“Artichokes” and Other Poems, by Paul Jones


Pick up a round of bread and tear it.
All the mountains you see are snowy.
And the valleys too. The glow of it!
As if winter had been waiting there
in its regularity, its need 
to own the earth, to remake landscapes,
a world where nothing that is cut bleeds.
The edges of this world rise like snakes.
Look closely and see their fangs and scales.
They’re dragons at world's edge, always awake.
Some have grown brown wings and sweeping tails.
Bread's ragged edges are periphery;
the crust holds in bread's true mysteries:
the charmed life of yeast and all that entails. 

Yeast's many charms, what does that entail?
Their gasps give bread its rising mystery,
gasses grown in gluten's periphery.
Neither plant nor animal, no heads nor tails.
Water, grain, and a little warmth awake
these beasts without skin, feathers, or scales.
In their house of dough, they writhe like snakes.
They die when bread is baked but never bleed
as their bodies build the unique landscapes,
mountains and caves, you hope for as you knead
wishing winter into the dough. There,
inside the browning crust, yeast grows in fits.
Yeast in half an hour make their snowy
scenes. Thank the yeast. Then raise bread and tear it.

To A Tuber

The appeal of peeling you, Earth Apple,
is ample. For example, your worth, 
your girth, once unearthed is a source
of mirth, of pealing laughter
of the coarse kind. Oh dirty mind!
Oh Unberthed Joy unwind! Hereafter
we name you: Mister. You poor tater.
Our inside joke. We poke at your eyes.
Then, pale Peruvian traveler, 
we revel, as we unravel your suit.
Our peelers unclothe you in pursuit
of your whole reveal, Swollen Root.
Unrushed Irish, although you're slow to grow, 
we don't regret we get to know you through
stew, roux, and ragout. Oh Spud! Oh Ground Fruit!
We love the cry as you fry, fatty thin chip;
you satisfy when paired with pate´ and dip.
Mashed, hashed, browned, knished, Tot-ed, scalloped,
whipped and delivered in white dollops,
flaked, twice baked, riced, diced, steamed,
microwaved, roasted, toasted, caramelized,
in mayonnaise, dauphinoise, or au gratin.
Your good taste races to paste our waists;
at your demand, we expand, unmissed
and unmanned, as wide as Gondwanaland.
When hot, you are passed hand to hand.
When small, you don't matter at all.
When we no longer crouch on our couches,
may we be found like you, Garden Gnome, 
unsoiled and above ground, made right, 
unspoiled by the night’s shade, de-vined, 
no longer hidden or forbidden.
You are risen, Rhizome. All is forgiven.


On long stalks, they make a masculine bouquet,
heavy-headed bunch nodding over my shoulder,
disinterested planets, older versions of quiet
camp fires where men circled the round coals,
where thorny silence was a way to speak.

Once at home, they are stone mothers
covered in green scale of lichen, the weight
carried in the womb, firm seasonal bud.
private and pollenless, that blessing on all
lips come round to confirm the feeling we reach

when we hold the green world in one fist,
one perfect globe unstemmed. Each thick
fleshed rose, each tight petalled breast,
a thing no one can know without the trick
of slow steaming, of softening the spikes.

So we meet in hunger, ripe to taste
the other in this meal as we shred
the leaves free, work toward the delicate
secretive hair, peel it apart,
devour the old cliché, the tender heart.

Artichokes was issued as a broadside by the City Gallery in Raleigh, NC as well as in the chapbook, What the Welsh and Chinese Have In Common.

Paul Jones has published poetry in many journals including Poetry, River Heron Review, Red Fez, Broadkill Review as well as in cookbooks, in travel anthologies, in a collection about passion (What Matters?), in a collection about love (…and love…), and in The Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 – Present (from Scribner). Recently, he was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and two Best of the Web Awards. His chapbook is What the Welsh and Chinese Have in Common.
A manuscript of his poems crashed on the moon’s surface in 2019.
For more see: http://smalljones.com

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