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Alex's Chile-Head Verse

Back to the Leaves

These are song and verse parodies I've composed around chile themes. I post these to the Chile-Heads list as I write them. Some of these have been altered slightly for this collection.

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End of the Garden, 1999

At the end of the '99 growing season, I pickled a mix of peppers I had on hand. That was the inspiration for this spoof of Macbeth. As I mentioned to Jim Campbell and Tony Flynn, I can't tell if this is a recipe or a curse - but if you're cooking habs, what's the difference?

The original for this is from Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1, the famous scene with the three witches around the cauldron. (That is also the source for the "something wicked this way comes" line.) There are some nasty and non-PC ingredients in the original, BTW. Keep in mind that Macbeth schemed to be king. Finally, my apologies to any actual witches out there.

Double, double, toil and trouble
fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Wrinkled hab from deadly vine
slips into the steaming brine.
Jalapenos red and green,
Fresno's glow and Bonnet's sting,
fleeing before the hand of Frost
into heat of Fire are toss'd.
Datil's dimple, Cayenne's crinkle,
O'er Pimento's point we sprinkle.
Tiny tepin, busty bell,
simmer in this broth of hell.
Here within the pot, immodest,
Peter Pepper finds the Goddess.
Fillet of a big New Mex
swims with coriander flecks.
See the skinless Stinking Rose,
quick! Into the pot she goes!
Flavors, mingle! Vapors, rise!
Fingers, tingle! Burn thou, eyes!
Cover then this mix obscene
(making sure the rim is clean);
bind it down with gleaming bands,
still too hot to touch with hands.
Up onto the shelf it goes,
adding to some hotluck's woes.

And when thou sit upon the throne,
then the Potion's work is done.

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Music time again, kids, turn to your Aerosmith...

Green chile-head, his salad always only lettuce
Till he talked to his grocer who say
Well this morning I got a
Lovely case of avacado
And you're sure to be a chang'n your ways

He went to the dealer, got a vegetable peeler
And he learned a little flick of the wrist,
Got a lesson in life
When he picked up the knife
And it started with a big, round pit -
Like this!

Started on the choppin' with his fingers kinda bopp'n
Garlic vapor rising up in the air
Yeah the onion got diced, the tomato looked nice
With a bit of jalapeno in there.

So he thought he had a winner at the hotluck dinner
With an entry that was ready to burn,
But as soon as it was tasted
We agreed his time was wasted
And he still had a lot to learn
I told him to

Guac this way, guac this way.
Guac this way, guac this way.
Just gimme some chips! -
Like this!

I said you' re probably gonna wanna
get yourself some good serrano
Or some Arbol hang'n off o' the tree
I said it might seem silly
But I saw your Super Chile
And I noticed it was point'n at me.

I had a next-door neighbor
With a sauce that had some flavor
But there was something it was seeming to miss,
So I took a little scratch
From the habanero patch
And I gave it just a little twist -
Like this!

Well the sucker had a winner at the next hot dinner
All the sweaty people lined up to say
They all knew he wasn't fool'n
When he left the judges drooling
When I told him how to Guac This Way

Guac this way, guac this way.
Guac this way, guac this way.
Just gimme some chips! -
Like this!

BTW, you should go back and look at those original lyrics - sheesh

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This one is an original, done as a blues song although I never really crafted a melody for it.

I go down to the store,
but I can't buy no more.
Ain't got an inch left free
in that sagging fridge door.

Too many hot sauce blues,
so many ways to light my fuse.
Scares me to say,
some how some way,
every one of these gonna shine
on my back door some day.

This one's kinda settled,
this one tastes like metal.
What was this old water-soaked soaked label?
I forget - awww!

Here's one I adored,
here's one I ignored.
Here's a sticker saying
"I Support President Ford!"

Too many hot sauce blues,
I got the door open, trying to choose.
Trying to summon my will,
as I run up the bill.
Patting myself on the back
for every little bottle I kill.

Those wings got a coating,
my tacos are floating.
Playing with beans in a deep bowl of sauce,
thinking of boating.

Pour another one dry,
with each dinner I fry.
Take one to the office,
sit in the lunchroom, and cry.

Too many hot sauce blues,
So many troubles I gotta lose.
Folks think I'm insane
as I go through my pain.
But I know deep inside,
I can't change.

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Now something tender, sensitive and nurturing...

The problem is all your food's too bland, she said to me,
The answer is easy if you sprinkle liberally
Just call upon El Grande and I'm sure that you will see
There must be fifty ways to season supper

She said I must admit a habit to partake
Furthermore I put these flavors into every meal I make
So I satisfy myself with several dashes or a shake
There must be fifty ways to season supper
Fifty ways to season supper

Just chop up the habs, Babs, get the Arbol, Joel,
Pick the tepin, Jean, just listen to me
Shake out the dust, Gus, don't need to discuss much
But try the Aji, Lee, and set yourself free

She said it grieves me so to see food go to waste
I'll bet there's something I could do to cultivate your taste
I said I appreciate that,
and you may have made your case about the fifty ways

She said, why don't we both just try it on a bite
And I believe, in a moment you'll begin to see the light
Then I tasted it and realized she probably was right
There must be fifty ways to season supper
Fifty ways to season supper

So peel the New Mex, Tex, dry the cayenne, Stan,
Dip in the datil, Will, and try not to sneeze
Fry up the Thai, Sy, you won't even ask why
Just roast a poblano, Dan-O, you're gonna thank me

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Now for something simply raunchy, thanks to ZZ Top...

When you get up in the morning
with your chile pepper pants
and your screaming hab t-shirt
they won't even stand a chance
when catsup makes them sweat
then you can show them who the boss is -
and go get yourself some cheap hot sauces!

Oh yeah!

Met a spicy lady
just as hot as she could be
her leather squeaked like Xena's,
chiles tattooed on her cheeks.
She blew my buds away with her pepper popper process -
but what really knocked me out was her cheap hot sauces!

So go on out and buy yourself some thick, dark red
with the fire so hot it will burn holes right through your head
the choice is up to you,
it all depends on what the cost is -
champagne habs or cheap hot sauces!

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Time for the Dylan voice, offering a tale of the cycle of woe awaiting those who buy chiles:

Well, they'll stone you when you see how high they price 'em
And they'll stone you when the clerk don't recognize 'em
They'll stone you when your family all dispise 'em
Yeah! They'll stone you when it smells because you fries 'em!
Well I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned!

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Someone posted to the chile-heads, asking how to tell when pods were ripe. I gave a useless answer in the form of a parody of the poem To His Coy Mistress.

To His Coy Pepper Plant
with apologies to Andrew Marvell

Had we but garden space, and time,
This under-ripeness were no crime.
You could leaf out, and think which way
To ripen slowly through the day.
Thou, in the sun's unending light,
Should'st rubies grow; I by the side,
Perspiring, would complain. I would
love you before your first green pod,
And you might choose to stay unripe,
'Til I post to the list to gripe.
Capsaisinophilic love would grow,
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thy leaves, and on thy blossoms gaze.
Two hundred to adore each shoot,
Five hundred to ponder your root.
For, lady, you deserve this praise,
I'd love you still, through all my days.

But at my back I always hear
Frost's winged chariot drawing near;
And in the kitchen, even still,
No ripe pods do my vessels fill.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in they barren row will sound
Thy rustling leaves, then worms will taste
Thy still-green pods, now gone to waste.
The compost heap's a nice warm place,
But none, I think, go there for taste.

Now therefore, while your youthful hue
Of blooms glistens with morning dew,
And while your bursting leaves transpire,
And every pod fills up with fire,
Now let you ripen while ye may
So I may, in the kitchen, play
And so at once your heat devour,
Rather than wait these endless hours.
As I harvest your vibrant gifts,
My spirit to El Grande lifts.
Thus, though we cannot stop the frost,
Your hot perfection is not lost.

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In celebration of Jim Campbell's open hab fields 2000, this is a spoof of Sailing to Byzantium, by Yeats.

That is no country for spices. The jam
On larded biscuits spreads, among the sweets
The maraschino cherry on the ham,
The salmon rolls, the crowded mac and cheese,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, vegetables from a can,
The mildest fare celebrated as treats.
Caught in the sleepy blandness all will spurn
Condiments laden with merciless burn.

A bland palate is but a paltry thing,
An idle tongue, a sweatless brow, unless,
It joyously discovers capsaicin,
And every meal with liveliness is blessed,
No joy is greater than the harvesting
Of sacred pods whom all proclaim the best.
So I have traveled overland to be
In the sandy, rolling fields of Waverly.

Oh firey, potent pods upon the vine,
Whose brilliant reds eclipse the tones of Fall,
With every thunk, the bucket says you're mine,
Had I but time, I would gather you all.
Then after all my labors you will line
The waiting shelves along my kitchen wall.
Then be you dried, or potion held in glass,
I'll always have you there to kick my ass.

For ever more, when I will go to meet
My fellow Chile Heads, each one will bring
Some cherished sample of this Summer's heat
To share with all, the blessed suffering;
Then these red habs will make the scene complete,
All friends together, in the firey ring.
Then all will gladly raise a glass and toast
The generosity of James the Host.

Open Fields RSVP 2001
When Jim Campbell sent out the RSVP for the fields, I responded with a parody of James Joyce:

O and the hab the hab crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious tepins and the datils in the Field of Screams yes and all the muddy little rows and the white and purple and yellow bells and the serranos and the tabasco and New Mex and Waverly as a nubile chile maiden where I was a Flower of the Moraine yes when I put the hab in my hair like the Yucatan girls used or shall I eat a red yes and how El Grande kissed me under the spreading leaves and I thought well as well Him as another and then I asked Him with my lips to kiss again yes and then He asked me would I yes to say yes my Moraine flower and first I put my lips around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my tonsils all perspired yes and His capsaicin was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.

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Open Fields RSVP 2002
This one is a parody of Cesar Vallejo's Black Stone on a White Stone - which begins with "I will die in Paris when it rains." Of all these parodies, this one's original source was the most gloomy and difficult to work with. I looked at a few translations, then looked over the shoulders of the translators to the original in Spanish

I will harvest habaneros, on a rainy day
as on a day I already remember.
I will harvest habs - and I don't run away -
perhaps on a weekend in the close of September.

It will be a weekend, because this weekend, writing
these lines, my insides burn in disarray
and never in my life have the penalties of biting
too many habs been as clear, as today.

El Grande has passed; he has been consumed
by those to whom he intended no harm.
to sauces and powders, forever he's doomed
once I have harvested, down on the farm,
witnessed by the weekend, and by the rain,
and the long road I travel to gather this pain.

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