1688 The Ramen

The Ramen
by Sheldon Goldfarb


Editor’s note: as a Holiday and post-Christmas answer to that leftover turkey or that ham, lamb, or duck roast, we present Sheldon Goldfarb’s solution — The Ramen! Sheldon adds that the poem was inspired by the cartoon below, courtesy Janet Rudolph’s Mystery FanfareRichard Mackie


Edgar Allan Typoe mis-submits his poem, The Raven. Courtesy Mystery Fanfare

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
Suddenly I felt quite hungry, and I wondered where my food be,
So I went a-silent wandering down beyond my chamber door.
Fool, said I, you have no porridge, nor some gruel or other store,
All you have is olden noodles and the carvings from a boar,
      This you have and nothing more.

So I heated up the water and I thought what else I oughter
Do to make myself a meal that my spirits might restore,
And I thought about moyashi, looking everywhere I could see,
But I only found some seaweed and some soy sauce in my store,
Only some confounded seaweed and some soy sauce in my store.
      This I found and nothing more.

But I set about the kitchen, boiling water as if witchen,
Set to make some old exotic dish I learned from ancient lore,
And I wished I had some chicken which could make the dish to thicken,
But I only had some pork rinds and some soy sauce in my store.
Just some old, decaying pork rinds and some soy sauce in my store.
      This I had and nothing more.

Jeremy Pahl (Saltwater Hank) with a scarce bottle of China Lily soy sauce during Covid, October 2020. Courtesy CBC

But of course there were thick noodles, lots of them, indeed quite oodles,
With the starchiness I needed so to make my spirits soar,
And I threw them in the water which with heat became much hotter,
And I danced around the stove top while I heard the water roar.
Dancing, dancing round the stove top while I heard the water roar.
      This, I said, will me restore.

But – oh woe – it went quite soggy; this was not the way it should be,
Making soggy, soggy noodles that would ne’er my soul restore.
And the pig meat and the soy sauce seemed to languish in the soup toss,
And I felt that I had failed in my late attempt to soar,
Failed so miserably to soar.
      This I’d done and nothing more.

Instant ramen noodles

And I put the dish upon the table, dressing it as well as able,
Though my heart sank to my bootstraps and I could not feel more.
And I scraped a chair across the woodwork, sat me wearily with footwork,
But I barely raised a whisper of a thought of something more.
There would be so little more.
      And I felt my heart grow sore.

But suddenly there was a flavour, there was something I could savour,
In the pot of broth and seaweed, with the pork rinds and what more.
There was something from the mixture that I thought could be a fixture
Of delightful dregs and dewlaps that could make a witch’s store,
Such delightful dregs and dewlaps that could make a witch’s store.
      This I had and so much more.

Boiled ramen noodles

Noodles, noodles, in the mixture, ‘magining a greater fixture
Of recumbent, olden maidens, harkening to make me soar.
I could grow a new Pygmalion’s sculpture like a diving vulture,
Diving into spots of virtue or of cesspools or of more.
Spots of virtue in the cesspools and some more.
      This I dreamed and so much more.

And then I set to eating greedy as if I were truly needy,
And my thoughts were all a-glistening like the daydreams of the poor,
Just like wild enchanting evenings I would not allow some leavings,
But would go on eating wildly till there was not one thing more.
Eating wildly and not idly, till there really was no more.
      This I thought would build my store.

Pork Ramen stir fry. Courtesy Julie’s eats and treats

And there came a time when famished I was not, nor ravished,
But was resting idly, eaten, and of food there was no more,
Sitting bloated at my table, having eaten all was able,
Resting now or even sleeping and I dreamed of so much more.
Dreaming of the witch-like meal, dreaming then of so much more.
      Then it was I heard a snore.

And I grunted and I snorted, like a human being transported
Past the realm of daily doings, past the dreams of blood and gore.
And I dreamed about the future and I felt a growing suture
On my body as I meandered through the growing mists of yore.
Sutures for the wounds upon me through the growing mists of yore.
      Then it was I heard a snore.

It was I who did the snoring, it was I who was then shoring
Up the battlements of dreamland and I gave a mighty roar,
Dripping through the foggy future, dreaming of a bloody suture,
And the dreams came fast upon me and it made my head feel sore.
All those dreams that came upon me that did make my head so sore.
      Then it was I heard a snore.

Fool, said I, this is but dreaming, your imagination’s steaming
From the bowl of rotten ramen and the books of ancient lore.
What do you think you are doing? What great deeds are you accruing?
This is nothing, this is foolishness – no more.
Utter dreamy foolishness, no more.
      And I gave a mighty snore.

Sweet and sour pork ramen. Courtesy Bellyful.net

Snorting, dreaming, sleeping, fleeting, this is what becomes of eating,
Eating vast diseaséd ramen wrought before you from your store.
You must sleep until you’ve done this and then maybe you can jaundice
All your life into a pinprick of forgotten ancient lore.
All your life is just a pinprick of forgotten ancient lore.
      This is what it is to snore.

And I’m sleeping, still am sleeping, and these words come out of deeping
And I seek to cry despairing from the wretched empty store.
Is there, is there balm in Gilead, this I must know from the Iliad,
This I know would make me feel justified of ancient lore.
Then I’d know there was some value in those books of ancient lore.
      Suddenly I gave a snore.

And it woke me, nearly woke me, as the dream I thought had broke me,
But I wandered through its foglines and I headed towards the shore.
What, oh what, is all the meaning of this life of merely seeming?
That is what I uttered vainly as I headed towards the shore.
Uttering so vainly as I headed toward the shore.
     And I gave a mighty snore.

But no dream goes on forever, and the spirit wakes to sever
All its consciousness from dreaming so it can go on some more.
But there then will come a sleeping out of which there is no deeping.
And the body will then slumber and the breath will come no more.
At the end without a body and no breath and nothing more.
      Then will be no mighty snore.

Miso pork Ramen with seaweed and green onion. Courtesy Dinner by Dennis


Sheldon Goldfarb. Photo by Graeme Danko

Sheldon Goldfarb is the author of The Hundred-Year Trek: A History of Student Life at UBC (Heritage House, 2017), reviewed by Herbert Rosengarten. He has been the archivist for the UBC student society (the AMS) for more than twenty years and has also written a murder mystery and two academic books on the Victorian author William Makepeace Thackeray. His murder mystery, Remember, Remember (Bristol: UKA Press), was nominated for an Arthur Ellis crime writing award in 2005. His latest book, Sherlockian Musings: Thoughts on the Sherlock Holmes Stories (London: MX Publishing, 2019), was reviewed in the BC Review by Patrick McDonagh. Originally from Montreal, Sheldon has a history degree from McGill University, a master’s degree in English from the University of Manitoba, and two degrees from the University of British Columbia: a PhD in English and a master’s degree in archival studies. Editor’s note: Sheldon Goldfarb has recently reviewed books by James Gifford, Alan TwiggYosef Wosk & Nachum Tim GidalAndrew Chesham & Laura FarinaSeth Rogen, and Julia Levy.

The British Columbia Review

Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie

Formerly The Ormsby Review, The British Columbia Review is an on-line book review and journal service for BC writers and readers. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Barry Gough, Hugh Johnston, Kathy Mezei, Patricia Roy, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Provincial Government Patron (since September 2018): Creative BC. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies.

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