how to make bread pudding

Jeremy Paden


having clipped & collected enough crusts/soak them

in milk flavored with strawberry toothpaste/


have everyone bring something/no matter who

they are/what they’ve said/what their arrangement


with the captain might be/this is a joint effort/

a pot/a hot plate/milk/sugar/all those crusts


multiplying beneath beds/once warmed through/

let the goop cool/so it does not burn your tongue/blister


your palate & throat/use fingers/unless you have a spoon

hidden away/deny no one the grace of sweet breads/


pass the pan around the cell/as if it were a gourd

of bitter herbs/steeped in water/boiling/& dusted


with sugar/just like on those long nights gathered/

back when El Turco still rode the range with his guitar


& gauchos/& no one thought it empalagoso/

back when your only care was spirits & maté/


when politics was an argument among friends/

you were left in the leftist of youth/you knew


no montoneros/no fuerzas armadas revolucionarias/

back in the days when no one refused to sing


casi/casi me quisiste/casi te he querido yo/no llores

negra/no llores no/when even the line/vino un fuerte


remolino/rama y todo se llevó/seemed hopeful/

no one worried about tomorrow/because love/


surely love would come in the morning/& if not/

at least there was Sosa/Cafrune/Jara/Yupanqui

how to multiply breadcrumbs


hide your crusts in a box/or in those shoes you never wear/

tuck them in a pouch of folded paper/let them dry


underneath your bed/eat the larger for their rocky

crunch/thicken broth with the flyaway powder/save


it all to make bread pudding/you will eat every speck/

live by it/staff & staple of life/even stale/moldy/


even after dust has filled the smallest of cracks

& holes/but do not forget prison math/increase comes


only when all your bread is cast upon the waters/

you must/at the shore/have bid farewell/& watched


the waves pull it apart/only after giving it up for lost/

after many days/only after/will it return twofold/threefold



do not/think/they

will ever let/you

boil water/pour it

in a gourd filled

with mate/

those dried leaves 

smell too much

of earth & sun/

 too much

of late nights


/for examinations/

discussing anything

with friends

/but politics/

"These poems come from a series based on the experience of survivors of Argentina´s Dirty War. Fernando Reati, a colleague of mine when I taught Spanish at Georgia State, had been detained as a college student in the late 70s. While I was at Georgia State, Margarita Drago, another survivor, came and read from her memoir. Both of them talked about how they, in different prisons, would try to cook things, dulce de leche, bread pudding, cheese. I found their stories of resistance through cooking to be fascinating. The use of the backslash in lieu of commas is homage to Juan Gelman, a recently passed Argentine poet, who lost a son and a daughter-in-law to state violence. He routinely used backslashes in his poetry in just this manner."

Jeremy Dae Paden is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. His chapbook, Broken Tulips, was published by Accents Publishing in 2013. His poems have also appeared in Adirondack Review, Atlanta Review, Beloit Poetry Review, California Review, Cortland Review, Louisville Review, pluck!, Rattle, among other journals and anthologies.