127 USES OF PALM TREES
include alcoholic sap, fed to
babies and beentos, swaddled
in emancipated ways. Add one
Star beer bottle of palm oil, portable
and characteristic, dropped on a map
to sprout and spread. Culture-bound
by any standard, deny the pallidly
deficient, colonial imprint, the inept
Anglicized experience fermented in
Turkish towels. These are the ancient
structures. The tin-roofed, bamboo-sided
nutrition. The lean-tos of authentic subsistence.
Found from Hatchen, Harva.
Kitchen Safari: A Gourmet's Tour of Africa.
New York, NY: Atheneum, 1970.
This poem was written as a collage using words from a vintage cookbook similar to the ones pictured. I collect these cookbooks because I also write cookbooks, and I like to see the progression in the field. Some of these were written for new gadgets at the time; some were written for brands; others were themed; and some are personal, handwritten books that are deteriorating. In that respect, nothing's really changed. But language-wise, these older books use diction and syntax that we no longer employ—and poetically, they lead to such surprising places. This poem is one in a series that I began when I first started to go through my books in anticipation of a move. I realized that I would have to downsize my collection and put most of the ones I kept in storage. We did eventually move this past November, and I have unpacked a few boxes so far, but the book that this poem came from is still apparently in storage.