Penn Kemp’s Five Poems For Food… and National Poetry Month!

In April, I’m delighted to celebrate National Poetry Month through the League of Canadian Poets.

National Poetry Month‘s topic this year is, very appropriately, FOOD!

 Five Poems For Food… and National Poetry Month!

Fare Trade

I would eat local food only were it not for temptation.
A green invitation of open avocado in emerald halves.
An alluring variety of mango hot to eye, cool to tongue.

The seduction of dark chocolate.
The slurped fulfilment in oyster.
The simple necessity of rice.

Otherwise, I would be content with my yard’s fall produce.
But having tasted the world’s fare, how to return unjaded
to simple pleasures that this ground offers?  Beans.

Corn.  Squash.  Corn.  Beans.  The three sisters thrive.

Yes, I will eat local food mostly.  Except for.   Except for…

When The Bare Naked Ladies sing “Snack Time”, not one of the stars
they record choose celery sticks. No-one claims carrots for their own.

O banana.  O chocolate.  Chicory can never compare to café au lait.

On to political rant: our food too cheap, our farmers ruined.

Our eyes closed, we rest easy, spoiled ripe fruit in the docks,
turning sleepy to sun-rotten.  Given so much, we reach for more

even when over full.  And poems break off as the lunch bell rings.

Penn Kemp
Luminous Entrance: a sound opera for climate change action, program

Penneats2007-11-01Ula at tableJPGPhoto: Gavin Stairs


I eat nut chocolate instead of carrots. I drink
caffeine straight from the bean. I don’t care
if my senses rot, cavities root in my mouth,
gnaw at my brain. I nod a refrain to be
wicked, to be wild at the expense of ordinary

sanity. The expanse of external wisdom
mounts as paper wrappers, candy wrappers,
oh sweet sweet the caress of chocolate.

While I don’t care if the sun turns
my uncoloured skin ultra-violet, the long
and the short of it is the spectrum
unannounced of the daily. In living we
are realized, we are being flushed out

of hiding our response by this reddening
cheek, the drenching of the brow in sudden
cartoon frenzies of sweat, the character is
worried. She is fretting. She is sunk.

Penn Kemp


In Light

Let the light in, please.  Open
the blinds to see that shadow
lies where light does not fall.

Where there is no shadow,
there can be no fear.  Where
there is no fear, all is light.

Let light penetrate all
our permeable membrane
of skin.  Let it illuminate

dark corridors of blood
and vein.  Let light fill
our whole body till cells

dance like dust motes.
Let the sun beam light
through our pores till

we glow luminous and
radiant, incandescent,
as the day’s eye.

Let us eat light like
plants.  Let us chew
the bright air till we can

swallow light like
fire-eaters.  Let us
assimilate light till

we are light, just that
bearable lightness
of being

Penn Kemp
from Dream Sequins, Lyricalmyrical Press

Judy Rebick and Penn 2014Judy Rebick & I at table

Bass On The Grass

We have been fluid mercury
in a mess of water weed
swimming cross-current.

We know to elude the net,
a web’s small intricacy.

The line we avoid
until a play
of sun on water constellates as
damsel fly…

Wary, we approach and bite
the trick of flattery.  Bright
searing metal is our last whim.

We are lifted high, swimming
astonished into air.      Caught
by diviners.   Frantic, we fall through

streams of light, swirling blind and
gasping.     The line holds.

What will sustain us after eons
of pooled silence?  What service awaits?

We scry so little, under water or on this
unnatural resting place where up and down
dissolves.  Long lines no longer connect us.

Weeds around us flower and are still.

Penn Kemp
from The Lunar Plexus, cd. Pendas Productions
An earlier version appeared in Binding Twine, Ragweed Press

After Image

Tender, the moment when a lion
licks its caught prey in the face
cupped between soft paws.

Long tongue on zebra hide.
A kind of indolent yawn
after the swirl of dust, the flailing hoof.

This moment looks like love
to the safe observer bedded down

as the film rolls.  The zebra seems
steeped in peace, adrenaline

overload just before its eyes
glaze over.  Give over.  For ever

as if time could hold.  If it could last

before the first bite.  The blood.
letting.  Go.  The lion on cue lolls,
renders fierce intent

to savour first juice.

Penn Kemp
from The Lunar Plexus, cd. Pendas Productions

Jakekitchen20071127 003  274809_527005251_4480870_qPhoto of Jake and me: Gavin Stairs

Ode to Tim Two Bitswhopper

Ah, Tim, how far you have fallen from
fine hockey star on quicksilver skates
to purveyor of sludge and sugar and
starch even without any golden arch.

O Tim, if you’d lived you’d be fat by now,
rich on food faster than you ever flew.
You discovered the secret— free enterprise.

Hire cheery faces at minimum wage.
Make ’em watch eight hours’ video
extolling Horton history. A myth in
the making, all in marketing learned

so well from Amurican owners, those
grown-up Wendy’s to your Peter Pan.
And we know how that worked out for

you. Now you’re willing to marry again,
moving up the ranks to rank Burger King:
“The triumph of hope over experience.”

For you can never age nor decay, Tim.
You’ll franchise and fry, immortal in lard
pans or steaming as old-fashioned soma.

Place yourself on every main drag or mall
so tourists can ride from rest stop to rest
expecting their fare everywhere exactly

the same. Why travel for variety when comfort
is here? Drive through. Drive on to the next town.
Familiarity never flags when we’re in a rush.

Forget the fuss of old fogies who lament passing
home cookin’ for simulacra substitution. They’ll
die off with the trees as you lay waste your cups.

Strew your containers and spread your name far!
Overflowing fame translates into dollars, a paean
to plastic and paper debris. Ex-pan, expand and

never explain. Throw out your day-olds, don’t let
customers buy them cheap, sans tax. You have a
Canadian reputation to keep fresh. O Tim, Do-nut

Deity, your name lives in bits, in bites on Saturday
nights, 24/7. We’d bow to you if we could still bend.
Fast fueled, we promo you, we expand with you, O

Sweet Special! O Rush! Think doughnut-emburger’d.
And you’re already for all night bagel breakfast!
Penn Kemp

1509801_858856720840225_2235562567279061875_nPhoto: Stan Burfield

On April Fool’s Day, I was delighted to celebrate National Poetry Month through the League of Canadian Poets at London Open Mic Poetry Series. Introduced by Joan Clayton.

WHERE: The Mykonos Restaurant at 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario.

THE FEATURED POET:S John Nyman, followed by Penn Kemp, opened the poetry reading at 7:00, followed by a Q&A.



5 thoughts on “Penn Kemp’s Five Poems For Food… and National Poetry Month!

  1. Bob Hogg says:

    Hi Penn! Thanks for sharing these poems with me. I especially like the beat tone of the ode to Tim Horton/s. Overall, you hit the organic nail on the head when you conjure up our universally insatiable desire for unhealthy foods and I like your trope of being willing to take the consequences of fulfilling your pleasures. However Eco-correct we poets become, we’d better not forget we’re all hedonists at heart! As post-Romantics, that’s our tradition. And thanks for joining my blog. Most days I’m still too busy to attend to it, but I’ll get there.. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anandita says:

    Next to trees, Food must be your most fav our it e poetry. But then the fruit of trees is pure Ecstacy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] Penn Kemp’s Five Poems For Food… and National Poetry Month!. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Penn Kemp says:

    Reblogged this on pennkemp.


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