Flavor Town USA Poetry: “13 Bean Chili (As Desired)” by Avery Gregurich

after Albert Goldbarth

“… and the goof-off kidney and lima and chili beans like Shriners and Masons and lodge brothers
everywhere marching and cavorting …

the lady in the next line over says it has turned into such a
beautiful day because you can’t see the the chemtrails for
once. the day had started out slow, frozen, great northern
beans stuck in my car engine at four a.m. fed the stray some,
drove the ghost’s commute backroads to work and moved
all day dreaming of non-alcoholic beer. what we do all day
really is seek out recipes. everyone has a tip on corralling
beans. i trust the guy whose dad was an architect most. he
went to culinary school and used to have a silver eyebrow
barbell. he says to soak them overnight, that is what the
architect would do. but by the time i hear about the day and
its clear skies i rush home to make chemtrail chili, pour the
water from the big blue plastic jug into a pot. i’m careful to
count the different kinds of beans, but don’t rinse them because
i am curious to taste more foreign material. my grandpa used to
order us chili with extra grease, ask for the ladle to skate across
the surface and collect translucence to be soup-spooned entirely
before the soup crackers could be eaten. to this, i add beef-less
ground beef. now i am dumping in more water, opening vegetable
broth and drinking some cold to measure salt. everything in
this pot is asking for more. even the beer is hollow, so i pour
what’s left in. only the shallot looks comfortable. all the simmering
turns this into something that would serve as a decent spackle, a
real snowmobile stew. bless them, the ones in the breakroom who
will look up from their phones and watch me eat this all week and
ask how it is. i will say i tried to make it from memory, but it turned
to some kind of new family recipe.

Avery Gregurich is a writer living and working in Marengo, Iowa. He was raised next to the Mississippi River, and has never strayed too far from it.

Image: bigoven.com

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