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raspberry cheesecake
raspberry cheesecake

BooksAugust 21, 2020

The Friday Poem: how to cook cheesecake on a bbq by Paula Harris

raspberry cheesecake
raspberry cheesecake

A new poem from Paula Harris.

how to cook cheesecake on a bbq

you’ll need to borrow a cheesecake pan from your former best friend
who borrowed your cheesecake pan two years ago,
he just needed it for a few days, there was a dinner party coming up,
a dinner party you weren’t invited to, and you loaned it to him
because you know the value of a decent cheesecake pan
and a decent dinner party dessert
and then your depression got a bit worse
(not because of the cheesecake pan or the dinner party,
just because depression does this)
and you told him how you are so fucking useless at everything
and he said if you’re going to talk like that, I’ve got nothing to say to you
so you don’t talk to each other anymore
and he kinda proved your point

you’ll need to go to the BP on Main Street
to swap out the empty gas bottle for a full one,
you’ll need to stand there triple checking
that you’ve put the full bottle into the car
because you worry about getting distracted and putting the empty one back in,
and you’ll make small talk with Gerard
who works at the BP on Main Street;
you both used to go to Italian lessons together at night school
and his Italian was so much easier and smoother than yours,
he didn’t frown in concentration to figure out the words while listening,
but he’d first learnt Italian while working on the docks
so his Italian is flavoured with slang-you-wouldn’t-use-in-polite-company
and colloquialisms-that-aren’t-in-any-of-the-textbooks
and which he always apologises for
but smiles naughtily while apologising

and you won’t use a flash bbq, not one of those expensive hooded models
with six burners that you can set at a specific temperature,
not one of those ones that you can roast a whole chicken in,
no, you won’t use one of those, you’ll use an old bbq with a rusty flat lid
that has one grill and a hotplate, and clearly the hotplate
is what you’ll use to cook your cheesecake on

you’ll use Sylvia Plath’s recipe, the one for chocolate raspberry cheesecake,
because no one knew how to cook on a bbq quite like Sylvia
and her cheesecakes cooked on the bbq were the stuff of legend
– it takes a certain kind of mad girl to think that you can do such a thing –
and it turns out you’re that kind of mad girl too
and once you’re that kind of mad girl you know the recipe
you know all the secrets, you know how to get the right consistency crumbs
you know how hard to press the base into the pan,
you know how to get the cream cheese soft enough, soft enough, soft enough
you know how lonely the nights get and you pretend the days aren’t lonely too
you know how to keep the raspberries looking lush by crying 27 tears into the mix
you know how to grill the cheesecake til it’s perfectly set
you know how to garnish, you know, you know, you know


Submissions to the Friday Poem are welcome and will be open until the end of September. Please send your poems to

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