December 15, 2013

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry

‘Ode to Popcorn’ by Peter Harris

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

An ode, says Webster’s dictionary, is a poetic song marked by exaltation of feeling. The feeling of today’s ode by Peter Harris of Waterville is inspired by the transformation of seeds into popcorn.

Ode to Popcorn


By Peter Harris


I pour the shape-shifters

out of the old Mason jar into the pan.

The color of honey, sleek

in their pile of steamlined sibs,

not one of them cares if they’re on top,

no rivalries, no grasping,

nothing falsified from skin to core,

no hint about what’s pent inside

their quarter inch of seed,

that only gets expressed

when, as now, they’re being boiled in oil.


Soon they’ll snap the strappings of their haiku form,

explode ten times their size,

go wild, expressionist; no two the same:

fist, cloud, snapdragon, cauliflower,

elephant man, barnacle, meringue, a bowl

of almost weightless meteors,

an orchestra of mutant trumpets

all playing off-white tunes, although,

in each, their husk remains, in caves

or sunk in sockets like weird eyes.


For flakes like these, no way back

to raindrop symmetry. A little salt and butter,

then on to meet their call: to melt

in mouths that crave a hint of paradise.


Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © Peter Harris. Reprinted from “Freeing the Hook,” Deerbrook Editions, 2014, by permission of Peter Harris. Direct questions to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, special consultant to the Maine poet laureate, at or 228-8263.

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