The terror of the average still life lies in its sugary shining. Those yokel apples,
as obvious as labor. The pears
that stretch the dawn until its warp
rips to reveal the golden’s yellowed shame.
The crush of those blood oranges? The scramble
of those schmaltzy melons? Louder than aloud.

The better recommendation marks such a composition’s appeal present (if not
admired) beneath the half-hearted crop of its basket.
Cantilevered by a perspective whose refractions
figure the historical shift toward narcissism,
eating’s details pass as far into forgetfulness
as the proper occasion for a slather of myrrh.

So long as we’re scoring our bitterness, let’s abandon
the foreground to render with a different ravenousness. Where
are the parsnips and the spinach, the lentil flower and celery’s
ribbed specter? Where is the fettle of bread, that loamy shadow
cast by civilization’s most obscure organ: its origins?
Where is the muted gorge of an open seat at this private table?

To gush nothing of the roots, that hairy flood of heralding
that riddles the field, or the brook meandering so far it bends
into a pentimento as vague as rain. To trace
these sustaining erasures is to tap escape, which is to mouth
the croak that chords another plane. But harvest’s heavy scale
scrapes up even freedom’s pound of flesh. To emerge into mere inheritance

is to confine savor to its source. The honor of appraisal
lies in the fruitlessness of its use. That a knife can layer as handily
as carve should mystify no one, a dabbler least of all. Wisdom has it
that the footprint the earth impresses in each sip of wine never
vanishes. But the real master stroke is to taste what galaxies still
braid away within the raisin’s wizening. In ordinary composure, you’re bound to.


Joe Milazzo is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie and two collections of poetry: The Habiliments and Of All Places In This Place Of All Places. He is also an Associate Editor for Southwest Review, a Contributing Editor at Entropy, and the proprietor of Imipolex Press.