Homage to Jim Harrison

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Seeing the above headline of the cover story in the French daily Libération, I thought I’d offer a poem I wrote some years ago, after lunch, in Paris, in honor of having just eaten an excellent tête de veau, a calf’s head, as homage to the excellent poeta, prosateur, culinary commentator, dégustateur of all things edible, fisher of trout and readers, that was Jim Harrison. May he eat well wherever he is:

Lunch at La Grille (1.30 p.m.

a
calf’s
head
sauce gribiche
pour it on
a childhood pleasure
the creamy white brain
a nano haut-le-coeur
(heart rises to brain to speak its mind)
at the circumvolutions (? check
dictionary – months of French
overlay English – instability of
vocabulary – shimmy back & forth –
love your false friends – the words
migrate in all seasons – as word
for all reasons? – spice up your
vagrant vocables – scheinheilige
where does that German word
come from, now, here, at la Grille,
the grille, the lattice work, whispered
through the monkish grate at
back of mind by childhood
prompter, or Celan’s speech-grille?
((Eisheiliger, Eisbein, Eiswein
or is it the ¼, un quart
Pouilly-Fuissé speaking (schein-
heilig)
sheen-holy,
the brain, the brain = a childhood taste
on toast with black
butter & capers, fork-mashed mother’s treat
— or medical school shiver, cut
ting into soft tissue, an organ
(ogre) held in — fitting, filling —
both hands, shaky pudding
thumbs on “foramina” (sulcus
is that the word, sulcus terminalis,
a furrow twice explored – slight shiver
helps knife – as if it needed it –
slice through non-resistant tissue,
careful/careless share – to eat
everything (a pig, well-used
is 450 servings snout to tail
a pig is haram in Beirut & Darfur,
I am ashamed as I shiver
through he brain – the one on the
plate, or the one in it’s case, this skull? –
a shiv, romantic twitch
in an imagined zigeuner underground
the blubbery cheek – black skin
(Miles called it green on the
pintade’s armpit, refused to
eat, a shudder bigger, more
intractable than my shiver –
shudder of the unknown as
against shiver of history (personal
repetition) easily overcome by
mouth pleasure, tongue in slomo
crushes soft slice against top of
the mouth, palate palace
roof  & last sip.
lean back.

 

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