When The Bread Fails, by Liz Ahl

The vast sweltering kitchen inside
the sweltering farmhouse inside
the sweltering county inside

the sweltering July — no real rain
for two weeks and yet the air hangs
a hot damp dishrag around your neck.

All the extra wet finds its way into the chemistry–
when the bread fails, you kick yourself
for not having realized how the bread

would certainly fail. When the bread fails,
the kitchen blames the cook; the cook blames
the kitchen. The wrong kind of salt.

When the bread fails, give it a funny name –
monkey butt, knuckle-bone –
and maybe there’s a scrap of hope for it.

When life hands you failed bread,
make croutons for soup. Make soup
even though it’s too hot for soup.

When the bread fails, add a can of vodka
instead of that last can of water
to the syrupy lemonade concentrate;

squeeze in the juice of a lime, knock some ice
into tumblers. Contemplate your over-reliance
on certain words: sturdy, inexplicable, literally, monastic.

See if you can make the computer fail,
the poem draft fail. When the bread fails,
toss it like a Frisbee to the red dog.

When the bread fails, flattened
into a communion cracker, eat of it,
for it is my body, my dense, airless body.

When the bread fails, falls, flounders,
is too wet, too dry, too crusty, too dense,
remember: it is flour, salt, yeast, water.

Liz Ahl is the author of Talking About the Weather (Seven Kitchens Press 2012), Luck (Pecan Grove Press, 2010), and A Thirst That’s Partly Mine (winner of the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook contest). Luck received the “Reader’s Choice in Poetry” award at the 2011 New Hampshire Literary Awards. Her poems, some of which have received Pushcart Prize nominations, have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Measure, Crab Orchard Review, and North American Review,among others. Her work has also been included in several anthologies, including Mischief, Caprice, and Other Poetic Strategies (Red Hen Press, 2004), A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (University of Akron Press, 2012) and Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence (University of Iowa Press, 2002). She has been awarded residencies at JentelThe Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and The Vermont Studio Center. She teaches at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire.



  1. A beautiful poem fragrant with vibrant imagery and language that is innovative and eloquent. I loved the lines, ‘ the air hangs
    a hot damp dishrag around your neck.’ You have a unique way with words,your poetry is just amazing. Thanks for a gorgeous share.
    Please find time to read my poetry on my blog, Rain-Chimes~ My Poetry Blog, http://drsmitasriwas280.wordpress.com/

  2. Thanks very much for your compliment! Happy 2014, and happy writing to you.

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