3 January 2017
Poem for Glenn Roberts.
I care as little as you do, what they say about you. I care less about what you stand for, or who you stand with. Or where you come from. Or where you’re going. Because, despite all the compasses, you’re the barometer that brought us together.
We all draw our self portraits on the plates in front of us. We are all the artists of our own lives (Dylan). Each meal is a mirror. You broke the color barrier. You decolonized the kitchen and proved, again, that the meek who inherited the earth also cultivated the Garden. You threaded life as it were a loom: every filament was endowed with the respect of its texture. Every grain of sand was a kernel in the chorus. It’s the singer, not the song—you wove worm holes into tapestries embroidered onto the daily fabric of our lives. Food is our cohesion, how we eat our food is our fundamental carbon. The restaurant is a church and each recipe a prayer. You, Glenn, the thirsty Baptist, Johnny Evangel-seed: precious and lopsided and jurassic seeds—each palm cracked with age and their burdens hold these seeds. These jewels. These stories. And you, snake oil scarecrow, twisted biology wonk, watch with secular glee as each story curates its own mitosis. Slipping, spreading, and separating away from its origin, its parent, its dirt. Genesis unpacked like an accordion into the old Testament, into the seed catalogue.
You, Glenn. Daddy Beat, as Greg Corso used to say. PT Barnum. Timothy Leary: polycrop in, dry farm out, fertilize your cuisine. You, like Merce Cunningham or nervous Nureyev, pollinating the entire maudlin show. Big tent politics—you set the timbers and let us all in. Tickets? Fuck ‘em. You only sell tickets if the stories are bad.
But if it weren’t for you, we’d have no roles. If it weren’t for you—no matter what the playbill says—we’d all still be off Broadway, slouching towards Bethlehem. You know what it is about you Glenn? If we understand our food, we’ll understand ourselves. And you ticket the circus—from amongst and from within emerges our stories. Our fears. Our talents. Through your work, you let us all speak for ourselves. You gave us each our flour, our grits, our peas—whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not. Doesn’t matter. You gave us the luggage of language, of ingredients.
There was another Glenn in American history. He brought us into orbit. And may god bless you for bringing us back to Earth.