Thinking Makes It So: Whose cookies these are I think I know

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By Kelly LeVan

Call the roller of big scarves and let the wenches dawdle in such sweaters. Take from the oven the peanut butter cookies and spread them so as to cover your face.This is no time for cold, cold ice cream, unless it’s melting on top of hot, hot apple pie.This is, however, a time to mess up beloved poetry, in this case cleverly inserting full-bodied, seasonal nouns in place of Wallace Stevens’ existential corpse-side metaphor.November means heavy down comforters, sudden desires for stew and darkening tennis dates. It means requesting holiday vacation time, taking a lot of baths and, this year at least, reading Roddy Doyle stories while trying to use my intransigent chow-chow as a pillow. It means a lot of lazy things.But in our ineluctable torpor, I propose we seek out tasks that, while maybe not factually extraordinary, at least remind us of the spring-like giddiness of creation. We are not bears or sunflowers. We should not waste away our winters.Rewriting famous poems in completely self-serving ways can kill those long minutes while the macaroons bake. Consider it practice for later, after the schmaltz of Hanukkah and especially Christmas, when we take it upon our chubby selves to make the new year less embarrassing than the last.With this looming seriousness in mind, we had best use the next month and a half to our advantage.Let’s begin immediately. Since we have already ravaged “The Emperor of Ice Cream,” let’s look at Robert Frost’s “Acquainted With the Night” which might be the only incredible terza rima ever written. Nevertheless, the poem remains relatively unloved by the majority of cookie-bakers, not to mention fans of “Dancing With the Stars,” Sudoku and other forms of entertainment more common but not necessarily more exciting than terza rimas. There are two reasons for this.First, most Americans do not take enough poetry classes, and we’re unlikely to accidentally encounter a poem published in 1928 as we go about our daily recipe collecting.However, even if we should, googling La Terza Restaurant prior to a trip to visit aunts and uncles in Los Angeles, mystically encounter a Wikipedia entry devoted to terza rimas and featuring Frost’s indelible verse, we would frown. It’s just so anguished. Just ask those of us who read poems as a hobby, snuggled under massive blankets next to husbands or wives who might rather our eyes peruse their risqu pajamas than yet another stanza of A-B-A rhymes.Frost fans – who, for the most part, don’t actually own risqu pajamas – don’t mind a little sorrow, as long as it images of nature. They practically enjoy late nights fretting about loneliness and death. They eat special diets to promote insomnia.But you can’t enjoy the sweet smell of coconut, sugar and butter uniting while you read, “I have looked down the saddest city lane. / I have passed by the watchman on his beat / And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.”You can’t read about a man in the midst of his uneasy solitude while you are in the midst of macaroons. It leads to tremendous cognitive dissonance, and the cookies always win.Imagine the above stanza with a few adjustments: “I have looked out the frosted window pane. / I have passed by the packaged cookies on their beat / And dropped no money, my cart too full of organic flour to explain.”You get to eat an extra cookie, of course, if you use the poet’s name in your revision.

E-mail your “poetry” to Kelly at laeditor@ lamonitor.com.