Famous Hot Gravy

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The code of flavor burns

in the bottom of a grease bath,

flour and fat, pepper and salt,

 

the spices and the grease again

though the filters run every

third batch, run again and again

 

as the hot trays fill and empty

with bird upon bird. But soon

the silt of flavor builds

 

in the white bucket you tuck

back in the walk-in until

the roiling water’s ready

 

and you stir essence back

and add the corporate secret—

the binder of food starch,

 

maltodextrin, and the rest

hydrolyzed, modified, and

artificial, with not more than

 

two percent silicon dioxide

added as an anti-caking agent.

And the flavor of packaging

 

the heat transfers, the flavor

of heat itself sets and skins

over until the surface breaks

 

and the memory of roux

and right and wrong burns

the top of your mouth, tempts

 

the tip of your tongue

and your pour it on

despite your best intentions.

 

Photo By: Mattijs

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About Author

Jon Tribble is the managing editor of Crab Orchard Review and the series editor of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry published by Southern Illinois University Press. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, Poetry, Crazyhorse, Quarterly West, and The Jazz Poetry Anthology. His work was selected as the 2001 winner of the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize from Sarah Lawrence College. He teaches creative writing and literature, and directs undergraduate and graduate students in internships and independent study in editing and literary publishing for the Department of English at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

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