Thursday, April 16, 2020

ISMAEL REED
"The Diabetic Dreams of Cake"

“Wall Street says that cake sales are low”
Or to put it bluntly
“Cake is fizz”
So why is a diabetic dreaming of cake
Asked to leave a temple
Because he didn’t know that rice cakes
Were sacrament?
(He managed to jam some into his pockets)
He dreamed that Mount Diablo was a Devil’s food cake
He began to munch it down until his path was
Interrupted by his Pancreas
The Pancreas had sticklike arms and legs
It was frowning
It put up a hand and beckoned him to halt
He pushed aside the Pancreas and finished his
Meal

Next, he was attending the Asparagus Festival
In Freiburg
It was held in a great medieval hall and before
Each person there was a plate of asparagus
He started banging on his plate
Asparagus Nicht, Kuchen Ja

Next he was running across Central
Park, juggling a wedding cake without
Losing a single flake
Safely in some Brooklyn room
The news said that he had stolen
The cake from a tony East Side wedding
He didn’t take it all in

He was too busy eating the cake
And watching Julia Child bake
A cake

He was on a plantation doing
What looked like a goose step
He was twirling a cane
He was wearing a monocle
A black top hat
And shiny black boots
The master said, That takes the cake
Some of the slaves applauded
Others grumbled and called him a dandy
You can sleep with my wife and daughter tonight,
The master said
He started running because they were as ugly
Or shall we say beauty challenged as well
As booty challenged

Under an old Southern pine tree
He ate the cake

He was chillin’ with his witch
Not the one with a wart on her nose
And wearing a black cone-shaped hat
But a centerfold witch
You’ve seen her
She was honored at the AVN Awards
In Vegas
She was riding his broomstick
Hard
While feeding him gingerbread

The walls were caked with
Gingerbread, the doors, the

Floor, and the windows were
Gingerbread

Finicky about neatness
She kept sweeping his feet from
The table
But something outside of the window
Got her attention
Holding hands, two blond children were coming down the road
And here he thought that the bones in the fireplace
Were animal bones

She pushed him through the back door
But he persuaded her to give him a piece
For the road

Next he was sitting in on a congressional
Hearing on whether to classify pancakes
As cake. A conservative senator warned of
A slippery slope. What next? he said,
Icing on biscuits?

His mother learned to make chocolate
Cake when working for
A German family
Charlayne, whose mother was German, said
That the Germans used real cocoa
And so he found himself as tiny as a baby fly
Inside of his mother’s favorite cake bowl
He was climbing
The ladle to reach the icing around the
Rim of the bowl
He and Sigmund Freud

He kept falling backward every time
He was about to reach the top
Now they tell him that he has no free will
That bacteria inside his gut have goals
That don’t jibe with his
Or as the scientist says,
“Microbial manipulations might fill in
Some of the puzzling holes
In our understandings about food cravings”
In other words,
For his microbiome he is just a delivery system that
Brings them sugar

For them his body is a bakery
Is there no end to subservience?
He would find the conversation that his cells have
About him hair-raising
They crave cake even though
Cake spikes his sugar
And so as one grows older
While the external adversaries with whom
One had been feuding either die or
Break bread with you 
The internal adversaries multiply

They couldn’t give a Twinkie about
Whether you live or die


The Paris Review - Issue 218 (Fall 2016)

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