by Julianne Palumbo

Writer’s Block

Last night I dreamt a poet’s house
and wandered its spaces
from room to room to room.
As I searched, the house grew and grew
and its contents multiplied.
Rooms of books, piles upon piles,
cosmetics, creams, perfumes, and soap,
pillows and linens
and vases.
A warehouse of imaginings.
And the staircase stretched,
extending itself under my feet
so that my decline took minutes
and minutes more.
I found it on the desk
among notebooks and papers
a poem by Robert Frost,
written on parchment,
never published,
never found.
I perused the manuscript
with hungry eye
feeding my writer’s block
with fruitful words.
I framed it with my hands
and read more.
And then, from some portal of my own,
a sound nudged me
back to morning.
Waking on my pillow,
it came to light
the poem was mine now
if I could write it;
it was my dream after all.
I strained to bring the words back up,
to crystallize each lovely line or phrase.
I peered at the fading parchment
but it made no difference at all.


Making Alfredo

When I can no longer bear the thought
of sending you
heart open and spaghetti thin
into a broken world,
I make Alfredo.
Like a maestro facing his musicians,
I stand before the cooking pots
and raise my wooden spoons
to cue.

An enchanted chef,
my hand frees wanton tubes of penne
into the simmer,
while mist dances upward –
a formal minuet over the stove.

And, I, lost in the steamy twirls,
dream potent meals
to protect your bones
from the gnaw of hurt and sorrow,
while the sounds of cooking
echo in hallelujah chorus around me.

Cream and parmesan cheese swirl,
a pinwheel in the saucepan.
Prosciutto crisps and pops
in the fry behind,
sending scented melodies
into the smoke-filled air.

And then, as I drain the salted water
through the colander,
I pray your troubles filter too,
life’s small joys
resting al dente at the bottom.