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Oatmeal by Galway Kinnell

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I believe that Oatmeal is my first poem by Galway Kinnell and I think of it and him every time I cook up my Bob's Red Mill stone ground oats with milk and maple syrup.

Oatmeal by Galway Kinnell

My own oatmeal

I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone. 
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that is better for your mental health 
if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have 
breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary 
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge, 
as he called it with John Keats.
Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats Oatmeal Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him: 
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime, 
and unsual willingness to disintigrate, oatmeal should 
not be eaten alone.
He said that in his opinion, however, it is perfectly OK to eat 
it with an imaginary companion, and that he himself had 
enjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser and John 
Even if eating oatmeal with an imaginary companion is not as 
wholesome as Keats claims, still, you can learn something 
from it.
Yesterday morning, for instance, Keats told me about writing the 
"Ode to a Nightingale."
He had a heck of a time finishing it those were his words "Oi 'ad 
a 'eck of a toime," he said, more or less, speaking through 
his porridge.
He wrote it quickly, on scraps of paper, which he then stuck in his 
but when he got home he couldn't figure out the order of the stanzas, 
and he and a friend spread the papers on a table, and they 
made some sense of them, but he isn't sure to this day if 
they got it right. 
Oatmeal in Mason Jars An entire stanza may have slipped into the lining of his jacket 
through a hole in his pocket.
He still wonders about the occasional sense of drift between stanzas, 
and the way here and there a line will go into the 
configuration of a Moslem at prayer, then raise itself up 
and peer about, and then lay \ itself down slightly off the mark, 
causing the poem to move forward with a reckless, shining wobble.
He said someone told him that later in life Wordsworth heard about 
the scraps of paper on the table, and tried shuffling some 
stanzas of his own, but only made matters worse.
I would not have known any of this but for my reluctance to eat oatmeal 
When breakfast was over, John recited "To Autumn."
He recited it slowly, with much feeling, and he articulated the words 
lovingly, and his odd accent sounded sweet.
He didn't offer the story of writing "To Autumn," I doubt if there 
is much of one.
But he did say the sight of a just-harvested oat field go thim started 
on it, and two of the lines, "For Summer has o'er-brimmed their 
clammy cells" and "Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours," 
came to him while eating oatmeal alone. 
I can see him drawing a spoon through the stuff, gazing into the glimmering 
furrows, muttering.
Maybe there is no sublime; only the shining of the amnion's tatters.
For supper tonight I am going to have a baked potato left over from lunch.
I am aware that a leftover baked potato is damp, slippery, and simultaneaously 
gummy and crumbly, and therefore I'm going to invite Patrick Kavanagh 
to join me. 


Feb 28, 2019 04:37 PM