White Rice

White eat
White rice,
But no longer
At every meal,
Unless abroad,
Where the unrecognizable
Makes the palate
Long for home.

In the morning,
Replace the cereal,
Milk and juice,
With meat and fish,
Fried and cooked,
Cracked eggs
Running in a skillet,
Curries and other
Faraway flavors.

There is always toast,
Bland and predictable,
Or eggs,
Just as you please,
Jams to spread
And fruits to peel.

And what the fuck is a coonkee

Century-old measurements
Elude our grasp.
Some sort of weight
Or count.
Whatever it is,
It is enough.
It is plenty.
It is enough
For four
If they’re hungry.

Small or large,
Our oversized
American eyes
Can’t tell anymore
Which is which.
Fill it to the brim.
Just be sure,
Never to feed them
More than half a pound
Of grain.

If it’s good,
And clean,
It will shine
Like amber jewels in the palm
Of your hand.
But be wary
Of the pearly hue,
Gone dull
And streaked.
Apply the needle,
And it crumbles
Into nothing.

And you can’t feed four
On nothing.

Following a prompt from the dVerse Poets Pub on converting prose to poetry, I took the first thing I read in The Indian Cookery Book, circa 1900, and converted it from text to a sort of poem.


About Emily

I may or may not have: A. Dirt B. Ink C. Paint D. Wool under my fingernails.

18 responses to “White Rice”

  1. zongrik says :

    Small or large,
    Our oversized
    American eyes
    Can’t tell anymore
    Which is which. -> that’s a scary commentary on our society

  2. brian miller says :

    that is awesome that you took a cookbook….haha excellent…love the off beat what the fuck in coonkee…lol…that last line is sobering…

  3. Tino says :

    Thats certainly unique, if you can do that with an Indian cookery book, circa 1900, I would love to see what you could do with some decent material 😉

  4. Linda Kruschke says :

    For the most part, I thouroughly enjoyed this poem and appreciate the social commentary on the oversized eyes of Americans (reminds me of my mom telling my eyes were bigger than my stomach, which seemed an odd comment). But unlike Brian, I was taken aback by the interjection regarding the conkee. Call me a prude – or maybe just the mom of a teenager desperately trying to teach him appropriate language in appropriate situations – but I find the “f” word so unnecessary in any situation. Not that I’ve never used it, but it just didn’t add anything to this otherwise wonderful poem for me. Peace, Linda

  5. manicddaily says :

    I loved the idea of a cookbook, which you use beautifully. I’d actually thought of using a Learn Hindi book I had a long long time ago and wrote a poem from, as it was very funny. Particularly the phrases to use on the train. But I didn’t have the book, and I’m not sure where the copy of that poem went!

    Yours worked wonderfully. K.

  6. Ginny Brannan says :

    How clever, I so enjoyed this. Never knew a piece on cookery could be so entertaining!

  7. Mama Zen says :

    This is so creative! Really, really cool.

  8. The Cello Strings says :

    beautiful word flow.


  9. claudia says :

    this is so cool emily…who would’ve thought that even cookbooks have poetic potential..? really blew me away…love it, love it, love it

  10. Laurie Kolp says :

    I think this is amazing and that the interjection of the “f” word is quite effective. Very creative!

  11. Anna Montgomery says :

    I like that you used a cookbook, I’ve often found inspiration in nonfiction. The piece flows well and packs a bite.

  12. Yousei Hime says :

    I’m with Anna; the use of a cookbook was brilliant. My favorite line “And what the fuck is a coonkee/Anyway?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that reading unfamiliar cookbooks with new and unfamiliar cuisine. Your writing proves that poetry and cooking have a lot in common.

  13. Aida says :

    Oh, yeah – I’ll get me some recipes from this book!

  14. Mary says :

    A clever approach to the prompt. The ending cracked me up!

  15. Kathy Bischoping says :

    The final stanza was my favourite, the mix of food and jewels and the eerie entrance of the needle.

  16. zumpoems says :

    Really venturing outside the proverbial box, you able to still swing nicely into the ball and send it out of the ballpark! Would love to see the original text if possible.

    Particulary like:

    Small or large,
    Our oversized
    American eyes
    Can’t tell anymore

    Yes — we eat what every portions are available — small, large or supersized!

    Very nice!

  17. Rosemary Nissen-Wade aka SnakyPoet says :

    Daring of you – and it works so well!

  18. Poets Rally says :

    stunning blog, your poetry is outstanding in many ways, keep exposing your talent to poets around the blogging land.

    How is your day?

    Glad to land here,
    Amazing poetic muses shared,

    Welcome joining us for poets rally week 57,
    A random poem or a free verse is okay.
    Hope to see you in.

    Happy Thursday.

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