In the middle of December,
something rings

in the corn, the bull’s eye
of campus, in a blue light

that is three-quarters
at best,

tracks me like a sister
into a world of developing

bells. Husks
pull closed over dying meat.

A dusky tongue gongs
the lips of liberty

and Andromeda is pushed
to the sky’s orange rim.

The barntops hide
from the roofs of libraries

and labs, inhabit this season
with humble angles

acute against the night
and the things that sleep

in it. In St. Joseph,
a television is turned off,

a bed goes dark.
In Mahomet, a woman checks

to see if a window is closed
because how can this house

be so drafty? Her feet drag
slowly across the carpet

gathering enough electricity
to fill a glass with warm water

from the tap, the faucet
closing like a curtain

in a hospital where
so many babies, just today

were born. Somewhere—
Tuscola, maybe—we all

reach an age when we stop
crying over trivial things

and words, where blessings
fall to asphalt and melt.

Under the cornfield,
the Boneyard Creek

hatches its fish in secret,
waiting for the philanthropist

moon to lift
its water up.

The Morrow Plots Cover


Matthew Gavin Frank MATTHEW GAVIN FRANK is the author of “Barolo” (The University of Nebraska Press), a food memoir based on his illegal work in the Italian wine industry. His memoir, "Pot Farm," is due out from the University of Nebraska Press in 2012. His poetry book, "The Morrow Plots," will be published by Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books in 2012 as well. He is also the author of “Warranty in Zulu” (Barrow Street Press), “Sagittarius Agitprop” (Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books), and the chapbooks “Four Hours to Mpumalanga” (Pudding House Publications), a poetry sequence about his initial visit to his wife’s homeland in rural South Africa, and “Aardvark” (West Town Press), a poetry sequence that strangely engages the alphabet. Recent work appears in The New Republic, Field, Epoch, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, North American Review, Pleiades, AGNI, The Best Food Writing 2006, The Best Travel Writing (2008 and 2009), Creative Nonfiction, Gastronomica, Plate Magazine, and others.

To research “Barolo” Frank spent six months in Barolo, Italy (pop. 646), living out of a tent in the garden of the local Pittatore farmhouse. Through the Pittatore family, he was able to secure work picking wine grapes for famed vintner Luciano Sandrone. Through Sandrone, Frank developed relationships with the region’s families, restaurateurs, butchers, vintners, local foodstuffs, odd markets, and circus-like atmosphere in experiences both gustatory and death-defying.

Matthew Gavin Frank was born and raised in Chicago. Bitten by the food, wine, and travel bug, he left home at age seventeen, embracing the vagabond lifestyle that often lent itself to work in the restaurant industry. He ran a tiny breakfast joint in Juneau, Alaska, worked the Barolo wine harvest in Italy’s Piedmont, sautéed hog snapper hung-over in Key West, designed multiple degustation menus for Julia Roberts’s private parties in Taos, New Mexico, served as a sommelier for Chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand in Chicago, and assisted Chef Charlie Trotter with his Green Kitchen cooking demonstration at the Slow Food Nation 2008 event in San Francisco. He returned to academia and received his MFA in Poetry and Creative Nonfiction from Arizona State University. He taught creative writing to undergraduates in Phoenix, Arizona, and nonfiction writing to soldiers and their families near Fort Drum in upstate New York on the Canadian border.

Frank is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, an Artist’s Grant to the Vermont Studio Center, the Sonoran Prize, and numerous grants from the Virginia G. Piper Center for the Creative Arts. Presently, he teaches creative writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

His current favorite ice cream flavor: beet-jalapeño. Find him at www.matthewgfrank.com

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