel Sanders
and enter the grocery store.
Near the exit doors on the far
side of the store stood the smiling man.
I remember him having graying hair
that was a little long for a Japanese man his age.
He wore an apron, and he sold his
cucumbers in clear plastic bags.
The cukes were long and thin.
They snapped when you bit into them,
and the water inside tasted like mountains.
We’d eat them on the bus on the way to our apartment,
sometimes finishing the whole bag on the short ride.
I’ve never tasted cucumbers like those since.
I hold onto them and refuse to let go.

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4 May 2022
Pittsfield MA

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haiku: 2 May 2022

daal, naan, chicken makhani
pekoras, masala chai, vindaloo
beat the rain to the office

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2 May 2022
Pittsfield MA

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POEM: Free Chips And Salsa

Free Chips And Salsa

Maybe, just maybe,
there is a corner that can be turned.
A light rain dances on the roof of the van.
Slow jams uncurl from my headphones.
A lone candle flickers in a cup holder.
This parking lot is the end of one road.
This parking lot is the start of another.
All Mexican restaurants should offer
free chips and salsa.

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26 April 2022
Pittsfield MA

(NaPoWriMo Day 26)

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POEM: A Poem About Tea

A Poem About Tea

There’s an electric kettle at the office,
so I made a cup of green tea.
Nothing special, just a bag.
The kettle has a window in the side
so you can watch the magic happen.
And it is magic.
I didn’t grow up drinking tea.
My parents and grandparents
were coffee people.
It was living in Japan that
introduced me to “the taste
of dried leaves boiled in water.”
As a teetotaler (teatotaler?)
who doesn’t drink coffee either,
tea was my entry into a more adult world.
Tea requires a bit of preparation,
some particular tools,
and ends in a special vessel.
Later I lived behind a tea shop.
The first time I entered I was overwhelmed.
So many colors and flavors and textures!
Tea with little flecks of gold.
Tea that looked like yard clippings.
Tea with hefty price tags.
Later still I studied tea ceremony,
learned the minute details
of offering tea as a sign of respect.
This morning, though, it was just a bag
from a brand that advertises
on baseball games.
Poured from a shared kettle
into a travel mug whose origin
I can’t even dimly recall.
Just a container of tea
on my desk under the fluorescent lights.

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25 April 2022
Pittsfield MA

(NaPoWriMo Day 25)

The bit in quotation marks is by Douglas Adams.

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