Eviction by Puma Perl

The night was excessive for a Tuesday.

I reached Jackson, a street unfamiliar

to most East Village folk, a neighborhood

so Lower East Side you can still buy

Little Debbie cakes and Champagne Cola,

no NYU dorms or purple buses, no Starbucks.

They removed the Citi bikes – too many people

lounging on them, drinking wine, selling weed.

 

It was the fifth of the month. You can always

spot piles of belongings near the curb around

that time – someone failed to show in Housing

Court or just gave up after the final five-day

eviction notice. The sad and lonely accumulation

of somebody’s life had already been picked

over. Damp books and dish towels and single

socks and empty suitcases littered the sidewalk.

Always, there are empty suitcases in the mix.

 

A newish looking Armenian cookbook sat atop

a Fine Fare crate. Curious, I picked it up.

On the title page, it was written in neat script

Property of Juan Rosado, underlined twice.

I don’t follow recipes but I read them like poems.

 

Pignoli nuts, one half cup, onion sizzles,

lemon juice squeezed, hold firmly, broken

into small flowerlets, green, cut in desired

lengths, brown sugar, hot peppers, celery

tops, season water, cloves garlic minced

chopped crushed mix pickling spices finely

to serve keep in dark place ready to eat

in ten days leave in cold water drain and

press combine kimion allspice paprika

paprika garlic one for each bring bags

in at sundown dry uncovered for one more

week paprika sprinkle sauté until soft

 

I wondered if Juan Rosado liked Armenian

food or if he found it in the remnants

of another’s misfortune. Did he ever taste

the eggplant dip (broil until softened, cool)

or the fried cheese turnover (cut in small pieces

and knead), did he ever roast a pumpkin?

 

Carefully, I set the book in a clean spot.

Maybe the next potential chef will be

luckier than poor, homeless Juan Rosado.

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