Thursday, August 05, 2004

Steve, the Real Emperor of Ice Cream

Last night I had dinner with my daughter in Harvard Square. Afterwards we visited Herrell’s and ordered hot fudge sundaes. The ice cream was smooth and chocolately, the hot fudge was rich and delicious, and the whipped cream was real and wonderful. The quality of the ice cream is the same as it was at the original and glorious Steve’s of Davis Square circa 1973.

Finale of Seem
in memory of Steve’s Ice Cream 1973

My life’s been rightly reckoned out
in hot fudge sundaes, worshipping
the god of chocolate—giving thanks
to whipped displays of fall or spring,
the summer going nuts, or merry
December eves topped with a cherry.
But paradise was Davis Square
waiting in line for half an hour
outside of Steve’s, the genuine
establishment and not the whore
of Babylon they bought and sold
for cheap confections plated gold.
Yet all things pass, just as my life
is dripping down its sugar cone
towards concrete cracks of nothingness.
The emperor’s world is overthrown—
we lick time towards some bitter end.
The ice cream though I’d recommend.

That’s because the same man started both establishments and still controls Herrell’s. Steve’s Ice Cream has since disappeared, run into the ground by ignorance and greed. But, having sold the name Steve’s, Steve Herrell started Herrell’s Ice Cream instead. I’d recommend their ice cream.


Dr J said...

I like this, but I have to ask: am I right in hearing an Eliot echo-parody in the first two lines? Shades of Prufrock's measuring out of his life in coffee spoons?

There's something about the phrase "the summer's going nuts" which rings a bell, though it's not coming to me.

Let the lamp affix its beam....

aum dada said...

Dr J: correct you are sir. It wasn't there at first, the Eliot that is, but as I worked the line, I began to hear an echo, so I just tweaked it a bit to make it louder. I'm glad it's loud enough now for someone else to hear it, but maybe soft enough to have them question it.

Dr J said...

Well, it rang to my mind almost immediately, but I'm also one who tends to see Eliot hiding under his bed at night. Have you read John Hollander's The Figure of Echo? It's a text I'm more and more inclined to think necessary for poets and readers in order to understand (and to deal with) the dimensions of verbal texture, the reminders, one might say, of the centrifugal space in which the best poetry exists. They are, so to speak, the details of the Marabar Caves.

aum dada said...

I've never read it (and by the price at Amazon I won't be buying soon) but I'll keep my eyes open for it the next time I go library browsing. My guess is that Mr. Hollander wouldn't approve of my usage of such Eliot allusion, that it's not appropriate within the context of the poem. I have to admit that I tend to be somewhat libertarian in my approach these days. The narrative can be disjointed and twisted and turned inside out as long as I can connect the literal dots in my own mind. Dylan Thomas told it first, not to say that I could ever even lick his shoes. And everything out there is a color in my pallette if only I wish to use it.