Until a friend posted this article on Facebook, I had not really looked at this poem in three years.
In November of 2009 I was asked if I'd like to be in a poem a day group online. There would be critique and, I thought, support. Coming out of IWPS I had not written anything and thought it would be a good way to kick start the process. I knew only a couple poets of the dozen or so that were in the group and wondered how that would go. The first mistake I made was not knowing the audience.
The poem was in no way finished, and greatly flawed. It was about all I'd had written and I threw myself into the fray with the first poem submitted to the group.
The first comment I received back was, in part, "To this, my rebuttal will be: YOU ARE WRONG." (sic) And to, "please think seriously about food and your relationship with it; I think that would make for stronger and more convincing material."
Here is where I wanted to say to please think about how you interact with strangers over the internet you have never met but I was not in the mood to go on with a fight with a complete unknown on day one. I also received some feedback that the punctuation needed work, that it was too straight forward. (Much of what I write is, I know my flaws) but the poem was not a personal attack. More of a snarky rant that was admittedly without focus. A first draft.
Never had another comment from the person who made the first critique for the rest of the month. Somehow I did manage to write 30 poems that November, not everyone in the group could. Without going back and looking I'm not sure if any of my work has stuck around in my rotation. There was a decent pantoum in the mix.
It was my first, and so far last, experience of working with a group online and I have no great desire to repeat the experience with anyone. Errors were made. It felt like high school and I got very little out of it. Day one was not one that gave me any enthusiasm to continue with any group projects in the future.
Anyhow, here's my rewrite of the piece, warts and all, which I've worked on the past couple of days. Maybe it's a piece of nonsense with a "napkin-dangling straw man" (yeah, the first critique again) but it's done. Sometimes you have to burn shit, or never reveal it. Sometimes they have to be released, somewhere, even when it's not an open mic night. Hey, I have a blog for that!
Pin the tail on the sacred cow
I do not want to know the biography, genetics, the family tree of every animal I eat
Nor do I wish to know the amount of water, what kind of fertilizer
the level of organic biodynamic, whatever.
Or whether the beans were direct descendants of Mendel's experiments
which goes into the plants I consume
To be told the stress level of the vines and how many grape varietals went into the blend of that French wine from the Rhone I drank too much of
last night is beyond my level of caring.
Been there, failed to be a sommelier.
I like music, and knowing about musicians
But wanting to know when, where and who Charlie Parker
shot up with before he recorded Orinthology -
or Jim Morrison's blood alcohol content
when he recorded Roadhouse Blues is not information I care to seek out
It’s not going to make the voice sound any clearer,
give the mix more passion or make the horn sound any sweeter
Somedays you want to simply listen
Others to simply eat
You go right ahead and look up those things. I'm hungry
You want slow food
I want quiet food
I know you and I both want good food
Knowing about emulsifiers, natural gums, sustainable agricultural trends and
what makes the cheese artisanal is not going to make what is on my plate
go down my gullet better
Good things one and all, you hear what's going on in my abdomen though?
While I support your remarkable efforts at using
locally grown produce and other food stuffs in your bistros, cafes
the now peaking past the curve food truck -
do not throw me into a barbecue pit of your jargon,
expecting me to be armed with volumes of Escoffier and Pollan
to remotely comprehend what it is you are serving me
Or even worse, you explaining it all and I mean it *all* to me
as I try to put the fork in my mouth while I'm interrupted with paragraph after paragraph of your foodie wisdom
Don’t batter me around with gently farmed, vibrant,
free range molecular gastronomy served at clandestine dining establishments with communal tables built from salvaged materials of torn down Indiana barns
After the day I've had, will you let me simply sit, chew, swallow then excrete?
In the end, that is all everyone does.
The story, is nice
The constant assault of branding is demeaning, overwhelming, occasionally insulting
When a server tells me every detail of the nightly specials, I am starving to death while my head nods
May I have a pizza please?
Hold the anchovies
Especially if they’re over harvested out of the cold waters of the North Atlantic by an independent commune of Icelandic fishermen -
who only use dolphin safe netting