Monday, April 18, 2011

Celebrating Poetry: What's That Smell in the Kitchen?

by Marge Piercy

All over America women are burning dinners.
It's lambchops in Peoria: it's haddock
in Providence; it's steak in Chicago:
tofu delight in Big Sur; red rice and beans in Dallas.
All over America women are burning food they're supposed to bring with calico smile on
platters glittering like wax.
Anger sputters in her brainpan, confined but spewing out missiles of hot fat.
Carbonized despair presses like a clinker
from a barbecue against the back of her eyes.
If she wants to grill anything, it's
her husband spitted over a slow fire.
If she wants to serve him anything it's a dead rat with a bomb in its belly ticking like the
heart of an insomniac.
Her life is cooked and digested,
nothing but leftovers in Tupperware.
Look, she says, once I was roast duck
on your platter with parsley but now I am Spam.
Burning dinner is not incompetence but war.

from Circles on the Water: Selected Poems of Marge Piercy
photo credit

I'm a poetry novice, and this one has left me speechless. Anger is not an emotion I tend to associate with poetry. But, why not?  Poetry gives voice to a wide range of feelings with keen and often profound insight.  When I read this to my husband, he responded "How about take-out tonight, dear?"

April is National Poetry Month. I'm posting a poem each week in celebration.


  1. Wow, this is pretty powerful! That's what I like about poetry when I like it - it says so much so economically. Thanks for sharing this one!

  2. I love your husband's response. This is a powerful poem - and poetry is an excellent vehicle for expressing anger.

  3. Passive-aggressive poetry?

    No one likes to feel like spam.

    Happy Monday....:)

  4. Love your husband's response! And that is a seriously powerful poem.

  5. Your husband sounds like a keeper and that poem made me eyes bug out of my head!!

  6. Rhapsodyinbooks - That's exactly what I've come to love about poetry over the past few months.

    Julie - I'm just taking baby steps with poetry... guess I'd never considered it as a vehicle for expressing anger. Thanks so much for visiting.

    Lee - It would appear so;-) Happy Monday to you, too!

    Sam - Isn't that powerful? I was practically speechless after reading it.

    Staci - Oh, he is! That was pretty much my response...

  7. JoAnn--I love the new picture at the top of your page!!!

  8. Victoria - Thank you! The sunset a few nights ago gave the lake such a beautiful pink color ... just had to share it.

  9. Your husband's response made me chuckle. Great response to a very powerful poem. I loved the graphic above it as well!

  10. Thanks, Teddy Rose! I'm finally starting to appreciate poetry. Glad you like the graphic... it seemed to fit the poem perfectly. Will get back to short stories in May :-)

  11. Ha! Take out sounds appropriate after this poem. Love the picture to go with it as well.

    When I think of anger in poetry, Daddy by Sylvia Plath immediately comes to mind. Betting your collection includes the poem.

    I love all of these posts, JoAnn--tempt me to dig out the poetry and find something to share.

  12. Trish - I'm really having fun with poetry this month... who would have thought?? Will look up Daddy in the Plath collection. Hoping to hear exciting news from you very soon :-)

  13. Loved the bit about the dead rat!

    When we were first married, I sprayed the oven with Easy-Off one night while R was at work. I went off to work the next day meaning to wash out the oven when I got back. R had dinner waiting for me when I got home....roast chicken! He didn't know about the Easy-Off (poor guy was 23). That dish will always be referred to as Chernobyl Chicken and it ended up in the bin.

  14. Darlene - Chrenobyl Chicken?! That is just hysterical! My husband used to cook dinner often back in the early days, but I'm afraid it's a rare occurrence now...

  15. Love your husband's response! ha ha!

  16. Christy - He's got quite a sense of humor :-)

  17. Fun! I recognized the name -- used one of her quotes on my quotography entry this week. :)

  18. Georgia Girls - I laughed out loud at this one. She certainly is very quotable!


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