Flavor Town USA Poetry: “The Lowcountry Chef” from THE DUST THAT SINGS by Alex Gregor

 

down on the banks of the Ocmulgee River,
we ride that coal train to the steps of the cemetery,
where the lowcountry chef soaks red beans in well water
& grinds down brown rice to flour, sayin,

i crack an egg open on the spring equinox, slice off
a piece of salami & squeak.

holdin a jar of honeysuckle mead above his head, he says,

like salmon swimmin upstream to spawn and die,
here’s to those that croak along the way,
& here’s to those that get eaten by bears,
& here’s to those who are hooked in mouths, or snagged in bellies.

and here’s to the ducks who died,
when the drug dealers dumped the heroin into the city pond.

and here’s to the the kink in the dungeon,
to those who need a leader and a leash,
a whistle & a blow,
a hack & a handsaw,
a wave & the foam,
a trick & a trade,
goddamn!

he throws back the mead and slams the jar down on the countertop,
grabs a wooden spoon and bangs pots & pans hangin from hooks on the wall.

so we stick our keys into the ignition,
drop mic
& sing,

WE ARE THE DIRT EATERS,
SCRAPING CLAY FROM ROCK QUARRY WALLS.

WE ARE THE HUMMINGBIRDS,
DROPPING WATER ON RAGING FOREST FIRES.

WE ARE THE DUST THAT SCREAMS.

we pick up spatulas, whisks, forks & knives, & beat the pans, chanting:

blessed bee
blessed bee
O,
blessed bee,
the fruit
—may the flower open:

a channel to the sea
a fork for the stream
a spring for a well

(it’s buried there,
waiting to be tapped).

the chef stands up on the countertop & sings:

i spit out & shuck open sweetwater clams,
dance in the blood rain,
wade through the high water.
i ferry yr souls to the land of dreams,
till this river drives up from all this silt.

and at the rising of the sun,
the chef’s hunched over the stovetop makin coffee, sayin,

i’ve been waitin all night for this worm hole to open,
i’ve been waitin all night for this event horizon to spit me back out into the ether,
i’ve been waitin all my life for this black hole sun to swallow me up,

& i never saw this light before.
& i always saw this light open up into a nebulous star.
& i always saw this light upon your forehead.
& i always wanted to see this light upon your forehead.

so he strains his beans & makes wine from peppermint tea,
& gives ya somethin to whistle about:

the poet as a parrot perched up on a pirate shoulder.
the poet as the ventriloquist      //         and the puppet too.

this,
he says,
is a seed
so plant it.

 

Also from THE DUST THAT SINGS

“The Hourglasses”

“The Animal Garden”

“The Bloated Whale & The Barfly”

“The Shrimpboat Captain”

“The Sugar Eaters”

 

Alex Gregor is a writer, editor, and educator from Atlanta, Georgia, currently living in Rome, Italy. He is one of the founding editors of OOMPH! Press, the banjo player in the band, The Ship & The Swell, and a member of the Department of English Language & Literature at John Cabot University. Find out more at marginalcomets.com.

Image: Alex Gregor

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