OATMEAL
(When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone)



I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that is better for your mental health if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary companion.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge, as he called it with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him:
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime, and unsual willingness to disintigrate, oatmeal should not be eaten alone.
He said that in his opinion, however, it is perfectly OK to eat it with an imaginary companion, and that he himself had enjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser and John Milton.
Even if eating oatmeal with an imaginary companion is not as wholesome as Keats claims, still, you can learn something from it.
Yesterday morning, for instance, Keats told me about writing the "Ode to a Nightingale."
He had a heck of a time finishing it those were his words "Oi 'ad a 'eck of a toime," he said, more or less, speaking through his porridge.
He wrote it quickly, on scraps of paper, which he then stuck in his pocket,
but when he got home he couldn't figure out the order of the stanzas, and he and a friend spread the papers on a table, and they made some sense of them, but he isn't sure to this day if they got it right.
An entire stanza may have slipped into the lining of his jacket through a hole in his pocket.
He still wonders about the occasional sense of drift between stanzas, and the way here and there a line will go into the configuration of a Moslem at prayer, then raise itself up and peer about, and then lay itself down slightly off the mark, causing the poem to move forward with a reckless, shining wobble.
He said someone told him that later in life Wordsworth heard about the scraps of paper on the table, and tried shuffling some stanzas of his own, but only made matters worse.
I would not have known any of this but for my reluctance to eat oatmeal alone.
When breakfast was over, John recited "To Autumn."
He recited it slowly, with much feeling, and he articulated the words lovingly, and his odd accent sounded sweet.
He didn't offer the story of writing "To Autumn," I doubt if there is much of one.
But he did say the sight of a just-harvested oat field got him started on it, and two of the lines, "For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cells" and "Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours," came to him while eating oatmeal alone.
I can see him drawing a spoon through the stuff, gazing into the glimmering furrows, muttering.
Maybe there is no sublime; only the shining of the amnion's tatters.
For supper tonight I am going to have a baked potato left over from lunch.
I am aware that a leftover baked potato is damp, slippery, and simultaneaously gummy and crumbly, and therefore I'm going to invite Patrick Kavanagh to join me.


Galway Kinnell
There's no such thing as a born writer. It's a skill you've got to learn, just like learning how to be a bricklayer
or a carpenter.
~ Larry Brown
poets011003.gif
The Silence/Warning
Permanently
Occasional Alternative
Your Poem, Man...
How to Be a Poet
Oatmeal
Dear Reader
Kidnap Poem
Ars Poetica
Several Things
The Poet
Word
Poet's Corner
How to Eat a Poem
Why I am a Poet
The New Poetry Handbook
A Loaf of Poetry
For Poets
Poet, Trying to Surprise God
Why I am Not a Painter
Apple that Astonished
Eating Poetry
A New Poet
How Can You Become Poet
Selecting a Reader
The Joy of Writing
Notes on the Art of Poetry
Why do Poets Write?
Glass
I Stop Writing the Poem
An Obsessive Combination
Poet's Corner
LAUNDRY DAY
LINKS
SHOE BOX
SITE MAP
SCRAPBOOK
POETRY
WELCOME!
VIEWS
DIURNAL
QUOTES
agrannylg2.gif
Tasks
Teaching the Ape to Write
People Like Us
Man Writes Poem
poetry readings
The Silence
You Go to School to Learn
Dear Editor
Writing
The Trouble with Poetry
I Ask You
Excerpt
Rereading Frost
Home Fire
Want Ads
The Trouble with Poetry - 2
poets011002.gif
poets011001.gif
Sonnet
Poetics
Thesaurus
The Secret
Of Modern Poetry
live, on stage!
A Considerable Speck
The Best Cigarette
Digging