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Par Delicatesse


by Bill Yarrow


I.

Rimbaud said,
“Par delicatesse
j'ai perdu ma vie.”

In the delicatessen,

I have lost my life.


I know what he meant.

I also have wandered among the smoked

fish, lean pastrami, marble rye, have

stood by the wicked pickle barrel, have

stared longingly at the crumbly halvah.


II.


Dante said one day he found himself

in a delicatessen ("selva obscura")

not knowing which aisle to walk down,

not knowing which meat to choose.

He too felt that he had lost his life.


I know what he meant.

I too have suffered paralysis

in a plethora of possibility:

belly or Nova, herring or tongue, chub or sable,

kreplach or kishke, kugel or blueberry blintz...


III.


Fitzgerald: "In the real dark night

of the soul, it is always three

o'clock in the delicatessen."

O lost! O lost! He lost his

compass in the schmaltz.


I know what he meant.

I've been in the 3 A.M. cream cheese.

I've known the hole in the bagel.

The potato knish is doughy. My life?

A shmear in someone else's appetite.
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