United States, (b. 1980)
- In England, an unwelcome guest
- was served mutton’s cheap, tough cut.
- If he lingered the next morning,
- he was given the shoulder again, cold.
- An ocean away, men of North Carolina
- stoked hickory fires. Why wouldn’t
- they reach for a swell called the picnic?
- Who doesn’t drool for an animal
- so savory-strange that it carries its butt
- on its arm? Let us raise the shield
- of appetite, let us bleed hot vinegar,
- let us separate the meat with our fingers.
- All a hog asks is total immersion. We
- are the ones who shame it as wallowing.
- You charge a buck to see the blind tiger;
- I’ll pay a quarter to see the blind pig.
- Here’s to the laws shimmied up and over—
- Here’s to the hosts who match swig for swig—
- Gin at the door is served complimentary;
- two more, we’ll be complimenting the gin.
- Give me an address where no cops can find us.
- Call me a rover, and pour us again.
On “Prohibition Toast” Beasley has said:
Two of my favorite bars are 630 miles apart: the Blind Pig, in Oxford, Mississippi, and the Blind Tiger in Charleston, South Carolina. Their echoing names inspired me to read up on my Prohibition history. Speakeasies often worked by charging at the door to see an animal, exotic or barnyard; the home-stilled libation they put in your hand was, of course, the true motive for the visit.
THE TRUTH ABOUT BACON
- First, we must strip it of its easy name—
- No one ventures into a summer storm
- for the sake of holding an umbrella.
- Each pack an act of transubstantiation,
- the profane returned holy in heat,
- body gone kinetic in the pan
- & damn, who would call it comfort food—
- This flesh, this fat, this sizzle?
- Let it be anything but comfortable. Let this
- be the permission you’ve been waiting for.
- Rubbed in cayenne. Rubbed in cinnamon.
- Rubbed with white sugar, then with brown.
- Rubbed in capers, in great Muppet capers,
- by animal and vegetable, mineral-rubbed.
- Brined in dill that thinks it is coriander.
- Brined in maple syrup. Brined in coffee.
- Brined like the Pennsylvania Dutch do:
- oak-barreled in brine for five weeks
- before hung by a chimney with care.
- Hung by the rafters. Hung in the locker.
- Hung by sawhorse in the best friend’s lot.
- Hung like a firework in the July sky—
- until the pellicle forms, that unsung
- tease of protein that hugs the smoke—
- Smoke from hickory, from applewood,
- from cobs smoldering in their harvest crib.
- Smoke from a roadside roadhouse flare.
- Smoke smuggled stateside by mouth.
- Smoked later in the rind, Szalonna-style,
- fat dripping into mitts of bread and radish.
- Like fingerprints, the catalogue promises.
- Each one different. They come to be confit
- in the cast-iron, slow and low, or microwaved
- to a crisp in their swaddle of paper towels.
- They come for company of greens and eggs.
- They come to our kitchen, singing with ghosts.
- and hunger is the palm that gathers us all.
About the Poet:
Sandra Beasley, United States, (b. 1980) is a poet and non-fiction writer. She is author of three poetry collections: Count the Waves; I Was the Jukebox, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Theories of Falling, winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize.
Honors for her work include a 2015 NEA Literature Fellowship, the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize, the John Montague International Poetry Fellowship, and four DCCAH Artist Fellowships. She is also the author of the memoir Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, and editor of Vinegar and Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance.
Beasley lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, the artist Champneys Taylor. She serves on the Board for the Writer’s Center and is also a member of the Arts Club of Washington. Beasley is also on the faculty of the low-residency MFA program at the University of Tampa. [DES-12/18]