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Mise en Place




No infinity
and no celestial heat

would soften these beets.




Blink and you’ll miss it:
I’m tossing the pasta.


Jellyfish tentacles 
whipped in the current.


Smoke and stock and
toasted chili flakes.


The garlic at marshmallow tan.


Imagine this wave breaking.
Just imagine my shame.




Whatever genius reminds a person
not to touch the scalding pan: 
this I do not have and cannot learn.




Because I have no garden,
I have a bar. And I tend it
like a garden, with filth
beneath my fingernails.
With a cape of sweat and
the devil in my joints.
With the patience of labor:
that someday, I swear…




I shall not eat bacon 
and I shall not eat pork


for the pigs are so beautiful 
and their hooves are flamenco.


Because they mourn and play
and Hey! so do I. Because


the piglets snore like rising dough and
the old pigs’ ears go soft and sagging. 

I shall not eat gelatin
and I shall not eat ham

because I’m trying to be
kinder and I’m trying to be
thinner and sometimes I worry

there’d be nothing left of me
if you took away the hungers.


The most powerful thing I did all week
was pinch the avocados in the produce aisle
one by one and turn them and tsk 
and, finding them lacking, go simply without.


Deep down, I know
the bay leaf is placebo.
But the best magicians
believe their own tricks.


Because she loves me,
we do not address the
rawness in the center.

She eats it all
and so do I.


Somewhere, in all this body,
I must contain a delicacy.

Some sickly-sweet, some ambergris,
some rare and piquant cut. 

In all this souring, in all this toxic,
find a part to smoke or cure.

You may hate it at first.
Try a little on toast.


From the alley, I discover
a stew has been stovetop 
for several hours.

Cabbage, I’d swear,
some sausage or offal,
and a whole pine forest
of dill from the windowsill.

I hate the smell of dill,
and especially the taste.

But this isn’t about 
what I hate.

This poem was originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of Narrative.

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