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Poems on Food (after Charles Simic)

Poems collected from participants in Dave Johnson’s 10*10*10 Video Workshops!

Episode 1: Charles Simic and Cherries

Maroon cardinals
on a high-wire
they untie the tongue
and we fly away sweet.

—Dave Johnson

Mahogany sea
on the horizon
your tide rises
and we float in your embrace

-Caleb Guedes-Reed

Thank you so much for doing this; I’m having so much fun!
After Charles Simic’s poem, “Watermelons”

 Chocolate Oat Milk
amber river horse
in a palm sized orb
swarms beyond the titled edge
we disperse into the silk

-Camden Zyler

Artichoke (now)
Pearled green lotus
in a bowl
sharp petals guard
your treasure heart

Artichoke (later)
Gray-green quail
on a board
I’ll trim feathers, poach
the unguarded heart

-Joan Blessing

Hey Dave!
Thanks for doing this series. A friend of mine shared and I’m going through the youtube videos starting today.

Yellow stomachs
On sturdy legs
They degrade cheek defenses
And flush out our base.

-John Clifton
MD Candidate, Class of 2023
University of Maryland School of Medicine

Hello Dave, Lee, Jane & Reggie!
All Peace. All Poetry
With Love & Appreciation.
Looking forward,

after Charles Simic, for Jacqueline Woodson

Yellow flowers
in the formerly vacant lot.
We drink life,
spit out shame.

-Kate Rushin
March 2020

Hello Dave,
Great to reconnect in this way.
Thank you for 10*10*10*
Give my best to all at Poets House.

Looking forward,

Frying an Egg

I worry about the liquid sun
threatening to leak
all over the pan

-Will Nixon

Black magic beans
from far away lands
percolated potion
poured in my cup

-Maureen Bailey


Green cabinet painted like no one would ever want to open its doors.
You’re one, you’re the only one who does to see what the waiting apocalypse has to offer.
Cans and cans and cans and more cans of nothing you’d ever want to eat even in an apocalypse.
But you do anyway because there’s nothing else…nothing but watered down milk you can see through, see right through even in the dark.

-Garth Ferrante

(from Charles Simic’s “Watermelon”)

Tomato imposter
On an egg crate shelf,
They are a fruit puzzle
Only a designer palate dares decipher.

-Deborah Eve Grayson

My darling

You bring the world with you
specific as the angle of a slope
sharing secrets and harkening to far-off times,
extrapolating my moment of happiness
endlessly fascinating, dear dear wine.

-Devin Dougherty

unripe orchid pod
in a pair with chocolate
to sip, to inhale

-Deborah Purdy

Galaxied rubies
Set in a Japanese bowl.
Polish them to jeweled fruition
And bite into the infinite.
-Chris Shearer

in the vineyard.
They strangle the shoots
And lure with flyeyes.

Dear Dave,
I am getting addicted to 10*10*10*
Above my contribution to food.

After Simic
Olive-colored eyeballs
stuffed in a glass jar.
We mirror their bloodshot irises
and blindly down another martini.

-Scott Wiggerman
Albuquerque, NM
On to the second poem! Thanks to Poets House and Dave Johnson for this series!

Red-green goddess tears
piled sun bright onto gold platters.
We squeeze their bellies
and devour liquid joy.

-Monica Shah

Favorite food in the air
We are humans traveling
The food is flying
Together our creating
Ride and sharing
the outcome that life obtaing
The test you loving

-Olivier, Cannes, France ??
Envoyé de mon iPhone

Bandeja Paisa
The plate the palette,
the ingredients the colors,
the canvas our table,
Our gathering the art.

Bandeja Paisa
El plato la paleta,
los ingredientes los colores,
el lienzo nuestra mesa,
el arte nuestro encuentro.

Bandeja Paisa
Il piatto la tavolozza,
gli ingredienti i colori,
la tela il nostro tavolo,
L’arte il nostro incontro.

Hello Poet House!
I found on youtube this series of videos, and how glad I am to have discovered this content!
Just to give you some context about the poems I am attaching, I am from Colombia, and I’m currently living in Milan Italy. Specifically about the 3rd poem, my father visits me every 6 months, he loves coming to Europe.
Thank you for the inspiration. Please keep on creating this kind of material!
Yours truly
-Luis Estrada

small hearts of a kingdom
each with an indigo crown
skin flesh sweet tart
wash down with bitter dirt.

-Emily Fisher

Yellow Moons
on a teacup
we kiss the bitter
and dream of the sweet .

-Yasmine Lancaster

I pour a glass
bastard of the wineries
That domain where no one cares
a land of beauty and taste
I close my eyes and sip the fruits of the rose’
Transports me to you

-Nancy Pantirer

(Modeled after Charles Simic’s “Watermelons”)
It’s such a fun word to say,
Like hullabaloo or bamboozled.
He’s the bitter, naughty cousin
Of the leafy green family.
My conscience invites him into my fridge,
Then I toss his butt out in a week.

Note: This school appropriate last line is slightly altered from the original.

I’m enjoying this– sent the link to my students. Kudos!
-John D. “JD” Tomidy

Hi, My daughters and I have been completing your daily ten minute poetry challenges, and they have brought so much joy during our time of isolation. (My first-grader was actually supposed to visit Poets House on a field trip this month–which was obviously cancelled–and this activity has really helped her feel like she didn’t miss out.)
This is such a generous thing to offer the community. Here are three of our favorites. Thank you for your kindness!

Salty circle
on a soft bed of pasta
When you crunch
feels good

-Leonora Burian-Schneider

Ice Cream
Arctic slope
in my cup
a flash of cool in my mouth
joyful, quick, gone

-Natalka Burian

red hearts
on the countertop
i cannot bring myself
to slice open for you<

-Jennifer Garfield

bombs from the bowl on my bedside:
their juice, bloody tart, as their
rumored with arsenic worry my smile’s gap
the almost-thought of a bitter little bite
I spit it right out. No tree. In my belly. Not tonite.

Tava Roti
disk from my hands kneaded
flat so cold so round
like a sun soaked butter
warm life full in my mouth.

LOVE makes good things grow; and bad things grow better. SO: grow the LOVE.

For Dave Johnson
Elegant, long- necked egret
Deep hued purple a gleam
Poised in solitude
Awaiting the bake pan.

-Gerald Harris



   bath for woe


   veils viral view


   tangos shrimp to sprout


   tangle thought






Thank you, Poets House and Dave Johnson. Here’s a stab at a 10-minute poem inspired by Episode 1, Charles Simic:

Blood Orange
A red dwarf glows,
Emitting a pungent signal
From the fruit basket.
As I strip its rugged surface,
Cool membranes release jets of stored light


Hi! This is my day 1 poem:

snakes in a tub
of birch
they set it on fire
in delicious dignity


The Eggplant
Its succulence guarded
by a firm, yet sometimes surrendering skin. Be gentle yet cautious, those that enter. For violet delights have violet ends.

-Larry Pantirer

From pale cream to burnt umber
The rye raises its grains
And the wheat is grazed with flour.
Towards the bakery a toast is made for conquest,
As the dough gives off its yeast.

-Nazib C.

Carmine tomatoes

Carmine tomatoes,          blushing,

warm skins shine bright

even as they absorb the rays on the vine.

Inside                    seeds in their embryonic soup

wait for that thick skin to burst

so they can flow to the ground

and start anew.

-Lenore Rosenberg

Apple Jacks
Speckled Christmas lights
In a bicycle basket
We harvest the gravel from our gums
And kiss snow-capped lips.

-Elena Barro

Making Caramel
Chem lab in the kitchen—
keep stirring the old pot.
Sniff the paradise honey.
It burns devil hot.
–Marion Brown

A yellow chickpea sun
wrapped into a knapsack
carrying world map of curry,
goat & potatoes that arrive in my mouth

-Sherese Francis

Red pin cushions jammed together tight.
Once released , we capture again savoring their sweet, red meat.

Shriveled old faces hanging out to dry.
We eat their flesh and dispose of their hearts.

-Ellen Goldstein

Black nightshade
on the counter
Your skin reflects the morning sun
and cloaks the delicate flesh.

-Maria Brandis


Brown mummies
on a white cutting board
a sarcophagus opened
sweet on my pink tongue
the dark seeds I bury.

-Mike Cunningham

Brown prickly football
shelters juicy golden
surprise that slides
sweetly down my throat.

–Christy Wise

viridian lace
summer garden adornment
in salad or pesto
peppery spice outburst

–Margaret Emerson (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)

Its juice
My chin. I am shameless.

–Ellen Pober Rittberg

Plump-flesh little bugs
on my tongue
sweet as my grandma
I suck them soft
then chew them slow.


Beneath bitter adherent pith
That stains the fingers
& deposits spongy fragments under nails
10,000 balloons exploding with tart juicy splendor

I am a physician for homeless patients in Seattle and am overwhelmed with the COVID situation. I appreciate this distracting and nourishing outlet.
Thank you!

Hi there! I’m not a poet, but I tried your exercise and loved it! Here is my draft:

Baked Brie
Milk-white and porcelain-shiny
cheeks surrounding a grandmother’s smile.
Almost liquid, sweetening
a buttery smell of holidays past.

-Amanda Niehaus-Hard
Thank you for doing this!!

Shrimp Tempura
Goldenrod was that carbon copy you tore out, not always the copy you

Shrimp sinks on a raft of noodles, each crumb sponging itself under

Potato, zucchini, carrot, shiso leaf, not what we keep but savor and

The tail is what’s left, get the check, sign receipts, struck matchsticks that candle you

-Austin S. Lin

tiny shiny
water saunterers.
nobody likes them,
but they make my pizza
perfect with spinach.

thank you! 🙂
—Jade Fassbinder

Here is my poem inspired by today’s video on Chales Simic’s Watermelons.

Round or oval
either small or big
red or yellow
or anything in between
Big drops of golden honey
hanging down the tree
with the fragrance of warm Fall
next to my cup of tea.

(It needs a lot of work, but it was fun trying).
Take good care and be well.
—María Paz

Here’s my poem:

buoyant yellow butter clouds
drop down low
making musk on my skin
while I push the puffs
to the back of my humid mouth


Oval worlds
On the grass,
We make love
And cook omlets.

—Kathryn Fazio

The pits. I spit
from the flesh
surrounding sweetness and
call them other.

The blueberry ones
from Paradis
on 4th Ave. and 12th St.
delivered fresh
from where I’m forbidden to go.

-Myra Shapiro

Yellow raindrops falling down
Sweet smells of citrus around town
Pucker up and kiss the rain
Or let it fall in your tea to keep you sane

A—absolutely delicious
C—crunchy if you like them Tex-Mex
O—or they can be
S—soft if you like them real

Yellow crescent moons
Up in the sky
They make the night bright
And comfort us

-Kristy Roper

Ode to Fermentation
Apple belly, apple jelly
Ripe and red and round.

They’re really good mashed to help you get smashed when all of your liquor runs dry.

-Noreen Sanders

Roasted beans
roast down to dust or powder.
Dipped in water with a little bit of cream and sugar
Drunk by 10 am
Oh lord
Here come the head rush

-Tahara Lilly

Thank you for reading and for doing this!

Kalamata Olive
deep purple sea sound
swirls with olive tree leaf

hand-picked when ripe
almond-shaped eye

bruising averted

slit and salt water
shiny briny melody


Tricky Goddess,
spiky green outlaw,
Your stench murders desire —
While your custard cream
intoxicates us
to taste again.

Gilded otter,
My lick stops your slippery slide.
Sweet one,
Stay a little longer —
Why is your stone so big?

-Elisa de la Roche

I’m a high school student from New York City. I enjoyed today’s video from Dave Johnson.
Here’s the poem I wrote:

Crimson buttons
In a crystal cup.
Fasten them to my lips
But down they drip

Looking forward to future videos!
-Lily Seltz

so sweetly sleeping
in the shallow bowl,
reminding us not to
take this so seriously.

-Mike Howie

Hi, Dave!
Here is the poem I wrote with this morning’s prompt:

Roasted Broccoli
A forest of felled trees
chars in the fire—twenty minutes
at four-hundred degrees.
O happy mouth!

-Robert Grant

Indigo orbs
with eyes on the lake
We sample one by one
until we can see

—Deborah Purdy

Hello! I really enjoyed the lesson today. Thank you so much! Here is the poem I wrote.

after Charles Simic
Sage Caterpillars
Swimming at the ranch.
Fuzzy sweaters for hot weather
Every bite piñata guts.

Thanks again,
—Julia Mcconnell

I’ve been having an affair
with butter
since getting pregnant.
It felt so right.


Dear Potato Knish
I haven’t tasted you in years
doughy and slightly burnt
in grandma’s oven
in the South Bronx
transporting me to a Lithuanian shtetl
alive before I was born


Thank you Poets House for hosting this fun activity. Here is my poem.

Purple grenades
Suspended from a branch.
We pluck your full body
And taste your red bursts.

—Wing Yan Sang

French Fries Soused in Vinegar
doused in mayonnaise
nestled in newspaper where
spuds and acid and grease
seep into
yesterday’s bad news.

—Áine Greaney, Irish writer

Chicken & Waffles
the plump brown thighs of barnyard fowls
floating in bubbling pools of golden grease
like doughnuts, are longing to be paired
with beligan waffles and spicy mumbo sauce

—D. alan ward

voluptuous beige balls
with pimpled skin, rough to the touch
hold firm, sweet orange meat, inside
that create rivers of juices to flow down my cheeks

—EJ ward

My regular, with caramelized onion
and jalepeno. Sometimes, too,
a Whoopie Pie.
Ways to be cheerful as
An Indian in a seafood town.

Cheers for doing this!
—Indira Ganesan

Green Russian Dolls
Open first thin crust
Releasing creamy softness
Dig down to round brow orb
Containing an unborn doll

—Vivian Tedford

Golden sea of swaying stalks
Origin unknown
So. . .so. . .sown wild,
Breakfast of pacifists.

—Jean Lamberty

Dear Dave,
Thanks for the fun workshop. I am attaching my poem.

Fragrant globes
On a kitchen counter
We devour sunlight
Puckering, then hold on to sweetness

—Karen Schochet

Omar Ovalle

—Omar Ovalle

Scarlett rabbits
Piled in their nest.
We feast upon the flesh
And leave the tails behind.

All Best,
—Kori Cooper(柯佳丽)

Hi! Oh, that was fun. Dave Johnson is a wonder. I’m so grateful for this opportunity—and my students are doing it too.

Citrine rings of sun
steep in hot water,
this blue and white china cup
a gift from a friend. Distant.
We are all distanced.
No one is immune.

Thanks and all best,
—Moira Egan

Purple – black nuns
Bent in an o to pray
We ate their round bodies
and threw away their veils.

—T. Rolle

Ivory tiles split open
Reveals a yellow chair.
Lounges in the heat
Until obscured again by softer walls.

Thank you so much for this lovely activity. It really helped to break up the monotony of my morning.
—Court M Harvey

Yellow monkeys
on a branch
peeling their backs
and swinging with crescent curves.

—Dylan Welch

Coppery mud
In a small white glass
the richness sours
if you don’t sip fast

—Emily Villani

I ❤️ The video you put out….

Banana (2020)
Banana are you ripe?
Your shape is like a smile, right?
You are green on the tree
Yellow is the color when we eat!

Thank you for doing this series. It’s a fun way to pass the long hours.
—Eva Weitzel

Dandelion comets
in the Mother Bowl.
We pass through pillows
until stones grind us back

—Joanna Oltman Smith

Hey Poets House,This is a cool thing you’re doing!
Even with the world ending & with me & people I love laid off,
I’m excited by the emergence of a new online poetry.
Here’s what I wrote for this first prompt:

Eggs (after Charles Simic)
Rich white heads
In the boardroom.
We crack them open.
We drink liquid gold
To live.


Custard Apples
Sitting green in a bamboo basket
Their lumps brown and burst.
Their bulbous beauty,
a mousse’s sweet mouth minute.

Thank you!!
—Kathryn Stam, Ph.D.

Black-blue buddies
bunched like best friends
They explode the cereal bowl
with their generosity

—Linda Hillman Chayes

Olive bumpy football
Touched down beneath wide evergreen
Burst wide open
Golden nugget popped out
And guacamole filled our tortilla scoops.


Thank you for doing these workshops! This is the result of today’s 10-10-10:

A pyramid of flavor
In a cardboard home.
And with every bite,
A memory melts in our mouth.

—Melody Cheikhali

Yellow phone in my kitchen
when I’m hungry
Mommy peels the flippers
I drink it in a smoothie
but then its invisible.

Green grass, a park inside
a bowl, like the park outside.
Horses Love grass
and Mommy Loves salad
and chicken and Jacqui.

—Jacqui Andre Fabri-Baksh
(Age 3.5+)

Purple-black baubles
float in the yard.
We open wide
and pick the prize.

—Kimberly Rivers

Terracotta planets
Heavy on the vine
We enter your orbit
And bless you with salt

—Meara Levezow

Thanks so much for the 10 10 10 project! I loved this morning’s prompt.
Here’s my food poem, inspired by Charles Simic’s “Watermelon,” and Dave’s poem about cherries.

Cold Pizza
gray triangular pennant
of college days
decorating my chipped plate
day-after comfort
hugs all the way down

—Sarah Dohrmann

Blueblack planets
In a milky sky
We puncture the skin
And swallow stars

Thank you for this heartfelt program during these strong days.

dirt treasure
creamy underfoot—
can’t take
the Europe out
of our famine

thanks for this!

Hi everyone at the Poets House,
I just wanted to share this poem I wrote from the 10*10*10 virtual poetry series!
Thanks for reading.

Dark and deep in that desolate hour;
I rise early to partake of the sweetness –
Colors melting, cacao molding my tongue
Into something that can speak no lies.

Stay safe!
—Caitlin Cacciatore