I Went to Las Vegas Dressed up Like Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I Went to Las Vegas Dressed up Like Samuel Taylor Coleridge

April 18, 2009

I went today. I got dressed up for it, I wore a dark suit
With grey stripes, A white shirt with cufflinks, Instead of a tie
An orange ascot, sheer, Vintage, flamboyant around my neck.

On my head, I wore a dark velvet cap backwards That a hatmaker in New York City
made for me.

I parked my car in the long term lot And I was thinking:

What’s happening to me? Why do I make myself up like this, now, In my life?

I got on the shuttle bus to The airport. I was feeling unsettled.

There was one other man on the bus, A black man.
He was wearing a dark suit With light stripes
And a hat Like mine.

He wore it backwards, Just like I was.

He had a graying beard Cut close to his face, just like I do.

We stared at each other For a long moment.

He knew what I was thinking, I knew what he was thinking.

We looked just alike. We didn’t turn away from each other, Just as I was thinking do you feel unsettled — he broke the silence:
“you look good, man,” he said.

“Thanks,” I said, “you too.”

I later saw him in the airport and he nodded to me, I nodded to him. I’m sure he is telling this story to someone. Maybe he’ll read it one day and recognize
Himself. I’m sure he didn’t think he looked like Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

I swear to God. Don’t go to Las Vegas, it’ll mess you up.

Wedding Poems

How the eggplant got its name
Wedding poem #5

I named it
In ‘06 I was on loan to the Court Of the Ottomans
From Prince Ali the last of the Jewish kings of Hejaz
From the Court came the request
The love meal for bint Abdullah
The daughter of Abdullah and her beloved
Ovadia.

I had sent for the marriage tea with gold flecks
From the tea master
To accompany the meal
I was asked to create something
Entirely new.

It was Sukkot
The full moon signifying the complete
Appearance of the newness drawn down during the days of Awe
And no challenge was too great.

There was a field of aubergines just beyond my rooms
We called them then nightshades
Or binjal in our dialect
al-badinjan in the tongue of my father
from the Persian badin-gan
my cousins in India where it originated the Sanskrit vatin-ganah.

I went and picked the finest of the field
Soaked them in salt to absorb the bitterness
From the nicotinoid alkaloids (related to tobacco plant of course),

I sliced the succulent aubergines
Stuffed them with a delicate tomato sauce spiced lightly
With fresh garlic and a perfect maltese basil
And drizzled it all with the finest olio vergine I have found
(the great olive oil must suffer)
Which at that time was the DiGregorio from the other side of the mountains
Near Spello
Where San Francesco once walked.

In the kitchen the aubergines were cooking
the Imam came for a taste
(always a pest)
He stuck his finger into the tender aubergines
Tasted
And fell out in a full faint right there.

The first words the Imam uttered as he returned to us were,
This is the most delicious dish I have ever tasted
Thus the name that has accompanied the dish
I created that night
Imam Biyaldi
The Imam fainted.

I thought it an indignity
I was flamboyant with olio that night
The delicate aubergines diminished by the transmissions of false histories
The oil was too expensive and the Imam fainted dead away!
That’s not the way it was.

Later that night I served the delicious aubergine
To the bint Abdullah and her beloved Ovadia
Followed by the wedding tea from the tea master
With the gold flecks
They drank the tea under a canopy of linen created for just this occasion.

In the morning she sent me the following message:
The eggs have been planted.

I took that to mean that the wedding meal was successful
In every way

And from that moment on the beloved aubergines
Were known in our court

As eggplants.

jsg, usa