Tuesday Poem: How to Roast Chestnuts

Split the porcupine case
and shell them from their bed of white pith
unblemished - discarding those
already bored by worm.  Keep dry.
A roaring fire of wood, or charcoal.
Sprinkle salt till it turns blue
and sparks like a Roman Candle.
Place the chestnuts in a cast-iron pan
with holes to let in the flames
and roast until the skin blackens and
curls back from the wrinkled cerebellum
and they smell of ice fairs, hallowe’en
the street corners of a foreign town
all our northern childhoods.

© Kathleen Jones

Happy Hallowe'en everyone!  And do hop over to the Tuesday Poem hub for more contributions from the Tuesday Poets.


  1. Brings back lovely memories of 'the street corners of a foreign town' to me and the smell
    as well. I like 'curls back from the wrinkled cerebellum'...great rhythmn!

  2. What fun.
    I have always wondered about chestnuts.
    Chestnut sellers have appeared in recent years on Melbourne Streets (mostly foreign students) I don't think they do very well. Chestnuts are alien to our culture in Oz.

  3. They're such a northern thing Al. Here in Italy they have acres of sweet chestnut forest - the locals here used to all but live off them - you can make flour out of them, pickle them, preserve them in sugar, as well as roasting them. The wild boar like them as well!
    Helen - glad they brought back memories - it always means winter to me and street vendors. The smell is indescribable.


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