Petits Fours Poems

was the “Word of the Day”
waiting for me in my inbox. Before opening
the e-mail to get the definition, I thought
of my family’s restaurant back home: Spoonem’s.
But “spoonerism” has nothing to do with
eggs over easy or corned beef hash, even less
to do with me framed behind that little square
window where sticky plates were passed:
and my mind unconcerned with making clean.

The word didn’t make me think of an inverted
phrase, or a couple of misfired consonants either––
Only could remember that one waitress, the little
windows between the buttons of her tight white shirt,
and those tig ‘ol bitties.

If you blindfolded a dozen bankers’ kids
and had them listen to that sound of ting
ting tap tapping I heard this morning
on my way to work—they may say
it’s sword fighting, or call it hammer on anvil,
or a tinny dinner bell (which is closer
I’d tell them, getting warmer I’d say), and if you
blindfolded me and played the song
of the calculator, I might hear editing a poem,
and I’d probably be wrong too, like the bankers’ kids,
but the sound of that tap tapping that plumed
from the open door of some hit-or-miss diner
today was familiar, (familiar as cranking gears
to a machinist’s son)—and in it I heard my father
scripting his morning Morse code, turning over
pancakes, catalyzing scrambled eggs with the tap
of his metal spatula on that hot metal grill.

Waiting for Poems
The Gouda took four months to ready itself
for the mouth. the Angus was hung upside down
for 27 days. Château Duhart Milon Rothschild
sealed the lips of a fragrant Bordeaux in 1934
that blooms even better tomorrow, than today.
Let the sauce sit atop a flame’s whisper
for six hours or so, and it will be revelatory.
A bag of popcorn only took 60 seconds to be perfect
clouds! But metaphorically, popcorn is low art.
Pork chops—low art. Boiled eggs are low
and underappreciated. My first book (five years),
still low art—and when I tip my pen in the direction
of my father, I realize I haven’t waited long enough
to get it right. Haven’t the craft yet to craft him scrupulous,
in his long white apron, behind a pot of simmering
tomatoes, waiting.

Poet Michael Cirelli’s collection Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Hanging Loose Press, 2008) was a New York Times Book Review poetry best seller for independent presses. His forthcoming collection, Vacations on the Black Star Line, is due out this fall, (Hanging Loose). He has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, was featured on Season 5 of Russell Simmons Def Poetry, and is executive director of Urban Word NYC, an award-winning youth literary arts organization. He lives in Park Slope.