You are in the diode archives v6n2




Tastes good when you are willing to put some muscle
into making it, willing to stand for a sweaty
eternity in the indestructible black box Doc Martens
restaurant chefs wear slicing green onions
and celery root until their hands bleed clean through
thick oak. Eventually you learn how much force
and saffron, precision and mire poix are needed
to make soup for the masses sing. Sometimes
it’s easier to feed others than face what’s eating you.
We’re hungry, we’re so hungry the modern radio rocker
confessed as I cruised here this morning
to confront my double Americano
and the empty plate of a blank notebook. Writing,
which is like eating and vomiting at the same time
in a regal sort of way. Ask Louis XIV who loved to eat
and died with a stomach stretched galaxies wider
than what the organs orbiting it required. Just ask
the World Health Organization how if not for hoarders
there’s plenty for everyone. Louis and his love affair
with strawberries. And Versailles! The endless fields he planted
so organic farmers of the future could dream
like Lilliputians, like tiny seed people slung
in the yellow hammocks of blooming asparagus. The agony
of Antoinette who mistook The People for layers
of Chantilly cream-plumped pastry she could chow down
and not choke. Food. Let them eat it. Let them make it
themselves! And decades of meat-grinding revolutions
later, that’s exactly what they did, everyone in Paris
armed with their own Escoffier bible, everyone a king
in a paper toque, plotting gratin take-overs,
kick-ass Hollandaise and wicked veloutes, sitting
at table with Toulouse Lautrec who loved dining
and cafes and spiking his guests’ water pitchers with gold fish
so his palette could not be diluted. Gertrude Stein
and Alice B. feeding friends magic brownies
as establishment walls toppled, everything tasting
peculiar, surreal, slanted, strange, the new order seen
from delirious speed and heights and yet in spite of Stein,
Picasso, Dali, the eventual Model T, Cuisinarts,
God Particles and so-called Democracy,
we’re still recipes short of sating hoards
of unfed souls, miles of empty bellies extended
and growling if we could just get the grain lockers there,
turn constellations of want, of gaping oral anti-matter
into starry satisfaction. Mick Jagger knew
and pretty much everyone walking around knows
that sometimes you just can’t get none
apart from maybe a few wise ones in sandals
and saffron robes tramping the globe, hippies
in hills off the Oregon Coast where creeks merge
into castle turrets of towering Redwoods,
where people feed on silence and are nourished
by the moon’s simple choreography across a July night sky,
veils of luminous cumulus like gods signaling from far off
to me, to you, and though it may make no difference,
to the girl stuck somewhere in a far-off field, her chapped feet
chained to brittle roots of no rain, to the earth’s barren
belly, girl with bones thin as smoke, the moon
but a harsh white spotlight as her hand passes over
her mouth like a shadow, a sigh, a yawn,
an exit sign of exhaustion, of no satisfaction,
of trying not to think maybe this is where the road ends.


Then I Let You Go

With my wood and silver crosses
swinging from the rearview
with my lavender crystals
smoking in emerald crucibles
my heart, a paper scroll
a burning bird
a cindered testament
curling to ash
a form of nowhere
You see
I’ve rallied my armies
and still the red ants stream
rippling forests drained
all manner of means
I change tacks
cross hellish waters
sometimes for centuries
and sailing back
recall dry land
a darkened theater
sitting next to you once
There were children
in rows around us
my elbow at rest
close to touching yours—how
can I keep this to myself?
Light from a screen
the cartoon characters
such delirious armies
studding my attention
hair on my arm
ants in my hips
picking up
your honeyed scent
making their unseen exodus
I think it was Madagascar
and all my slave girls
woke at once
up from their pillowed lofts
their pagan eyes
and hot palms
wiping away ancient droves
bare toes shimmied close
to an edge
I could just make out
my deck sinking
as I counted down
to jump ship. Oh
say the word
and I’ll swim home
walk this blue-quilted sea
I’m sewn into
me and the strange ones
our patchwork language
love spelled out
in buried channels
sunken stories
broken stones
too Greek
too wild for me
to ever know how to name  


Michelle Bitting grew up near the Pacific Ocean and has work published or forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Narrative, Rattle, Nimrod, River Styx, Crab Orchard Review, diode, Linebreak, the L.A. Weekly, and others. Poems have appeared on Poetry Daily and as the Weekly Feature on Verse Daily. Thomas Lux chose her full-length manuscript, Good Friday Kiss, as the winner of the DeNovo First Book Award and C & R Press published it in 2008. Her book Notes to the Beloved, won the 2011 Sacramento Poetry Center Award and was published in 2012. Michelle has taught poetry in the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, at Twin Towers prison with a grant from Poets & Writers Magazine, and is proud to be an active California Poet in the Schools. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University, Oregon, and recently commenced work on a PhD in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, actor Phil Abrams, and their two children. Visit her at www.michellebitting.com.