Local food poetry


By Angie O’Connor, from Wattle Glen

Oh, Yacon

Oh, yacon
I reckon
to snack on
you beckon.

By Christina Spry, from Montmorency

Recipe for Cabbage

Take one large cabbage
Cut in half – slice thinly

We battle the melee of people jostling
At Dad’s favourite vegetable stall
he always chooses the biggest
the best cabbage
thick and heavy –
lots of dark green outside leaves

Take one large cabbage
Cut in half – slice thinly
Bring the water to the boil

At home Dad cuts the cabbage in half
separating the leaves to wash vigorously
shaking in a clean bowl of water
sometimes he’ll find a green
caterpillar nestling among the leaves
I throw it in the bin

Take one large cabbage
Cut in half – slice thinly
Place slice cabbage in water

Dad hands me the big knife
I put the leaves on the wooden board
and cut each one into thin slices
fill the saucepan with cold water
add some salt and bring to the boil
pop the leaves into the boiling water

Take one large cabbage
Cut in half – slice thinly
Add salt boil for twenty minutes

I arrive home from school
and let myself in the front door
the smell is overpowering
this means boiled cabbage for tea
(or maybe it’s Brussels sprouts?)
wonder what delights we’ll have with it?

Take one large cabbage
Cut in half – slice thinly
Eat with potatoes meat and thick gravy

By Fee Sievers, from Eltham

At Day’s End

Diced beef in a wok
Ice in a fat-bottomed glass
I prolong the pleasure of the pour
TV blares as dog barks and kids bicker
Feet scream for a rest while I
Lay out dinner on the bench
Chop carrots and snowpeas
For stir-fry and fresh lime for gin
Just the one but today it’s a double
I splash sauce on red meat
Gin in the glass
Add tonic as ice cracks
Like stepping on egg shells
Add lime slice fresh as summer
Reminds me of hot nights
Like a life time ago
With ice-cold lemonade
Crayons and a grazed knee
No lemons for me
Too often they’re bitter
As am I

By Gillian Essex, from Eltham

Doctor Google

It’s thanks to Dr Google
That I’m feeling no alarm
Though my symptoms are quite strange
They’re doing me no harm

I type and click and let
Doc G quickly diagnose
My complaints – she lets me know
Why I’m on the nose

I thought that eating home grown veg
Would mean a healthy life
But when I ingest artichokes
My belly’s in such strife

It makes me look quite pregnant
My gut is wracked with pain
In order to obtain relief
I fart and fart again

The trouble is when I grow veg
I eat them to excess
And my digestion cannot cope
In ways I now confess

Although it is embarrassing
To talk of wind and pee
Thanks to Doctor Google
I know it’s not just me!

Doc Google says it’s beetroot
That makes my pee turn pink
And also says asparagus
Gives it that awful stink

I’m missing certain enzymes
To help me cope with this
The evidence is damning
It’s right there in my piss

And eating carrots gives my skin
An obvious orange hue
So tell me Dr Google
What am I to do?

It seems the dietary guidelines
For me are topsy-turvy
I need to eat 5 fruits 2 veg
But at least I won’t get scurvy

By Jennie Ramage, from Ivanhoe

I’m busy busy busy” said the bee
I shan’t be home for dinner or tea,
it takes me hourszzz and hourszzz
to visit all the flowerszzz

By John Jenkins, from Kangaroo Ground

[The illustration is also by John.]

Marcel the Poodle (our Gourmet in a Beret)

Marcel the poodle
Ate oodles of noodles
And haute cuisine
From his fork.

 He wolfed down croissants,
Soufflé and poulet
 And duos of baguettes
 Served with pork.

“It’s a mere bagatelle
To dine out so well,”
Said stylish Marcel
Looking great.

 A true gourmet like me
 Has éclairs with tea
 Plus a big pile of snails
 On his plate.

“And I’m fond of fondue
Or a gateau or two
With a bowl of French fries
Till I’m sate.”

With a glass in his paw
Marcel poured himself more

Bordeaux red and some fizzy champagne,
Then he sniffed and he licked AND HE ATE!

Welcome to Piggly Park!

We’ve been invited to Piggly Park
To be met by Lord Grunt at the gate,
We’re having an afternoon mud bath with him,
So bring soap and do not be late!

At Piggly Park you are welcome to dine
At a nice picnic spot by the lake.
Lord Grunt eats a bucket or two of stew
And mixes his meals with a rake.

Lord Grunt likes turnips and pink fizzy gin
And he wears a bow tie and top hat.
Admire his moustache and big double chin,
But please don’t tell him he’s fat!

By Karen Throssell, from North Warrandyte

Achieving blisspoint

Why do we eat what we know is unhealthy?
Processed food devoid of all nutrients
It alters our brain, so we want more and more
Bypasses our natural feelings of hunger

Processed food doing positive harm
When did our produce become packaged product?
Eating makes money – don’t wait for hunger
Chemical agents affect our metabolism

When did our produce become packaged product?
Companies work on creating addiction
Chemical agents affect our metabolism
Our brains are hard wired to respond to rewarding

Taste testers work on achieving ‘Blisspoint’
ultra-processed and ultra addictive
Our brains are hard wired to respond to rewarding
Food is also adjusted for ‘mouth-feel’

‘Mouth feel’ almost important as taste
It alters our brain, so we want more and more
Plus the perfect equation of salt sugar fat
Why do we eat what we know is unhealthy?

Earth magic

I love my compost. If I worshipped anything
it would be this wonderful pile
of slimy mould ridden not-waste

seething with flies and grubs
shape-shifting into chocolate rich soil
running through your fingers like gold

Like the magic ‘cut and come again’ pudding
steak and kidney, with a pot for a hat
and a bad temper

once sliced, grows itself another
A perennial pudding
But even it can’t turn back into a cow …

The cycle of fertility and decay…
means compost does!]

transform construct renew
Less and less you see
old dead food, eggshells, orange peel

Mouldy clots of sludge disappear
turn grassier then browner
swarming with the myriad creatures

it is feeding and who are feeding it:
ants and worms and beetles
and the thin threads, long arms of mycorrhizol fungi

Lo! ugly duckling becomes graceful swan

Compost is chemistry— nitrogen carbon combining, reacting
religion – rotting plants/earth, sun/fire, rain/air  complete the circle-earth
alchemy – the ancient art of transformation and
poetry – ordinary becomes extraordinary

Perfect persimmon (diospyros – divine fruit)

Orange oozy sumptuousness
skin-sliding off like a skun rabbit
(but the cheery orange stops you
balking at this comparison.)
Appeals to your inner messy kid, who wallows
in sloppy squelchy chin-dripping food
which no-one can eat and keep themselves clean.

Defies all the rules of ‘fresh off the tree.’
Actually has to sit on the sill till it’s old
and squashy enough to be sweet.
Too early and it’s puckering sour…
So – a fruit which is perfectly ripe
when it’s wrinkled and ancient.
Gives you a new perspective on aging…

A divinely beautiful fruit, bright shiny
apricot tones – glowing as it ripens on the ledge
perfect sunset globes gracing the tree’s naked arms.
Just for the artists, ripe after leaf fall
Much painted, printed and etched, in its native
Japan –you’d plant it for that art in your garden.

Male and female flowers grow on separate trees,
but sometimes there’s a special one:
both male and female, pink and creamy white
making a ‘perfect’ hermaphrodite.
So it doesn’t need its ‘other half.’
Gives you a new perspective on we spinsters…

In Ozark folklore it can predict
the severity of the coming winter.
In Korea the dried persimmon has
a reputation for scaring away tigers.
In our folklore it could be a symbol
of exquisite and succulent
mature spinsterhood.


I remember warm dark days
before-days, when comfort-coiled
I waited for signs – drips of damp
tempting my tightness. Slowly I unfold
stretch. Now I know there is an Up
to aim for. I straighten, thrust.
Suddenly this burst of bright!
Mother released me.

I don’t remember this being part of the deal.
Just going about my business
with sun and rain—my perfect green
slow-grow. So what’s this on the wind,
the devil’ s mad brew?
Too fast, too tall, all show
roots can’t support – goodness all gone
Mother won’t be pleased.

And here we have her vengeance
Think you can bend me to your will?
Screw you, and your poisonous greed
And she groans, roars and cracks
wide open, gaping wound to be plugged
by them and all their detritus.
But who will survive her wrath? Why me.
She is my mother – I am reborn.

By Lee Hirsh, from Armadale

The Whisk and the Paint Brush

Beat the yoke with the white
Luscious layers blend nature’s hues
Blend nature’s ingredients
Nature’s enmeshment
Ooze squelch smear
Bubbles and froth seep through the metal gaps of the whisk
While the paint and the pigment hold it together
A domestic artistic marriage
Consuming passions unite.

By Matsuo Basho, from Japan

Coolness of the melons (a Haiku from the 17th Century)

Coolness of the melons
flecked with mud
in the morning dew.

By Pam Jenkins, from Diamond Creek

First poem

I had a little peach tree,
Nothing did it bear,
But some mushrooms right down near the ground,
And a pumpkin way up in the air.

Second poem

Is that an angel’s trumpet?
No it’s a tromboncino.
I’ll serve it up as a tasty dish
Washed down with a glass of vino.

Third poem

There’s an amanita phalloides in my veggie patch, A coprinus comatus in my drive,
One is out to kill me,
The other helps me thrive.

Amanita phalloides
the death cap
Coprinus comatus
the shaggy ink cap
Fourth poem

The Harvest Feast has come around again.
Where gardeners share tales of joy and pain.
And eat the fruits of their collective labours.
And savour all those wonderous flavours.

There’ll be veggies, fruit and lots of eggs.
But nothing that ever got about on legs.

I’ll take along some peaches in bottles.
Glowing like sunshine on flowers of wattles.
This year the feast will be the best by far.
Especially with my gift of sunshine in a jar.

Fifth poem

There was a lady who wouldn’t watch telly
Got a rumbling sound in her belly
So she took off her red hat
And her purple cravat
And turned apples and mint into jelly.

[Editor’s note: my understanding is that Pam really did wear a red hat whilst making her mint jelly.]

Permaculture Victoria

A Christmas carol for permies – I Saw Three Chooks

I saw three chooks come scratching by
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
But no way they were gonna die
On Christmas Day in the morning
These chooks play such a useful role
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
Manuring, weeding, pest control
On Christmas Day in the morning
So though we self-sufficient be
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
We let the feathered species be
On Christmas Day in the morning

By Robert Lastdrager, from Montmorency


Last night I woke
to the sound of heavy rain
and howling winds
harassing an empty can down my street.

Its hollow cries demanded attention
as it slid and clattered painfully
into rain swollen gutters.

Ignoring the current
it drew breath and spun, rattling
back into the road.


It continued to grate and hesitate
tinking and tonking
until a lone speeding car approached
crushing its armour
and its emptiness.

Recycling can be so satisfying.

Fly Pie!

There once was a fly who thought of nothing but pies
The pastry, the gravy and sauce
Then one lunchtime from high in the sky
It spotted the flurry of an apron in a hurry.

All caution abandoned on a table it landed,
And with a hop and a skip it stood on the lip
Eureka!” it cried “What a lovely pie
And sat down and started to sip.

With a splosh and a sigh the sauce was applied
As dribble glistened on a chin
With nostrils flared and napkin prepared
Fly and pie were hoisted toward a large toothless grin.

Out came a tongue with a lick and a smack
And after a mouth full came a terrible cough and a hack
There’s a pie in my fly, I mean a fly in my pie!” a voice cried
As the blowie jumped with nowhere to hide.

To the kitchen window it flew
Through a small hole in the fly screen it knew
It looked to the sky and said with a sigh
Ah, there’s always cat food and poo

  2 Responses to “Local food poetry”

  1. Thanks for the joy of poetry.

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