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« "Pink Shutters" [by Elaine Equi] | Main | The New York School Diaspora (Part Seventy-Two ): Trey Moody [by Angela Ball] »

March 24, 2024


This is such a surprising and delightful poem! I love:

sauerkraut in three colors, like some nation’s flag/left outdoors in a storm and shredded....

And I learned something too that I didn't know:

Coming out makes your blood pressure go down.

Brava, Stephanie! And thank you, Terence, for giving us this poem...

Denise: thanks for commenting.

Let me just say: I love Stephanie Burt, one of our finest critics and teachers of poetry and one of our most astute poets. Thank you, Terence, for posting this smart, surprising, and sensual poem.

damn damn damn do i love this poem, so seriously playful, or playfully serious, deep yet light, sensual and cerebral, salty and sweet, tasteful and thirsty, enlightening and entertaining, and so feckin smart, i could go on, like inspiring and consoling and...

You're welcome, Emily. Thanks for the comment.

This is a great, mouthwatering poem that expertly explains how “you can know what you need
before you know why.” Terry, looking at the dessert photo while wanting pickles is hurting my brain.😉

Thanks for the comment, Abbie (the Parkway is only a few miles away).

Juicy juicy poem! Agreed that Stephanie Burt is a national poetry treasure! Such a beautiful and moving contrast in this poem between the bursting, flagrant, salt, tart and sweet flavors of the items in the pickle bar, and the burgeoning, but still submerged (at the time the poem takes place) big secret contained within the speaker.

Stephanie lives as she writes, filled with everything electable.

Burt’s poem is terrific, delights the senses, and shakes us awake by recastiing the old cliché, “you are what you eat” in a heartfelt way. (Side note: I just was introduced this week to the Parkway and its pickle bar. Burt illuminates it perfectly!)

Thank you, Stephanie and Terence!

Great poem! Delightful and “meaty”…nice rhythm to it…will have to check out more of her poetry!…Thank you Terence and thank you Stephanie!

David: thanks for the comment.

Thanks for your comment, Leslie.

Wow! A huge "Hats in the air!" for this one!

I am in total agreement with Michael Lally’s comment. It’s a terrific poem as is the artwork.

Thank you for the comment, Eileen.

I love this, love the opening and repeating line, You can know what you need before you know why, love the child's view , love the pick-your-own-pickle-bar . . . love the colors, the taste, the wonder, the insight . . . I agree with all that's been said. What a stunning poem!

Taste buds obviously get their due in this deliciously composed poem by Stephanie Burt. But diverse, sumptuous food and favorite dishes aren’t the only subjects being explored “At the Parkway Deli.” Sexual identity, preference, and transition are also being served: deftly, cogently, insightfully, and, yes, tastefully. The verb “need” in the first line could just as easily have been “want,” but that would have skewed the poem to mere self-desire rather than crucial self-destiny. This distinction is a vital signpost to what follows in the poem. From the first line to the twenty-second line (up to and including “good for you”), it’s about that “ten-year-old me” savoring various delicacies described both flavorfully and metaphorically: “green sour tomatoes that pop / whenever you cut or bite into them, / intricate as a satellite inside,” “sauerkraut in three colors … like some nation’s flag,” “half-sours and dills … curled up at their tips like canoes,” and “banana peppers the shape / of your tongue if you stick out your tongue, / that also burn your tongue.” The poem’s rhetorical change starts right after the signaling words “yet not dessert, and good for you” in the twenty-second line. Similes and other metaphoric language disappear: “How many years / till I found out why trans girls and women crave salt. / Coming out makes your blood pressure go down” and “I wanted to change me. I would tell no one. / I would stand outside until I was 41, / waiting to be let in.” That’s a wait of 31 years, from the “ten-year-old me” in the second line to the 41-year-old adult in the twenty-eighth line. But as the first-person narrator in the poem stipulates twice: “You can know what you need before you know why.” That statement will stick with me. This is a great, gutsy, gustatory poem by Stephanie Burt. Kudos also to Terence Winch on choosing the poem and the savory art to accompany it. [Sidebar to Stephanie: Like you, I miss Maya Moore, who left the Minnesota Lynx and the WNBA in 2019 to pursue a noble cause. I also read and enjoyed your book SHOT CLOCKS: POEMS AND AN ESSAY FOR THE WNBA back in 2006.]

Thanks, Earle. Your comment is also tasty.

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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