Behold the Bean

March 10, 2013

I awoke this morning to the smell of black beans that had been cooking overnight in the crock pot. If you are reading the blog on Sunday, March 10, 2013, it may not be too late for you to enjoy some bean soup and a classical guitar recital from Thornapple CSA Core Group member Ryan Apple this evening at Diane Thompson’s house. The blog is not a newsletter, or I would have been mentioning this pending event for the last several weeks. Nevertheless, we do CSA beeswax now and then, mainly because I’ve made the determination that exploring the CSA way is a legitimate theme in food ethics. And one way to explore the CSA way is to blog occasionally on the various activities and machinations of the Thornapple CSA.

Maybe this is one of those occasions. Some years back I learned that “occasional poetry” is a poem written to be recited at a particular occasion. We don’t do this much, and by “we” I mean not only you, me and Bob, but virtually all Americans. Sure, there is that performance by the Poet Laureate at Presidential Inauguration ceremonies. That’s how I learned what “occasional poetry” is. But in general we pass on almost every occasion for poesy. Is there anyone out there Tweeting poetry? Surely there is. I heard on the news that there are now 64 million people writing blogs. Somebody out there is posting every time they go the bathroom. In fact, I was so curious about this that I did a Google search to see if I could figure out who that was, but all I came up with was a rapture-oriented blog where someone was sharing, “I remember last year the Holy Spirit really opened my eyes to how lost the Jehovah’s Witnesses are.”

Of course in the Thornapple blog we try to avoid overt discussions of partisan politics. Even Tea Party Republicans enjoy a good bowl of black bean soup now and then. So I’ll just treat the rapture thing as this week’s tangent and get right on back to occasional poetry.

It got me thinking… Say, Ralph Waldo Emerson has nothing on me. After all it was Ralph himself who wrote “to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.” So I decided to write a poem for today’s Thornapple CSA soup and guitar recital event. In fact maybe I should just convert the whole weekly blog over to occasional food poetry! And as my enthusiasm for that swelled, here is the poem I came up with. Or perhaps it is the poem up with which I came. (Got to start parsing poetically now).

When I awoke I sensed the bean
Wafting warmly on the morn.
To wit, thought I, festivity
Waits thither to be born.
Gaiety plein air guitar—
En Francais we harmonize
More boldly—and so I
Brush away the flies
And comb my beard.
A meal to make
And welcome guests,
Our bread to break.

Perhaps I should note that it isn’t actually I my own self as a real and actual being embodied at the spatio-temporal vortex of Lansing, Michigan at the archival date of March 10, 2013 that is cooking this soup. My poem could indeed get me into domestic trouble if people took that particular inference from it. It’s poetic licence, don’t you know (as was that bit about the flies—there are no actual flies in Diane’s bean soup). Come to think of it, maybe this occasional poetry thing isn’t such a good idea.

Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University


5 thoughts on “Behold the Bean

  1. Paul,

    Ah, sooth, methinks…

    As a poet, don’t give up your day job.

    My best of the 100 or so I have composed is this:

    Long Lost Shakespeare Sonnet

    With a lilt in her voice
    And a gleam in her eye,
    She sits here beside me,
    One hand on my thigh.

    – Obscure Source


  2. “All good poets compose their beautiful poems
    not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed…
    for not by art does the poet sing,
    but by power divine.”
    – Plato


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