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Pennies From Heaven

by Shelby Stephenson


Louis Prima: Keely Smith: Call of the Wildest − − Jump, Jive & Wail:
Scat, soul, humor: real, like The Witnesses
Riffing at the butcher shop of Louis’s pop.

1957:  Dj-ing at WMPM Billy (Shub) Dale gets the right to hang around
Down in the music.


Every time it rains into Mama’s little wooden recipe box with the tin-eagle
Thumb-tacked to the front, Cupid says Try this one called “Pennies from Heaven”:

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced into rings
1 onion, sliced into rings

When you hear the rain on the roof
Of the plankhouse
You don’t want an umbrella.

You probably don’t want to hubba-hubba.
The rain on the tin does not knock my
Socks off either  −

For the music’s in the wail
Maytle’s recipe shouts from atop Paul’s Hill

Rehearse out of the Southland −

Cook carrots done, but not over
Put onions, carrots, peppers in layers (alternate) in a bowl
Pour sauce over all
Marinate over-night

(Sauce: 1 can tomato soup, condensed
½ cup sugar
¾ cup vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and paper
Combine, mix, stir)

You got the world ringing.
Count your heart’s yearnings.
Let Butera’s sax scat; sing − rise into beauty’s rest.
You’ll survive with the fire of a stray cat!

This poem comes from an unpublished manuscript called “Shub’s Cooking” by Shelby Stephenson. About his poems, he says, “They come out of this place, here, where I was born at home: 985 Sanders Road, Benson, NC 27504.” The state of North Carolina presented him with the 2001 North Carolina Award in Literature, and his earlier chapbook, “Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl,” won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize. 

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