Friday, March 13, 2009

P-oetry Friday: The Letter P


Erin over at Down the Rabbit Hole participated in an interesting challenge: she was assigned a random letter (she got the letter "n") by Lindsay over at Adventures of a Book Thief (who got the letter "m" from someone called HBee over at ....well, you get the pattern) - the goal is to make a list of things you love that begin with the letter you've been assigned. Erin's list is great and includes explanations: night, Neverland, Nosferatu, north, narwhals.....At the end of the entry, she asked if anyone else wanted a random letter and I volunteered. She sent me the letter "P." So now it's my turn. But first, because it's Poetry Friday, I offer up this p-oem:

P Poem

p pod
p ter rabbit
p ter pan
p nut butter
p j's
p stains
p brains
p u
p kaboo
p zand q's
p's be with you

P.S. - That' p-retty bad. For fun, here are ten of my favorite things beginning with the letter P:

1. POSTCARDS - I'm addicted to real photo postcards, the kind that itinerant PHOTOGRAPHERS made by traveling the country and taking photos of houses, stores, families, events, landscapes - to be mailed or kept as souvenirs. It's especially exciting to find one that shows real PEOPLE going about their lives, where you wonder exactly what was happening before/after it was taken.

2. PICNICS- It's hard to choose just one reason for why I love these. Is it because they came to me in summer, the season of my birthday and the season of belief? Because even in an industrious family, this was the time people gave themselves PERMISSION to relax? Because we always got baked beans and POTATO SALAD? (No one made potato salad like my grandmother, and then my mother, and now me, and next my daughter....the secret is: go heavy on the dill PICKLES....) Because a picnic was always so temporary - finish eating, pack up the hamper, toss the garbage, shake off the tablecloth, and it all disappeared? The answer is yes to all of these POSSIBILITIES, as well as one more: the setting was always PARADISE - a lake, a river, or saltwater somewhere nearby, sand, driftwood, sun. On some occasions, the scent of eucalyptus trees. Adults falling asleep on blankets while kids PLAYED.

3. PARIS - What's not to love? The small streets of the Marais, the medieval collection at the Cluny, the vintage shopping arcades, the PINK tinge to the old buildings, the slow-moving Seine, the PUPPET theater in the Luxembourg Gardens. Even the manhole covers in Paris are beautiful. Plus, Paris takes you into subcategory "P"'s - PATE, PATISSERIES, PARFUMERIES ....Here is a photo I love of children at a puppet show in Paris - the photographer was Alfred Eisenstadt. Just look at those faces! This is why I love writing for kids:

4. PESTO - The perfect combination - olive oil, basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese. Close your eyes and take a bite of anything with pesto on it or in it, and you're in Italy, and the sun is shining. Here's a woman in Orvieto on market day, and a delicatessen in Bologna (photos from

5. POETRY - well, that's a given, right?

6. PASTRAMI - but not just any pastrami. This has to be a pastrami Reuben sandwich on rye and it has to be at Kenny and Zuke's in PORTLAND (sorry, New York, but Kenny and Zuke's wins, hands down. ) Their Reuben, without a doubt, is the sandwich of choice for the gods on Mt. Olympus. Believe me, this sandwich is worth flying across the country to taste. And the whole Kenny & Zuke's vibe is energizing, PLEASUREFUL, noisy, fun. Top it all off with an egg cream and, for dessert, a traditional regelach. Oh, yum. Even Homer Simpson agrees:

7. PERLMAN - as in Itzhak Perlman. No matter what he plays, you can hear EVERY note clear as a bell, no matter how slight, no note is slighted, and you can hear his love of and respect for and PASSION for the instrument:
8. PEPPERS - jalapeno, serrano, de arbol, ancho, poblano, manzana, mirasol, pasilla, chilaca, guero, rocotillo, verde, guajillo, habanero, piquin (ouch, ouch, ouch, hot!!) - where would food be without them?

9. PARADES - I love them big or small. Love the floats, love the silly Parade Marshall and/or the Princess looking like waving to the crowd is the highlight of her life. Love the themes - St. Patrick's Day, a local Tulip Festival, 4th of July, Little Italy's San Gennaro. And there's something about a marching band that always makes me break out crying, which is probably not the intended effect.

10. PIAZZOLLA- as in Astor Piazzolla, the composer and bandoneon player who revolutionized traditional tango music. Piazzolla was born in Argentina but spent most of his childhood in New York City. He was the son of Italian immigrants, and learned to play the bandoneon when his father, nostalgic for his homeland, found one in a pawn shop. Yo-Yo Ma plays Piazzolla's "new tango" music on "Soul of the Tango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla."

I'll continue the chain....does anyone want me to send them a random letter? Just enter it in the comments field (w/ email address or some way to contact you via a blog...?) and I'll send you one.

LATE ADDITION: Oh, no!!! Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect has just reminded me of Pride and Prejudice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, I have to continue my list, because that can't be left out. I'll make it a baker's dozen of P's:

11. (Two-for-one) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and PERSUASION by Jane Austen - perfect books, which I read every few years. And unless anybody thinks these classics are too highbrow, I'll include the BBC version of P & P with Colin Firth (w/Darcy's infamous dive into the POND, though my favorite scene is when he runs toward the carriage as Elizabeth is trying to get away - the way he buttons his jacket and straightens it as he hurries to catch her before she leaves....) And I'll add Persuasion's near-perfect adaptation to film. Thank you, Ms. Austen:

12. POMEGRANATES - which are so beautiful and mysterious and strange. They have always unnerved me, ever since reading the myth of PERSEPHONE and her abduction by Hades to the Underworld. Imagine Demeter's grief as she searches for her daughter, and Helios, the sun, telling her where the girl is. Imagine begging Zeus, the girl's father, to let her come back from the Underworld, and then imagine eating just a few seeds of a pomegranate while you are retrieving her, and condemning your daughter to one season a year below the earth as Queen of the Underworld. Gad. And imagine how nice it would be if we understood our own modern religions in this metaphorical way - as myths to explain the seasons, the weather, the salt of the oceans, the natural world in general - instead of needing them to be the literal truth. Powerful stories, understood metaphorically - that appeals to me.

13. PAIN AU CHOCOLATE made by Besalu, Seattle's yummiest PATISSERIE (see #3 sub-categories). Anyone who has ever eaten one of these at Besalu knows what I'm talking about. In heaven, I'm going to have one every single morning, along with a cappucino made by the people at Caffe PUCCINI in San Francisco:

I have to stop this!! (there's PIZZA, PUGET SOUND, PRESENTS, PULLED PORK sandwiches from PASEO in Seattle's Fremont District, PROVENCE, PUMPERNICKLE bread, the PACIFIC Ocean, PROSCIUTTO, POTTER (Beatrix) and PETER(Rabbit), .....and how can I leave out PENCILS?? No, I can't leave out pencils....

and I can't leave out the most important one of all:


Poetry Friday is being hosted this week by Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Since this post honors the letter P, don't I get one P.S. ?? Here it is:

P.S. There is no way to leave out PIKE PLACE MARKET in Seattle - one of my favorite places ever. Hard to believe that back in the mid-70's our City Fathers (along with some pretty greedy real estate developers) were talking about pulling it down; now it's probably one of the most visited sites in Seattle (and you can get some fine vegetables, fish, olives, cheese, bread, humbow and PIROSHKIS there...) (and the view of ferry boats out on Elliott Bay is to die for) (strolling around buying grapes, avocados, limes, cilantro, pears, blue cheese, hazelnuts....oh, Pike Place Market is as close to living in Europe as I'm ever going to get.)


  1. I love your list, though Pride & Prejudice would be very near the top of my list. Want to send me a random letter? I'd love to play.

  2. I love a parade! I make my friends suffer in the cold with me every year for the Santa Claus Parade!

  3. Really enjoyed your list, a sensuous educational experience and a great antidote to my mid-morning energy dip.

  4. Tricia - I sent you the letter D - have fun with it! (Darcy begins with a D!)

    Erin - We have a Christmas Boat Parade in Seattle every year - and have to stand in heavy coats on the beach to seen it. Brrrrr.....

    Jacqueline - It's mid-morning for you and mid-night for me! Your blog says you live in Mozambique, is that right? That is thrilling, getting a message from you across the world. Let me say how much I loved your poem, VAMOS EMBORA PARA PRAIA - the response to the poetry stretch where we used words from other languages. That's beautifully done. I'll post this message over on your blog, too, to make sure you see it.

  5. I love pesto. Love all your p's. lol

  6. I like your list! Some of it I enthusiastically agree with, and some of it my un-cosmopolitan experience has yet to expose me to.

    Now I'm hungry...

  7. Oh what a treat: beautiful children's faces, Colin Firth, basil, peppers, chocolate croissants! Mmmmmm.

    I do like your p-oem, by the way, especially p u!

  8. Julie, your post was the perfect panacea for the push-and-pull of this week! I am dreaming of Paris as I pen this (and dreaming of Paris pain)! Great reading. And, yes, I'm hungry now too! Among my favorite P's: the perfume of peonies.

    I'd love to play the letter game, if you have any to spare (uppercase, lowercase, I'm not picky).

  9. Okay, you keep adding to the list! When I saw the letter d I thought "Oh crap," but my list kept growing as I started thinking about it. For sure there were lots of things not on my list, like diet and dentist!

    I had fun playing along. I hope someone asks me to send them a letter (mwahaha)!

  10. I'm assigning random letters and will go to your websites to let you know, too. These letters are being pulled from a Boggle Game. So far, Tricia has gotten a D.

    Yat Yee, your letter is G.

    Martha, your letter is L.

  11. Thanks, Julie! Fun!

  12. Thanks. A list of G words already forming in my head.

  13. Love love this P-post!! So many of my fave things on your list. I'd add pajamas, and pasta (it's National Noodle Month)!

    P-lease send me a letter; I'm an alphabet freak.

    P.S. P-kaboo is brilliant :)!

  14. Love it! Very fun!
    (my word verification even started with P!)

  15. Jama - I've posted something over at your blog & your letter is a T - (Taylor, James!)

  16. This was so much fun, Julie. Just the thing to perk me up at the end of a very long week.

    I'll take a letter, too. :-)

  17. Hi, Dianne - It's so nice to see your message here - hope life & poetry are going well. Be sure to let me know if you're ever headed up this direction - I'd love to see you.

    You've got the letter B! Let me know if you post a list...?

  18. Thanks, Julie. Letter B. I'll work on it this weekend, and let you know when I post...

  19. My list is up, including several obvious words that I couldn't just leave off! Thanks again for the fun.

  20. That is a fun project (or is it only fun until someone loses an I?). But pity the poor person who gets X. Oh sure, you can say "X tra whipped cream" and such, but if you have to start with the letter? Rough.

    Were I not so busy, I'd take an assignment... but didn't want to procrastinate pre passing praise (politely).

  21. Great list and poem! I love Pomegranates, or, as it's said in Hindi, anaar. Here's a completely random fact, since we're talking about letters. Usually Hindi alphabet primers have anaar as the first word, as in, A is for Anaar, so it's one of the first words kids learn to write in Hindi.

    Pride & Prejudice, parades, poetry ... all awesome picks!

  22. Nandini - I love the idea of an alphabet book starting with Anaar - a pomegranate (which sounds so exotic to me) when an apple (which might sound exotic to other people) sounds so familiar. It's a big, lovely world of languages, isn't it?

  23. Thanks, Julie. This was a lot of fun! Here's my list:

  24. Hi Julie - this is great! Am I too late to play? I would love a letter...

  25. Just goes to show that there's so much to love in the world, no matter what letter it starts with!

  26. Mikki - Hey, congratulations on the about-to-be-launched Dragon of Trelian!!

    I put a comment up over at your blog. The letter that came up was "C." Have fun with it.

  27. I finally put up my list (had to finish packet 2 first). Thanks for letter, Julie! And for the congrats! :)

  28. um, thanks for THE letter, that should be. :)

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