Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader



As Winter Storm Izzy whirls through the greater region, with its glaze and spit and powder, a dream of summer comes to me. Meet me there, if you’d like, with poet Mary Ruefle, in my mother’s backyard…

Mary Ruefle is everywhere! She was on the plane with me yesterday, and now she is in the hotel…


I’ve seen her walking the streets
in her greatcoat, head down,
hair blown back. I’ve seen the dogs
straining at leashes
in search of her. Her perfume
is death, a black silhouette.
In May, she straightens up,
shortcuts through the hotel
lobby, losing her scarf
which was strangling her.
And then I lost her,
but wait—
Summer, my god here she comes,
floating on air—
I can only imagine what
she’s been through,
reeking like that
of gardenia.

-Mary Ruefle

*     *     *

My God – the thought of gardenias!

*      *      *

In her poem “The Unfurl,” Ruefle says Spring is like

“Mozart! wafting from tree to tree
trying to say something with his hands
the leaves so helpless and small
one bird calls to another bird
something friendly and innocuous
kid-chat then seriouser and seriouser
until it sounds like they’re in love
the leaves unfurl a little more”…

* * *

As they unfurl, Ruefle watches and waits…

A Morning Person

What a beautiful day for a wedding!
It was raining when we buried my mum,
she loved lilacs and here they are,
the lilac lilacs like pendulous
large breasts dripping with dew,
I am enjoying them alone with my
mug of coffee, which I also enjoy
with the intensity of a remark
made in a surgical theater.
Soon I will vacuum the day,
not a speck of it will remain,
I will suck it up like a bee
at the tit, making a hoopla.
But now it is quiet, hardly anyone
is dressed, not a doggie is walking.
I think flowers enjoy their solitude
in the early dawn before the buzz begins.
I think sprinklers annoy them.
I hear one coming on.
I hate my poems.

*     *     *

Oh but I love them!

On her latest collection Dunce (where you’ll find these poems):


Long listed for the 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD




  1. “My mother’s backyard” conjures all kind of memories, images.. Here’s a haiku a friend sent this morning.

    Snow lies on the hill,
    Bushes, trees, and underfoot.
    Readying for Spring.

    Be safe today, everybody!

  2. I love these so much that I will start Wordle today with “Dunce.” Thank you for sharing.

  3. I love your posts. I can smell those gardenias and feel the velvet of their petals. I so long for summer, and to one day meet you, Jennifer. I am warm and filled up when I finish what you have to say for the day. Thank you. I am ordering Dunce today.

    • Well how lovely Rebecca!! I would love to meet you as well. Sending very warmest wishes today… and thank you for reminding me of the velvety feel of gardenia petals… xoxo

  4. What a blast of spring! I’m completely without patience in January winter, but like Carrington, I’ll go get Dunce and maybe feel, if not more patient, a degree smarter. Thank you for being such a skilled, loving curator of uplifting thoughts and words!

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