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Go to your kitchen pantry, garden, refrigerator, or spice rack. Pick an herb, spice, fruit, or vegetable. Take it to your writing space. Smell it, feel it, observe it, taste it. Does it come in multiple forms: powdered, sliced, dried, pickled? What sensations does it arouse? What memories does it bring?

Now, write for thirty minutes or more, don’t stop –Don’t think, just write. Reread what you’ve written. Find the connections, the heat, the moments where language lifts, where it sings, and sculpt this into a poem.

If you like, post your results as a comment; we would love to see what people come up with.

Here is a Poem by Aimee Nezhukumatathil from her book Miracle Fruit (Tupelo Press, 2003) to inspire you.

Spices

coloring

If your man doesn’t know cumin

from cardamom, it’s time to let him go.

but if he discovers a wetted paintbrush dipped

into turmeric makes a soft yellow line

on your back, spells something like You

are my sun—then keep him and hold on tight.

I like a cupboard packed with jam jars rubbed clean,

full of the sand from fantasy beaches of me

and my man and a paintbrush I conjured up

just last night—a cupboard where the difference in reds

means danger or victory for my pot of stew.

 

fragrance

And what about cloves pierced

into a fat orange, strung up with ribbon

at Christmas? What came up with that,

and what kind of twisted need did they have

for the occasional prick of spikes under

nails? One, we were leaving

Bombay Palace, my father spooned

caraway and licorice bits into my palm

from the jade bowl on the counter and said,

“This will clean your breath.” The owner

twitched his moustache, and nodded.

 

heat

Pepper is the obvious choice, in its powder form,

I mean—but there’s something about the crash

of peppercorns into a salad, over pasta, the twist

and flex of wrist that sends men back for more.

But if you really want to impress, try chili flaked fresh

under a rolling pin and wax paper. Make sure he sees

you doing this labor of love—act as if you do this

at every meal, that is how it would be every day

if he desired. And after dinner, float some

in his tea, slip some into his slice of cake.

Be careful for the warmth of his mouth.

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