Flavor Town USA: Three Poems by Paul Siegell


Kirwyn, some white space: A driver delivered our meal-
kits on Saturday & I read your book to my wife last night
while she fixed one for dinner. The transformation from raw
to redaction. Only to transform again.

There’s this pendulum we ride: When she works a 7a-to-7p
at the hospital, I’m on eats. A recipe, delivery, a yum. After
she texts “Walking out” & then “In Uber” or “In Lyft” & I
“Yay” or even “Door’s unlocked,” Lauren returns around 8
& our critters & cookings hug her back into comfort.

It’s not uncommon for her to have a sad to story, the seri-
ousness of children, but if I time it right, dinner’s not yet
cold as she comes back down from her post-shift shower.

“How’d it go?”

On her off days, in kind, we switch to she’s chef & I’m
dishes. Last night: Korean chicken tacos with marinated
cucumbers, roasted carrots & Brussels sprouts. Heaven sent
in the treasure chest.

Adding to the love, it was one of those nights I rode the two
stops on the Broad Ridge Spur & walked the two blocks till
I reached ours, & after Maddie’s pink-nosed wag greeted
me in, so did a slim package set to explode upon the table:
A poet sent, a poet arrived.

Jump Ship. Home with my wife.

Shortly after, ingredients out, I slid chair into kitchen,
upped feet onto stool & then, Kirwyn, “Ash in the lyric,”
then it was you. “[T]o crawl out of an atom,” Lauren set
the oven to 450. And as became your challenge, a few poems
in I could no longer sit. I rose to your “Taunts to the Klan”
& attempted delivery to the spices, sizzles & slices.

Lauren hovered once, knife in hand, brows astounded.

Time to eat. We made it to page 28, &, over the opportun-
ity of our tacos, considered what such interrogations, raised
artistic fists, might have felt like to express—then what we
could do to add more humanity, “I am already other,” into
our lives.

And as I cleared the table & began the dishes, the mess we
made, I felt the need to share: for its worth: I never, not once,
read aloud your written word.


If the keep-out coil of wire
atop the chain link fence
reacts to become the spiral

notebook of a seventh grade
girl with separated parents and
a crush on a boy in eighth,

then I’m the nearly-spring squirrel,
tail-up scampering through its
corkscrew, undeterred by the barbs—

I had a good thing by those trash
cans, night before the big trucks
come, lids opened just enough—

But now I’m being forced to run
from a pit bull mix with a bark that
backs off all the neighborhood

kids and a thick brown neck that’s
leashed to just some middle-aged
guy who’s not paying attention


Somebody swan :: jawn song ::
“And that was easily the drunkest I’ve ever been—on my bike.”

Somebody seahorse :: echo acrobats ::
“Who wants a bartender happier than they are?”

Somebody scorpion :: punk onions ::
“D’you got work tomorrow? That’s everyone’s problem tonight.

But not mine!”

Somebody starfish :: isosceles synagogue ::
“Small, unpretentious dance floors and anywhere with telescopes.”

Somebody Sasquatch :: whatever watermelon ::
“My sister just failed the rubber glove test in veterinarian school.”

Somebody stingray :: coin ruin ::
“I’m gonna get you so naked, yer not gonna have any clothes on.”

Somebody salmon :: leftover lover ::
“You look at him sometimes and the lights are on, but just not the

ones that should be.”

Stork somebody :: baby glacier ::
“My sister and I used to talk about who we’d live with after our

parents got divorced.”

Somebody shark :: ukulele clueless ::
“Because that’s what happens when you don’t take care of things.”

Somebody squirrel :: jasmine contraption ::
“My bad. It didn’t look like mine, but I don’t have my glasses on.”

Somebody shrimp :: a.m. aim ::
“I made some wrong mistakes.”

Somebody salamander :: ornamental oatmeal ::
“Who cares if they started off the season as a Super Bowl contender?”

Somebody sponge :: rain training ::
“I’m really bad at drinking water. It just doesn’t do anything for me.”

Somebody seal :: radio cradle ::
“You put a little pump with the drums underneath and it’s game time.”

Somebody stallion :: SEPTA soap ::
“And when it came out, all those laxatives came through with alarm.”

Somebody snail :: sweaty pretzels ::
“I apologize in advance for everything I just said.”

Somebody seagull :: Fort Orpheus ::
“Besides being unable to make eye contact with you while we do this,

it’s actually not that bad.”

Some spider :: oink inquiry ::
“Where should I go? I’ve a long layover in Charlotte and never been.”

Somebody sheep :: octave nerve ::
“Your Credit Card Payment is Due Alert From Chase Card Services”

Somebody sloth :: oddly awed ::
“I like it, but I don’t know that I want the words tattooed onto me.”

Somebody snake :: Eden needed ::
“I could recommend a big book if you’d like to read more about it.”

Somebody sailfish :: citrus Icarus ::
“But seriously, how many more days until I don’t do this anymore?”

Somebody sardine :: abstract pact ::
“Sorry, what? I just zoned out on that neon sign: the ‘S’ is flickering.”

Paul Siegell’s most recent books are The Tongue They Shared (Moonstone Press, 2021) and Take Out Delivery (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018). He was Pennsylvania’s 2021 Montgomery County Poet Laureate. Kindly find more at: paulsiegell.com.

Image: saltwatersportsman.com

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