Eh, not really thrilled with this at all. DVerse wanted a food poem, and I realized that almost all the good food stories I have are already worked into poems; not many options! The situation behind this poem would be better suited to another poem, and the food is not really the centerpiece. But I guess it will kind of suffice? It remains the first and only time that decorum demanded I try foie gras. It was delicious; never again.


You should be in my film, the empress says,
holding court around the dining room table. She is still
formidable in her eighties: she squeezes my hand
with her own, and her rings flash in the light.

Skeletons and mannequins occupy the parlor,
and night birds flap through the evening as it breathes.
And I start thinking too much about the future
at the same time that I think too much about the past.

We are all speaking in hushed tones, sitting in
highbacked chairs. Someone is passing a baguette
for the foie gras that sits like a severed cat’s tongue,
grape jelly for its sorry blood. The empress smiles.

I am too polite for my own good; I make polite
decisions, feel the doors of what my life could be
opening and closing. You should be in my film;
but the night birds are singing, go home, go home.

Say nothing, and the empress’ attention wanders.
The future grows narrow, thinning like a pink taste
in the mouth. Another day begins to ferment
underneath us. My bags have already been packed.

10 thoughts on “Champs-sur-Yonne

  1. brian miller says:

    ha, its funny the situation in which we find ourselves trying new foods….used to work in sales years ago and the rule was if they offered you took…and i ate some pretty nasty stuff in that job…i like how you use the food in the end to flavor the situation…i think you have some room to tighten this down a bit particularly the last couple stanzas to strengthen it, even though they are some of my fav parts…

  2. hmmm…i love foie gras..but oh..sometimes we find ourselves in those kinda difficult dinner conversations when it can go in any direction…good closure image with the thinning pink taste..

  3. vivinfrance says:

    I love the line “Another day begins to ferment” which is where I’m at right now. I also love foie gras – and can remember the ducks running to my neighbour, so eager were they to be “gavé”.

  4. Julie Laing says:

    I’m glad you offered this up for Poetics; you may not think it’s your best food tale, but it’s got some great bites in it. To me, the food is really the setting here, so you have lots of opportunities to play with the piece. For example, I really like the idea of “polite decisions” in the fourth stanza; it seems you could expand on that concept or send it off in a slightly different direction. It said more to me than the second part of stanza 2, which seems vague–although that too could be another place of focus. Just a couple of ideas. :)

  5. tigerbrite says:

    I like this very much and can picture myself at that meal, I’m afraid I would not be as polite as you and would have eaten the bread and bypassed the foie gras, but then I wouldn’t have a poem :)
    If you have written it from scratch specially for the prompt it is an amazing piece of work. Sometimes they just rattle off don’t they? I like to mull mine over a week or so which is not possible in the prompt time, but then there is always that ‘edit’ button:)

  6. kelly says:

    I love the flavor of this… wait, no pun intended… love the setting, and these words:
    “And I start thinking too much about the future
    at the same time that I think too much about the past.”

  7. I love the ending:

    “Another day begins to ferment
    underneath us. My bags have already been packed.”

  8. PJF Sayers says:

    I am not so sure about the “foie gras”, I am not too keen on how the geese and ducks are raised for this delicacy. But, I do love this poem, Joseph.


  9. Kim Nelson says:

    How brilliantly you convey the moment one knows she is not fulfilling preconceived notions or expectations.

  10. Brian: I’m thinking of going back and completely re-writing it. The foie gras was just one example of a fish-out-of-water moment I had that weekend.
    Claudia: it’s so good! and yet so terrible!
    Viv: je peux pas m’imaginer que les canards gavés courent très vîte… ;P
    Julie: it was a wonderful bellwether moment of my life. There was the opportunity to go off on this wild path of art films with some legitimately crazy people, and to be involved in a life that I have sometimes envied. But I think I made the right decision, because it was a weekend full of some of the weirdest, most frustrating times I’ve had. I think I would have regretted saying “yes”.
    Tiger: well, I’m glad the visualization worked at least. But yes, often the prompt time is not long enough for me either; sometimes I sneak them in just under the wire.
    Kelly: I wish I had a better context to use those words in, alas…
    Flipside: that was my favorite part as well. Of course, it might just be because the end meant that I didn’t have to write any more. ;)
    Pamela: it was so awkward. One of those situations where you can NOT refuse the hospitality, but you desperately want to… oy. (I hadn’t eaten it before, and haven’t eaten it since; but oh man, it was so freakin’ good.)
    Kim: glad you liked it!

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