How to Eat the Artichoke
Stephen Massimilla


If you gouge,

your unstrategic teeth
cannot penetrate it. Your palate

will reel
like a wronged lover from

the fibrous green;

so you take it
in your hands and pry
edge by edge,

scrape and suck, and lodge
the platinum paste

behind the fortress of your teeth,

and finger open the prickly folds
and flay closer,

toward the core,
toward evening,

…the next minute, the battlement
after that—caution:

scalding oil,
hot ice blossom
of garlic
floating in lemon water, a cluster
stripped past delicacy
down to the purple
choke, senses entering into
thistled mystery, dark green

like everything once manifest
in the market     (excitement in
the heart           of market vegetables,

artichoke, inner
sanctum that was more than
the wind          through the thorns,
than lemon,      more
than love was

no history,        no moment, no offering

but parting
in a green night,

copper crumbs,
burnt stars,
smoke-black pepper.


Let the heart taste loiter
in the bright climb from oblivion,

from the skeletal remnants—
all this junk,

this twitching crackle of dirt, of light.