by Lynn Hoffman


winter boots squeaking south
on passyunk near broad
sun-low, gold and cold.

from the second chair, carmello
a ring, a barber’s ‘howaya’
and something about shoveling
the goddamn cold off the car’s bald spot

from twenty-two years ago, carmello
a crank and clank of metal slides
sees the well-reflected light that never dims
or moves across an grundulating sky

from his belly, carmello
the itch where scar knuckles skin
he stands then sits then stands again
because today, he can

from his breath, carmello
a prayer. to the daily news he says
st. quotidiano, pray for me
so little here, so much to lose


--for butterbaker

old cook says he likes the grit
in things and thoughts and wine and songs
he wants, he says, some scratch with his sweet
some poke with his joke and smoke.

beat butter and sugar.  Add egg. vanilla and blend.

butterbaker says she understands and if
she wasted oven space on
what weren’t there, she’d
run off a batch of wish-that-it-scratched

Add flour  to butter mixture.

the soup’s away, the sauce is shiny, chilled
he’d love to stay so he has to go
her back is turned, his apron’s off
her fingers stiff, his face gone soft

Do not over mix the dough.

wait, she says. take these with you
sablés she says, no one makes them anymore
all sandy beach and not much ocean
the butter-cow comes at the very end.

Bake until golden brown around the edges.

young cooks laughing, shouting
counting time, slapping pans and playing games
old cook and butterbaker standing close
still at work and moving home.



you say this hand
that’s formed ten thousand loaves
screams at you at night
with pain it sends you off to sleep
with a curse for how you lived.

i say this hand
has formed a dozen loves
they sing to you at night
they follow you to sleep
with dreams of what you gave.

i take this hand
kneading, needing
to touch the rising, fragrant you
i press through flesh
to bone, you moan

and in the leavening rise
of your chest
i’m not surprised
to smell that pungent,
well-made love.

Lynn Hoffman

LYNN HOFFMAN was born in Brooklyn and lives in Philadelphia. Among his published books are Radiation Days,   a comedy about cancer,  and Short Course in Beer, a very serious but tasty book about ales and lagers.



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