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Just Foodin’ Around

In Mississippi, we squeeze life from the ground,

bite it raw allowing it’s juices to baptize our taste buds,

sucking the soul of sweetness that sacrificed itself for us.

Sometimes, we batter it and drop wishes into hot grease,

allowing our dreams to become golden brown

as we give praise offerings with well-buttered yams

whose sunset-orange aroma gave an Invisible Man new life.

One time, Big Mama tanned my caramel hide

for picking her jade tomatoes before their reddishly ripe time.

Yet their fried goodness was well-worth the crucifixion

for salvation is always found in a simmering skillet

worked by hands that can shell peas and cast spells

to feed a family of forty with four fish and a whole lotta fries.

I once had a midnight beauty break bread

and make magic in a kitchen that became our church.

She offered me a meal

like we were having communion.

Surrounded in silk smooth sauces and thick tangy gravy,

she submerged me in peas, greens, and beans

as cornbread became a life preserver

to sop spirits flowing like pot liquor

that christened my shabby soul while Karo syrup

became a balm to soothe the scars left by plantation misfortune.

On the altar of our dinner table,

we allowed ourselves to be anointed by

butterscotch smiles dipped in cinnamon tears,

while the swirling scent of mocha earth,

plumb peaches, baked chicken, and pecan pie

reminded us that God is food.

And, in Mississippi, we eat because

His body is the Gift of our sustenance.

-C. Leigh McInnis*

*C. Liegh McInnis is a poet, short story writer, retired instructor of English at Jackson State University, former editor/publisher of Black Magnolias Literary Journal, and author of eight books, including four collections of poetry, one collection of short fiction (Scripts:  Sketches and Tales of Urban Mississippi), one work of literary criticism (The Lyrics of Prince:  A Literary Look), one co-authored work, Brother Hollis:  The Sankofa of a Movement Man, which discusses the life of legendary Mississippi Civil Rights icon, and former First Runner-Up of the Amiri Baraka/Sonia Sanchez Poetry Award.  Additionally, he has been published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. He can be reached at his website

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