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Featured Guest Poet C. Matthew Tusa

Cooking Alone

At two a.m. excitement steams the kitchen
like breath. On the countertop an onion
sheds its silvery blouse, shrimp slip
from their pink shells. In the greasy light
of the stove a ladle drools over a rump
roast. Gravy hisses.

What a joy it is, the whole
steamy affair the poke and prod
of thermometers and forks,
the purple blush of beets,
peas staring eagerly
through wet black eyes,
oysters bracing themselves
for the knife's quick shuck.

March, 1999

C. Matthew Tusa's Questions:

I have two questions regarding the above poem one, does the poem seem finished?

Is the purpose of the comparison apparent?

Mr. Tusa: This poem does not seem quite finished to me. But to stretch it out in the same manner that the current stanzas are written (having more inanimate objects personified to stand in for human actions/desires) would be to overkill it. I think it feels unfinished (and this perhaps addresses your second question) because emotional intent seems stagnant. Although the poem is sensuous on any level, it doesn't telescope into a broader human attachment/subject. The question "is the purpose of the comparison apparent" begs the question: is the comparison too obvious. The lovely rhythms and fine images make for delicious writing, but the sensuous nature of shared excitement is somewhat toned down by your title: "Cooking Alone" - does this imply auto eroticism, at 2:00 AM? Is that the purpose? I suppose the purpose could be to demonstrate that "what a joy it is" in literal cooking can be a substitute for the more sexual joy of relationships when one is forced to "cook alone." I really liked the deft touches you've shown in this piece; the alliteration, assonance, line breaks, clever use of doubling language. Perhaps it's best not to have an apparent purpose. You certainly made me hungry, for what I'm not sure. Nice read. Regards, Larry
Larry L. Fontenot
USA - Wed Mar 22 15:10:04 2000

The poem seems almost complete--and, considering all the innuendo, almost complete maybe finished enough. I cannot know your intended purpose for the comparisons in the poem, but I can tell you what I read here. Considering the lonely title, I be a substitution of food for sex.
Mary Masi
USA - Thu Mar 23 10:43:13 2000
The poem seems unfinished to me. It alive, full of aromas and sounds; the joy of cooking is vividly conveyed. Yet, I expected two further lines, a close that made me share the why of this joy of cooking alone early in the morning. Because, for sure, the joy is present. Cooking, food to be precise, is associated to sensual pleasure. If this is what you wanted for your poem, you achieved it. I still think, anyway you need a tad bit more to "feed" the reader to satiation. Love how you constructed the poem. Enjoyed the read a lot. Thank you. Paula Grenside
Paula Grenside
USA - Sat Mar 25 07:47:19 2000
To me, who love to cook at any time in the morning, and for whom cooking is often a metaphor for life, the poem seems complete, and yes, sensual, and simply about the joy of being alive, which one must feel alone, as that is how we are born and how we leave the planet. So, for me it works on several levels.
Silvia Antonia Brandon
USA - Sat Mar 25 18:28:30 2000
A most effective poem. Then it quits. Just as you have me eager to go on; you stop. Marvelous sensual and physical images. Return to this poem and read it to yourself and then roll on. It has the impetus, pick it up. REN
Rennick W. Harris
USA - Thu Mar 30 16:43:32 2000

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