Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Macaroni & Cheese (the poem)

Macaroni & Cheese

A C augmented chord huffing autumn thru a 12-button accordion
the evenings are guinea hen gray
                                            we have seen so much & forever is so
short a time really the gusts coming down off Council Mountain full of
geese & swans & now it’s March & you said
“You’re making a white sauce,” incredulously because I didn’t know
          any better

Yellow marimba mallets bouncing down a chromatic bass line the
tree you showed me where to plant is grown into goldfinches chirping
          all May—
6 tablespoons of butter melting in a copper pot with
                                            flour black pepper paprkia
the willow’s leaves the china jade & honey agate rosary beads the
tree of life—time is moving chromatic & crisp & hollow
along the wooden keys—“Dreaming on clouds of butter fat” you said—

Something about our life & the recipes found in a 1933 Fannie Farmer
Cookbook is both the same & alien—whisking the roux & the white
sky in July the smoke from the Snake River valley fires
inexorable as a freight train crossing Oregon
                                            as things breaking down
inside & 3 cups of milk which can be 2% fat if you wish

& things breaking down inside the body that is—the milk & flour
thickening in the whisk—a syncopated flute solo starting on low
E recalling how Yellow-headed Blackbirds
                                            sing guttural & vanish
“Is it really 6 cups of grated cheese?” you asked, astonished.
Yes I said yes & I meant it everlasting i.e. a lifetime is how many years the chokecherries scarlet in autumn the frozen fog sculpting the
          willow in

December the juncos foraging for seeds across the deck a layer of
macaroni (cooked al denté 1st – a layer of cheese—a layer of macaroni topped with cheese & white sauce—repeat—the stoneware
          pot baked at 400 roughly
45 minutes—you know when it’s done when you see it—
                                            I’ve said everything I meant
to say to you—a bowed bass trembling against your body—I’ve really
          said nothing

Jack Hayes
© 2010


  1. This is so sad. The line, "I've said everthing I meant
    to say to you—"

    really struck me.

    The way the recipe is interwoven in the poem is so skilfull and on so many levels it gets through—the mundanity of life, but also the beauty in same.
    Another great one, John.


  2. Hi Kat: Yes, there is some sadness here. I suppose there is always some sadness in a deep love. Glad you liked it!

  3. Beautiful John. There is so much about this that I love. You had me at:
    "...the evenings are guinea hen gray
    we have seen so much & forever is so
    short a time really the gusts coming down off Council Mountain full of
    geese & swans..."
    Are you longing for spring, both actually & metaphorically?

  4. Hi Lizzy: So glad you liked it! This poem actually was written in the spring--June 2008.

  5. June 2008? So you survived the 6 cups of cheese. I am always amazed at the amounts of unhealthy things that go into recipes. Making a sandwich I might think "go easy on the cheese" and then when we make something like this we're throwing in tons! Same with sugar, butter, etc.

  6. Hi Dominic: Of course, it's not as if we ate it all at one sitting! That recipe usually produces leftovers for at least a few days. There is also plenty of butter as well. Overall, we eat a pretty healthy diet, but there's nothing like some good comfort food every once in awhile.