time for another minnesotan
This week I’m giving Bill Holm some time on the blog. Fellow Minnesotan, China traveler, a writer, and suspected all-around-great person, which has been confirmed for me by people who actually hung out with him while he was still with us here on earth.
I’ve been carrying around his book of poems Playing the Black Piano, which I picked up last winter after the New Standards Holiday Show included one of the poems. The book was one more thing to stuff into my suitcases, but it’s not very heavy, and I had a hunch I’d be happy to have it. It’s been in my daily backpack the last weeks and I read a poem or two while riding on the metro or before sleeping. (I have not taken to sleeping on the metro, but many do, so maybe those occasions will combine someday.)
Many of the poems have spoken to my feelings and observations as an outsider in Shanghai. I’ll share a few with you this week.
FOOD FIGHT DUET. SANICHTON, B.C.
for Louise Halfe and Lorna Crozier
In this genteel Canadian suburb
Cree and Icelander duke it out
over which morsels from nature
can be taken by mouth.
Says Icelander: “Pickled ram’s balls, rotten shark,
sour seal flipper.”
Says Cree: “Boiled moose nose, rabbit brains,
raw elk’s liver.”
Says Icelander: “I’ll see your deer kidney
and raise you a cod cheek.”
“Indian popcorn,” says Cree.
“Fried chunks of bear fat–delicious!”
Icelander volleys back a shot:
“Dried stinky fish in the texture of cardboard.”
Cree slams it over the net:
“Ah! Moose cock jerky spread with gut fat!”
Torpedo-shaped carrots sit in a porcelain bowl
next to the green-flecked sour cream dip
as the food of the poor flies through the air
never bothering to land on a plate at all–
not a menu but an honor roll.
(from Playing the Black Piano 2004 Milkweed Editions)