Asking The Pizza Boy To Share A Cup of Gunpowder Tea

Diane Wakoski


Perhaps because the leaves are rolled up like bbs,
or pellet shot for muzzle-loaders,
Gunpowder Tea is dark as an old wound,

It has the almost antiseptic whiff of chests that might hold
coiled rope from a sea voyage.  When
I ask for it, I might
be asking for power,

as if I were an archer flexing her bow,
asking for Amazon arms,
or as if I were an engine bathing itself in oil.

When I request Gunpowder Tea,
it should signal that sometimes I wear
robes embroidered with woman warrior dragons,
that I am someone who knows how to handle a sword, as well as a bow.
And when I ask you to pour it — the
Gunpowder Tea — I am affirming
that I will honor your warrior stance as well.

This tea must be poured
at table where a liquor is brewed
that echoes
my applause
and your skinny pizza-boy stance,
that reflects your archer-wrists,
which flip white fans of parchment dough
into poetry like the words of
Li Po,
Each leaf,
round  as a tiny green pearl,
will explode
fresh in your mouth
and resound my news:
poetry’s Big Bang can lave any warrior’s tongue.


Diane Wakoski, born in Southern California, graduate of UC, Berkeley, began her poetry career in New York City (1960-1973). Her selected poems, Emerald Ice (Black Sparrow) won the William Carlos Williams prize (1989, PSA). The Diamond Dog (Anhinga, 2010), is her 23rd poetry collection. She retired from Michigan State University, spring 2012 after 37 years as Poet in Residence and University Distinguished Professor. This poem will be included in her new collection Bay of Angels (Anhinga Press, 2013).




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