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.