Cutting Nutmeg

CT sigillum
Qui Transtulit Sustinet ! Motto of light!
‘Neath the folds of that banner we strike for the right;
Connecticut’s watchword oer hill and o’er plain,
The Hand that transplanted, that Hand will sustain.
S. S. Weld

There sat CONNECTICUT, a twit
blue nanny-state, and doomed to sit
on welfare-warrens of the damned
her social service on demand.
She withers on NEW ENGLAND‘s vine
a bygone has-been, and a sign
of democratic overkill
where her once-dear and verdant rill
now stagnant flows: polluted stream
a moribund New England dream.
The richest state with poorest heart:
the Northeast’s saddest story. Part
of history’s renowned revival,
now irrelevant. Survival
chains her children in dependence
keeping back the state’s ascendance.
Apostate Puritan, grown old—
for LIBERTY, no longer bold;
a slave to Man, where once God’s WORD
awakened greatness. Souls were stirred
in ENFIELD (of all strange places),
Christ beheld in radiant faces . . .
Edwards held their spellbound souls
like spiders over flaming coals,
in gratitude for Gospel grace
renewing thus both town and race.
But I digress. Connecticut
is what I came to speak about:
forgotten dull colonial matron
yoked in failure, plebe as patron
nostalgic for her Charter Oak
whose deadwood limbs went up in smoke
along with dark tobacco wrap
while the plantation took a nap.
Her social programs overgrowth
pose forest fire-risk. Under oath
her public servants signal virtue;
sign which really should alert you
to the democrat-machine’s
impending failure (ways and means).
Nutmeg-addled Tax-and-spenders,
dollar drunks on welfare benders
widen economic rifts;
force single moms toward double shifts
while Latin Kings hold court in prison
waiting out their royal season:
fiscally unsustainable—
yet totally explainable
(nutmeg is a drug for witches
spendthrift warlocks, bankrupt bitches).
Oh HARTFORD, city of the dead
which dies at five, then home to bed,
insurance once assured your rise;
but now your ghosts haunt sadder skies.
Your life displaced, outsourced, out-dated;
so, it seems, your fall was fated.
Meanwhile, close to New York City,
fairer fields are growing pretty
long on corporate commutes.
Data-driven growth computes
as data-drivers flood the roads
and enter by Manhattan-loads
from golden coasts’ Atlantic shores
and posh patrician golden doors
to bite the apple of our time:
a number-cruncher built on crime.
New England’s puritannic granny
(data-driven tyrant tranny)
seeks to harbor tropic isles
with blandly bureaucratic smiles.
Your poor dear heart cannot afford
to welcome every island lord
who looks to better his estate
and so decides to emigrate.
Displaced Jamaicans outta yard
compel the soft verse to get hard.
Boricua separatists, dispersed
show nationalities reversed
and dwell between two foreign lands
in Spanglish no one understands.
Such nutmeg gets the covens high
to soar the stormy Liberal sky.
It’s Yankee hubris: condescension
taxing plebes for such dissension.
Though you connect, there I would cut,
excising from New England’s gut
metastasizing social tumors:
clueless and obese consumers,
teenage moms, pajama-clad
whose nenes wait in vain for dad.
QUI TRANSTULIT SUSTINET—truth . . .
but that was was in our nation’s youth.
She’s gotten worse with passing years
confirming citizens’ worst fears;
showing her colors every vote
her monotone, a droning note
on which the blue-bloods hang their hue
when hope and change are overdue.
Her atheist zeal meets Yankee pride:
a most progressive broomstick ride;
oblivious to her Christian past,
an enemy of God at last.

 

Senryu and Haikai:
Basho-san, can you get me
another beer, please?

Hasty Pudding

The poem is here.

In spite of the all-male camp theater club at Harvard [my mom once took me to see a Hellenic/Olympian production there called Keep Your Pantheon] that took their name from this  New England dish, Joel Barlow‘s mock epic remains one of my favorite American poems.

Barlow traces the elemental dish back to Peru by way of Europe – but he never knew how beloved  the hasty  pudding [maize-meal porridge] is in Africa. I lived in East Africa for 7 years growing up and I know that Kenya and many other nations survive on this stuff. My son loves it because it is like play-dough – it can be modeled into shapes and then eaten. In Africa it is usually consumed with a stew of some kind but poor people will subsist on it by itself. It can also be made less thick and sweetened for breakfast,  like cream of wheat.

In Kenya it is called Ugali.  In Uganda and other parts of E. Africa they call it Posho [rations]

In Malawi and Zimbabwe it is known as Shima. My South African friend cooked some up for us years ago and called it “Mealie Paps“.

About the poem: you have to be in the right frame of mind to read it.  It is quite  long.

Some will find it hard to stare at a screen for all those stanzas.  I prefer to read it in print, but regardless of in what form you consume The Hasty Pudding, you will be richly rewarded and sated when you finish.  The first canto has the greatest opening and says a lot about how Americans thought of themselves in the days after our independence from Britain:

Ye Alps audacious, through the heavens that rise,
To cramp the day and hide me from the skies;
Ye Gallic flags, that o’er their heights unfurled,
Bear death to kings, and freedom to the world,
I sing not  you.

And with that you are in for a ride…If you like it, go back and read the preface.

I didn’t include it on the poem page since people might never make it through!