Guest poem submitted by Raj Palaniswamy :
(Poem #383) The Health-Food Diner
No sprouted wheat and soya shoots And Brussels in a cake, Carrot straw and spinach raw, (Today, I need a steak). Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw Or mushrooms creamed on toast, Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed, (I'm dreaming of a roast). Health-food folks around the world Are thinned by anxious zeal, They look for help in seafood kelp (I count on breaded veal). No smoking signs, raw mustard greens, Zucchini by the ton, Uncooked kale and bodies frail Are sure to make me run to Loins of pork and chicken thighs And standing rib, so prime, Pork chops brown and fresh ground round (I crave them all the time). Irish stews and boiled corned beef and hot dogs by the scores, or any place that saves a space For smoking carnivores.
1983. Notes: Maya Angelou is better known for her serious poetry about emancipation, freedom and equality, in particular about African Americans and women, particularly African American women. I came across this one by her completely by accident, in a collection of her poetry. This is different in theme from most of her other work, but is completely in keeping with her irreverence to what is "accepted" in polite society. It was written in 1983, but is increasingly funny in the overly health conscious 90's, and always amuses me. I can imagine her sitting down to a hearty meal, and laughing as she was writing this. I am very weight conscious myself but enjoy my meat, second hand smoke and an occasional puff on a cigar. I expect that most new agers might object to this poem, and I personally find the parentheses in the last lines a little unnecessary -- but who can resist this poem? Raj. [About the poet] Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Johnson is an author, poet, historian, conductor, actress, singer, songwriter, playwright, film director, and civil rights activist. Born in a segregated rural area of St. Louis, Arkansas, she comes from a broken home, was raped at eight, and was an unwed mother at 16 years old. Throughout all these circumstances she still managed to become San Francisco's first black woman conductor. She was also the first black woman to have an original screenplay produced in 1971, Georgia, Georgia. She has several volumes of poetry and some of her composed music was recorded by B.B. King She was also nominated for an Emmy Award for her acting in Roots and Georgia. She is fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, and West African Fanti. Ms. Angelou began her career in drama and dance, and she married a South African freedom fighter and lived in Cairo. During her five years in Africa, she lived in Egypt and became the editor of The Arab Observer, the only English-language news weekly in the Middle East. Later she also taught in Ghana and was feature editor of The African Review. In the 1960's she said that being black, female, non-Muslim, non-Arab, six foot tall, and American made for some interesting experiences during her stay in Africa. During this time she was also the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was also appointed to the Bicentennial Commission by President Gerald Ford, and the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year by Jimmy Carter. She has published ten best selling books and countless magazine articles, and in 1993 she wrote and delivered the presidential inauguration for President Bill Clinton. One of Maya Angelou's books, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was an account of her youth, describes the trauma of being raped as a child, the violent death of her attacker, and her subsequent refusal to speak for five years. It was the target of a censorship attack according to the Dec. 3, 1994 edition of the Washington Afro-American. The Round Rock, Texas parents thought that the book was "pornographic" and "just plain filth." It was also a two hour special on CBS. Currently, Ms. Angelou lectures throughout the United States and abroad and recently has been a Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.