Produce poems?
June 26, 2009 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for poems about food, especially fruits and vegetables.

Anything from the lowest doggerel to the highest verse.

I know about this thread from last year, but I'm hoping for a broader selection (I don't care if it's not in the public domain) and a more specific focus (fruits and veggies).
posted by bubukaba to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Watermelons
by Charles Simic

Green Buddhas
On the fruit stand.
We eat the smile
And spit out the teeth.
posted by jessamyn at 1:32 PM on June 26, 2009

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

-- William Carlos Williams
posted by telegraph at 1:32 PM on June 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: "Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti:

MORNING and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck'd cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheek'd peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries; -
All ripe together
In summer weather...
posted by Evangeline at 1:38 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Food poems thread at Serious Eats.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:39 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: First thing to pop in my head is Neruda's Odes. This link has his odes to tomato, maize, artichoke, lemon (and more non-fruit/veggies. There are more out there that you can Google, including one to the Onion.
posted by hellogoodbye at 1:43 PM on June 26, 2009

Sydney Smith, Recipe for a Salad:

To make this condiment your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard-boil'd eggs;
Two boiled potatoes, passed through kitchen sieve,
Smoothness and softness to the salad give.
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, half-suspected, animate the whole.
Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,
Distrust the condiment that bites too soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault
To add a double quantity of salt;
Four times the spoon with oil of Lucca crown,
And twice with vinegar procur'd from town;
And lastly o'er the flavour'd compound toss
A magic soupçon of anchovy sauce.
Oh, green and glorious! Oh, herbaceous treat!
T'would tempt the dying anchorite to eat;
Back to the world he'd turn his fleeting soul,
And plunge his fingers in the salad-bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say,
'Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today.'
posted by verstegan at 1:58 PM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: From Blossoms by Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
posted by jammy at 2:00 PM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: onions - Lorna Crozier

The onion loves the onion.
It hugs its many layers,
saying, O, O, O,
each vowel smaller
than the last.

Some say it has no heart.
It surrounds itself,
feels whole. Primordial.
First among vegetables.

If Eve had bitten it
instead of the apple,
how different
posted by gursky at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2009

After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing dear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
posted by jammy at 2:07 PM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: Pablo Neruda's "Ode to an Onion" (translation)

luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicating the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
clear as a planet
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
the table
of the poor.

You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are
more beautiful than a bird
of dazzling feathers,
heavenly globe, platinum goblet,
unmoving dance
of the snowy anemone

and the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature.
posted by ga$money at 2:19 PM on June 26, 2009

Anything from the lowest doggerel...

The Apples and Bananas Song
posted by alligatorman at 2:58 PM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: I have a few recipe poems from medieval cookbooks.

Breke egges in bassyn and swyng them sone,
Do powder of peper ther to anone;
Den grynde tansy, tho iuse owte wrynge,
To blynde with to egges with owte lesynge.
In pan or sklet thou shall hit frye,
In butter well skymmet wyturly,
Or white grece thou make take ther to,
Geder hit on a cake, thenne hase thou do
With platere of tre, and frye hit browne,
On brode leches serve hit thou schalle,
With fraunche mele or oper metes with alle. (Liber Cure Cocorum)

There's also one about leeks and almonds. Frankly, now that I've typed it up, it's barely literate, but there you go.
posted by cobaltnine at 2:59 PM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: How about a small slice of "Persimmons" from Li-Young Lee? (Remainder of poem at link.)


by Li-Young Lee
In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undresses, her stomach is white.
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down.
I teach her Chinese.
Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten.
Naked: I’ve forgotten.
Ni, wo: you and me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.


(Do go read the whole thing. It's lengthy, but I couldn't let this post go without including at least a little of this poem.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:48 PM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Not entirely food-related, but I learned this song in grade 1, and never forgot it. I'm now 25!

Orange is a carrot,
Yellow is a pear.
Purple is a plum,
And brown is a bear.
Green is the grass,
And blue is the sky.
Black is a witch's hat,
And red is cherry pie.
posted by just_ducky at 4:50 PM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: It's not an entire poem about produce, but here is an excerpt from A Supermarket in California by Allen Ginsberg.

What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, Garcia Lorca, what
were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery

I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the
pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans
following you, and followed in my imagination by the store

We strode down the open corridors together in our
solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen
delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
posted by univac at 4:59 PM on June 26, 2009

MAD PROPS to jessamyn for "Watermelons." Please find Simic's "The Soup," Wallace Stevens' "The Emperor of Ice-Cream as well as Mark Strand's "Eating Poetry" enclosed. Because poetry is good food. And also because "The Soup" is a damn incredible read. Apologies for any typos.


Take the lump in your throat,
And the hair standing on your head,
And your dirty feet,
And your cock and your fingernails.

The clock that goes to 13.
The bare room, the iron cot.
The cockroach of history running up the wall.

Instead of salt,
Laugh into it.
Instead of pepper,
Swear loudly.

Then wipe your red nose
On the black armband on your sleeve.


The soup of fortune tellers,
Watchmakers, mirrormakers.
Steaming soup
Full of skulls and bones.

The soup of alchemists,
Pickpockets, fishermen for souls,
Widows, orphans and blind beggars.
The soup beloved by flies.


On what shall we cook it?

On the moustache of Joseph Stalin.
The fires of Treblinka.
The fires of Hiroshima.
The head of the condemned
The head swarming with memories.

Let's cook it until we raise
Our mothers' white bodies
Out of its murky depths.
They're huge, they are beautiful.
They're soaping themselves and laughing


What do you think it will taste like?

Like spit on the dice.
Like barbed wire.
Like the black panties of Dulcinea of Toboso.
Like her toes painted red.
The angel riding a fat pig
Saying things in its ears
That make the pig blush.

At the end of a short, dark winter day,
We arouse the gods' curiosity
By ladling the soup of the world
Past our teeth.


What shall we eat it with then?

With an old shoe left in the rain.
Two eyes quarreling in the same head.
The solitude of black wings.
The fish in the pet store aquarium that never sleeps.

We'll sit slurping
With our hats on:
A soup like forest of whispers,
A hearty slaughterhouse soup


And this is what will have on the side:

The bread of memory, a black bread.
Cold wind fried in onions.
Blood sausages of yes and no.
A goose-roast of darkest thoughts.
A drop of milk from the Blessed Virgin's breast.

Columbus pissing at night in mid-Atlantic
With a sense of eternity.
That wine, that moonlight!
The sea and the sky like a wide-open mouth.

AND JUST for kicks, another poem by Simic. Only mentions a crumb, but the ants are pretty freakin cute, and it's a great pick-me-up of a poem.


There now, where the first crumb
Falls from the table
You think no one hears it
As it hits the floor

But somewhere already
The ants are putting on
Their Quakers' hats
And setting out to visit you.
posted by herrdoktor at 5:17 PM on June 26, 2009

There are many ways to use Strayer's Vegetable Soybeans

To hours, enough. Remove enough
And. Remove enough
Minutes. And not Iowa
Water and Iowa simmer.
To or
Until simmer. Enough
Simmer. To. Remove and Iowa enough. Remove simmer.
Vegetable. Enough good enough to and buttered loaf, enough
Simmer. Or Iowa buttered enough and not simmer.

Tomatoes, hot egg. Roll egg.
Added. Roll egg.
Minutes. Added, nutty in.
Wash added, in soak
Tomatoes, overnight,
Until soak egg,
Soak tomatoes. Roll added, in egg. Roll soak
Vitamins---egg, giving egg, tomatoes, added, beans, largest egg,
Soak overnight, in beans, egg, added, nutty soak

---Jackson Mac Low
posted by aparrish at 5:29 PM on June 26, 2009


How to eat a poem by Eve Miriam

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.
posted by evil_esto at 1:40 AM on June 27, 2009

Beans with Garlic
by Charles Bukowski (I know, I know - but I love this one)

this is important enough:
to get your feelings down,
it is better than shaving
or cooking beans with garlic.
it is the little we can do
this small bravery of knowledge
and there is of course
madness and terror too
in knowing
that some part of you
wound up like a clock
can never be wound again
once it stops.

but now
there's a ticking under your shirt
and you whirl the beans with a spoon,
one love dead, one love departed
another love...
ah! as many loves as beans
yes, count them now
sad, sad
your feelings boiling over flame,
get this down

Two by Basho:

Don't ever forget -
in the middle of the thicket,
blossoming plum

Culture's beginnings:
from the heart of the country
rice-planting songs
posted by ryanshepard at 6:50 AM on June 27, 2009

A few days late, here is my favorite:

Cabbage- Richard Tillinghast

You planted cabbages to please me,
I know.
And there the last three or four of them clung
like pock-marked green moons in orbit
across the muddy sky of the garden slope.

We had to get out the hatchet
to chop the woody stem off the one I wanted.
And then I pulled off leaf after leaf,
each rubbery jacket bull's-eyed
like cigarette burns on an unfortunate table,
where slugs had tried to burrow in.

Before I brought it inside for a good scrub
I hacked off
half-a dozen leaves with my pocket knife
and flung them onto the compost heap,
flicking slugs off,
lacking the zeal even to deprive
them of their disgusting lives.
Autumn is here, and where
is the gardener's thoroughness
that would have been mine in March or May?

The essence of cabbage
as I chopped through its crunchy thickness
on the kitchen counter
was what the word October
smells like.
That pure white-and-greenness
that filled my head
with what grows and keeps on growing
was what I had needed all this
short and getting-shorter day.
posted by aint broke at 9:07 PM on June 29, 2009

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