chocolate for poetry

I do a lot of barters. I’ve bartered for tomatoes (last year my favorite farmer gave me an almost endless supply of “seconds” tomatoes in exchange for a constant supply of Raspberries de Pizan—made with raspberries another farmer down the road had grown!), ad space, photography, art, Thai yoga massages, books, web design, graphic design, publicity, clothes clothes clothes, picture framing, and so much more.

I don’t know how to say this politely because I have a feeling some of my current barterees (?) read this here blog, but I think this is the best barter I’ve ever done: chocolates for poetry.

Remember my swooning over the cutie-pie poet Matthew Dickman? No? OK, here’s everything I’ve ever said about him. Via the magical internet, we’ve become email pals. (I love you, magical internet.) When Matthew went to Marfa, Texas (this bizarrely awesome teeny tiny town pretty much owned by artists you’ve probably heard of because it seems all the cool kids know about Marfa. All I know about it is that there is beautiful stationary in the hotel Jacob stays in when he’s there, which is weirdly often—I’m not sure how this miniscule Texas town can afford to keep having amazing indie bands come play there, but they do, so good for them) and needed a chocolate fix he asked if I wanted to trade chocolate for poetry.

Oh, my. Oh my! What an offer! So I did, and he did, and here’s the result.

(And vegans, I know what you’re going to say: pork bellies, wtf? My friends: please note how the poem begins on a sad, lonely street and ends up in a chocolatey, happy, pork belly-free place—a vegan utopia, if you will.

Anyway that’s how I’m reading it.)

Prepare to have your breath taken away:


for Lagusta Yearwood

The kitchen of Le Pigeon is empty

but for the ghosts of Bordeaux and pork bellies, a dark

black cherry sauce. I’m walking home

through a district

of porches and tea-lights lighting up backyards and living

rooms. People must love each other

here. Have you ever stayed up drinking

all night and in the morning

wake up feeling like the Irish Republican Army

found out you voted for Home Rule, pushed you in a van

while you slept, and woke you up

by cracking your head open with a metal pipe? I keep thinking

that my life would be better

if I ended up in an abbey with a wooden bowl and a wooden desk

to eat and sleep on. I was feeling alone

and miserable when the chocolates Lagusta sent

arrived in a big white box. Peanut butter cups and triangles

full of coconut and cream, little spicy ones

made with peppers like a Lorca poem. After the first one melted

over my tongue

it was all blue stockings flashing through the grass and springtime

though it’s January, ridiculous

horn sections and string quartets. The chocolates are amazing!

One minute you’re listening to Leonard Cohen,

looking around the house for a razor

you can run along your arm without the worry of fainting,

and the next your mouth is full

of vulva-shaped bonbons, you’re speaking French, writing apologies

to all the women you’ve kissed, cutting

everything red into the shape of a heart, breaking

like a storm and then forming again into a kind of brave, beautiful, parade.

14 Responses to “chocolate for poetry”

  1. ruby

    I can’t believe he wrote you a poem. What a wonderful thing to read after biking home past the dirty snow on this springlike Saturday night.

  2. brittany



    • lagusta

      none! I mean, sourdough starter is free–let’s meet up & i’ll give you some & money for the delicious pumpkins!

  3. laceyputnam

    The poem he wrote for you is beautiful. I also love his other poems.
    You are one lucky lady!!!

  4. W.F.Roby

    Not to shit in your soup, but this “poem” of Dickman’s is more of the same. Where’s the craft? Where’s his attention to detail? Why is this a poem and not broken prose? There’s no spiritual charge, no electricity, nothing to make me stand to my toe’s tips. Typical of Dickman’s work, there is zero sense of craftsmanship. Why break the following lines this way —

    “made with peppers like a Lorca poem. After the first one melted
    over my tongue
    it was all blue stockings flashing through the grass and springtime
    though it’s January, ridiculous”

    rather than break it any other way? Remove the breaks from the lines and this is flabby prose. Hipster poetry for those unfamiliar with our cultural and literary history.

    I say give back the poems and keep your yummy looking chocolate.


    • lagusta

      Wow, way to rain on my parade, yo. I actually have some poetry cred–I studied English in school, and spent my entire senior year writing a (prize-winning!) thesis on Adrienne Rich. Until I became a chef, poetry was pretty much my life. So, sorry, but I know my Sharon Olds from my W.S. Merwin, and I hereby decree that Dickman is the shiz.

      The line breaks are perfect. Step off. Clearly you don’t get what chocolate does

      over [your] tongue

      And why you’d want to highlight it.

      “our cultural and literary history”? Ugh. Sorry if you feel the riff raff is intruding on your turf.


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