Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Poem

Whew! The first poem of the new year is out of the way.

A note about this very new piece. It's a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. Also, the first person to entry your house on January should be male. What can I say--it's a tradition.


Luck

Simmers and spits in a pot on the stove.
January 1 and black-eyed peas seasoned
with hambone, onions, salt, and pepper
calls all souls to the table. My mother
slaves in the kitchen. On this day,
when being black does not reflect
the absence of something,
some traditions taste too good to forget.
Contained in Tupperware,
my father takes some
through his best friend’s doorway—
the first male to enter. Then they’ll return
to our house and grace our door. This is sure to bring
good fortune, cold beer, a lawd have mercy
followed by a laughter that starts
in the soul and works it way out,
a laughter that echos in the heart
from something intangible and starved,
until the only thing left to do is fix yourself a bowl.
Plate me up some of those peas
with grits and collards greens
, says dad.
He leads us in prayer: Thank you for this fortunate meal.
Spoken by the god of new beginnings.

11 comments:

J said...

I've heard of that tradition only in passing, but you really brought it to life and made it immediate. :) Nice. Happy new year.

Kimberley (at Red Moon) said...

Oh how I miss black eyed peas cooked the RIGHT way! I, apparently, am not very good at it.

I particularly like: "a laughter that echos in the heart
from something intangible and starved,
until the only thing left to do is fix yourself a bowl."

Happiest of New Years to you and yours!renrqfzs

Catherine said...

That sounds rather like the Scottish tradition of first-footing. As I recall, the first across the doorstep should be a male, dark-haired and carrying a lump of coal (for a warm home all year) and I think the other thing is a bottle of whisky.
I wish we had more old traditions that we had kept up, I think they are important. Though we have started one or two new ones in our family.

laundrygirl said...

That was great. Your words came to life and even felt like home.

geek-betty said...

we eat ham and beans - for prosperity I've been told. I've never heard of the male being the first to enter.
loved:
"followed by a laughter that starts
in the soul and works it way out,
a laughter that echos in the heart
from something intangible and starved,
until the only thing left to do is fix yourself a bowl."

happy new year!

BB said...

Great poem to start the new year with, January ~ Happy 2008!

January said...

Thanks BB! Happy New Year to you, too!

polkadotwitch said...

a great way to start the new year, for sure. not just the meal and the tradition but writing this poem. i haven't yet been able to sit down and write one. is there such a thing as blank new year phobia instead of blank page ... ?

Crowned with Laurels said...

The words flow well and you tell a great story here. It is clear and precise.I enjoyed this poem and will make an attempt to read the rest of them posted here. I've been writing for a few years now and I'm trying to get it together too. I put a link to your Blog on my blog. Hope you can take a moment to read some of my work.

LL
http://crownedwithlaurels.blogspot.com/

Ananda said...

january, i could see your dad and mom in the kitchen. your words are vivid. man, i gotta get me some black eyed peas. i love how your dad says plate me up....

here is my favorite passage:

a laughter that starts
in the soul and works it way out,
a laughter that echos in the heart
from something intangible and starved,

what a blessing to have laughter come from such a warm loving place.

Lori Witzel said...

Found you through Rethabile Masilo, and love the warmth and heart and toothsome assonances and consonances in this poem.

I still have some leftover black-eyed peas and cabbage in the fridge from our own lucky New Year supper.

:-)

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