The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Thursday and Deer in the Woods


The Gospel of Barbecue
By Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

for Alvester James

Long after it was
necessary, Uncle
Vess ate the leavings
off the hog, doused
them with vinegar sauce.
He ate chewy abominations.
Then came high pressure.
Then came the little pills.
Then came the doctor
who stole Vess’s second
sight, the predication
of pig’s blood every
fourth Sunday.
Then came the stillness
of barn earth, no more
trembling at his step.
Then came the end
of the rib, but before
his eyes clouded,
Uncle Vess wrote
down the gospel
of barbecue.

Chapter one:
Somebody got to die
with something at some
time or another.

Chapter two:
Don’t ever trust
white folk to cook
your meat until
it’s done to the bone.

Chapter three:
December is the best
time for hog killing.
The meat won’t
spoil as quick.
Screams and blood
freeze over before
they hit the air.

Chapter four, Verse one:
Great Grandma Mandy
used to say food
you was whipped
for tasted the best.

Chapter four, Verse two:
Old Master knew to lock
the ham bacon chops
away quick or the slaves
would rob him blind.
He knew a padlock
to the smokehouse
was best to prevent
stealing, but even the
sorriest of slaves would
risk a beating for a full
belly. So Christmas time
he give his nasty
leftovers to the well
behaved. The head ears
snout tail fatback
chitlins feet ribs balls.
He thought gratitude
made a good seasoning.

Chapter five:
Unclean means dirty
means filthy means
underwear worn too
long in summertime heat.
Perfectly good food
can’t be no sin.
Maybe the little
bit of meat on ribs
makes for lean eating.
Maybe the pink flesh
is tasteless until you add
onions garlic black
pepper tomatoes
soured apple cider
but survival ain’t never been
no crime against nature
or Maker. See, stay alive
in the meantime, laugh
a little harder. Go on
and gnaw that bone clean.

--------

I spent Wednesday morning doing work so I could have a Zoom lunch with my three friends from high school, which ended up going two hours so we could catch up on everything, which is always awesome. It started snowing not long afterward, so we took a walk on the early side, and it would have been a nice afternoon except then I watched the impeachment trial, which is almost more upsetting than watching on the actual day was because we know so many awful things now that we didn't realize then.

After dinner we watched The Masked Dancer, in which the right animal was eliminated (I think the Cotton Candy is Gabby Douglas but have no idea about the rest of them). Then we watched two episodes of Doom Patrol, which I've enjoyed but only very superficially but the glorious, flamboyant Matt Bomer​ singing​ "People Like Us" with the amazing Alan Mingo, Jr. reminded me of all the joys of DC superhero stories as coming-out stories like Smallville. Deer at Meadowside Nature Center last weekend:

2021-01-30 16.27.48

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2021-01-30 16.27.41

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2021-01-30 16.27.52

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