Anthony Robinson

Laurel Bay

                    -for Javier Alvarez

The following poem represents the second instance (as far as I know) of a new poetic form. Some blowhard from Illinois christened it the "Mandrake." It involves the naming of poets. The stanzas alternate between roughly rhymed, and only accidentally metrical prophetic visions involving United States Poet Laureates, television sit-coms, and the occasional illicit sex or drug activity and prose sections mostly lifted from the works of such culinary luminaries as James Beard, M.F.K Fisher, and Elizabeth David. By the time one finishes reading the poem, one should have some ideas about what to do with poultry. The final stanza of the "Mandrake" must contain a personal reflection and a morel mushroom.

* * *

And I stepped out from behind the gauzy film
draped in front of the dilapidated pear tree
and behold! Mine own two eyes did see
the headless corpse of my homeboy, Robert Pinsky.

Dressing For Turkey Or Other Fowl With Oysters: Wing the oysters. Add the bread crumbs, oyster juice, and seasoning (salt, pepper, celery salt, paprika). The crumbs should be literally soaked in melted butter, as should all crumbs that go into a turkey. There are ten thousand variations, probably, but the general idea of using oysters as a flavoring is no new one to us, any more that it has been for some several thousand years to the Chinese. Beer: a robust English-style bitter.

The flames raged ragingly about my head,
the waters broke and crashed against my shins,
I surveyed the land, looked below and above,
And over yonder, behold! Stanley Kunitz making love to Rita Dove.

My mother's trick is to stir in a plump lump of honest butter just as the mixture is to be removed from the stove. Ah, that rich Victorian touch of the butter pat! Ah, the good, almost grainy texture, and the forthright ugly color of it in a sauce dish, with milk alongside or a slab of hot gingery molasses cake! Ah, nothing but applesauce-
Beer: a pale summer lager.

I counted a great multitude of MFA students
draped in crimson robes and eating leg of Lamb.
And I watched and heard an eagle call out "Woe!"
Then I settled into my couch and watched "Who's the Boss?"
The episode in which Tony Danza gives a rim job to Robert Hass.

It is important to note, however, that this act of appropriation is not the same thing as assimilation: Kent Johnson is not interested in becoming Japanese. What makes this book unique is that he does not set out to master Greek cooking, but continues to be his own poet, while learning to take advantage of what William Bennett has to offer. His Greek friends are as puzzled as they are appreciative of his efforts, for he takes their ingredients and their dishes and works them to his own taste, after his own manner. This act of heresy must have shocked American reviewers, but when you think about it, what he is doing is exactly right.

All of mankind then on the earth preferred Miracle Whip
to regular mayo. There was weeping from the heavens.
There was gnashing of teeth, tantrums, and a lot of bawlin'
And then, behold! the seventh sign: Billy Collins smoking hash with Sonny Rollins.

Have the lamb boned and cut into one inch cubes. Slice the unpeeled aubergines into quarters and then into half-inch cubes, put them in a colander, sprinkle them with a tablespoon of salt, put a plate and a weight on top, and leave them for at least an hour so that the excess moisture drains out. This is good with a thick frosty mug of A&W Root Beer.

Then I saw in the right hand of he who discourseth on rectums,
a simple silver book well-made and meet, a book with a flower
and poems containing the secrets of misery and loss.
Henceforth, I rubbed my prick and thought about Louise Glück.

Poached chicken can be a delicious dish, especially when it is treated like the poule au pot of France or the pollo bollito of Italy. But it requires careful simmering-the merest bubbling. I lost my virginity to James Beard when I was a lad of fourteen. If you stuff the bird, be sure vent is well sewn up and covered or the broth will seep in and make the stuffing soggy. Poached chicken can be served either hot or cold. If serving cold, provide a cold liquid. Olde English 800, for example.

In the tenth hour there was a very severe earthquake
that fractured the earth. From the smelliest fissure emerged
a horrible beast that spoke as a dragon. He was good, roasted, with salt and cumin.
Then the second angel spoke gravely thus: bring me the head of Maxine Kumin.

There are two ways to boil rice correctly. There are several ways to skin a squirrel for Brunswick Stew. A small dab of butter will keep the pot from boiling over. One very simple casserole, which is delicious with baked ham, is made of lightly boiled noodles tossed with plenty of salt and pepper and one can of mushroom pieces which have been well-browned. Drink with chocolate milk. This is good with toast.

The fifth hippie poured out his now-singed bowl, and rearranged
the pillows on the sofa. He passed around the freshly packed
water pipe, and gathered with his friends to watch, behold! Starsky
and Hutch. Somewhere else, Bill Merwin lunched with Joseph Brodsky.

Now, in my own life, I feel that the quiet drink I have before dinner with my lover, Shep, after the children have been tucked away is one of the pleasantest minutes in all the 1440. It makes the meal which follows seem more peaceful, more delicious. Physically it smoothes out wrinkles of fatigue and worry in both of us, which could, especially if we had been conditioned differently by wrangling parents, lead us inevitably into the Xanthippean tragedy of nagging, and bitterness, and anger, an oft-repeated theme of my boyhood, when I'd steal away into the woods and weep amongst the wild, vaguely phallic, morels.