Oct 112010

CockatooheadshotHere is a poem by the prolific and amazingly energetic (I tried to count the number of jobs and teaching gigs she has but didn’t have enough fingers) Nickole Brown. Nickole is a Vermont College of Fine Arts graduate in fiction (I have been reminded that, in fact, she was in a workshop with me, yea, these many years ago). As a student and a graduate assistant, Nickole was a graceful, kindly presence on campus. I do recall her brightening my day now and then in the lunch line at Dewey. She worked for Sarabande Books for ten years. She’s made her way in publishing, teaching and as a woman-of-letters. She is determined, focused and persistent, qualities I admire. And it’s a great pleasure, after all these years, to still be in touch and to publish her here.


A Diet Plan That Works

By Nickole Brown


“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
—Virginia Woolf

Do not buy like the nouveau riche: tin of black
caviar, sad plate of parrot fish,
marbled pink slab of exotic
meat served with expensive
and appropriately bitter
wine.  Fill your cart instead with
things to make you feel rich: the oiled flesh
of artichoke hearts, the slippery vowels
of asparagus and arugula and asiago,
bread with an uneven
leaven of holes.  Buy things
still teeming, invisible cultures
swimming in a cup, taut colors
soaked in sun so far from this winter
your palms ache with the bright hot
light of oranges. Display the carrots
with their full peacock
greens on the counter next to cheese
that glistens with a softness of slow
time. This is what you’ve worked for, leaving
behind those dim nights
nuked with infomercials, the florescent
maraschino, the milky dressing’s cheap blue
water. Let go a past of unwieldy portions,
perishables sealed in boxes and cans,
all those puffed, sugared, colored
mornings that tore
your mouth to shreds.

This is what you always wanted: the cool
fruit held to your face,
its sweetness given
to your hunger. Cherish it,
thank it, let your teeth
break the skin with a sound
that reminds you of weeds
pulled from the garden, a pop
that sounds like one sound
but is in fact made of many,
each white strand snapped
from the dark
a sound of letting go, a hundred letting
go’s, a sound of a thing
dying under your grip, yes,
but not unlike the sound
made by that stubborn
horse who refused the trail
for a moment to lean his bridled
head down to this earth to stop,
to chew.

—By Nickole Brown


  4 Responses to “A Diet Plan That Works: Poem — Nickole Brown”

  1. Lovely.

  2. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
    so many lovely images
    so many favorites–arugula, asiago, artichokes, asparagus….

  3. Wow!!! I especially love “All those puffed, sugared, colored/ mornings that tore/ your mouth to shreds.” Thanks for this beautiful, thoughtful poem!

  4. Very moving. Such lush language. This gal rocks.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.