The Rise of Sugar

As a child of Illinois
Raised on black pepper,
Unaccustomed to the habaneros
Of adulthood, having not yet
Laughed through tears
With a coughing lover laboring
Over the cast iron pan,

I would pour them in—
Red Hots—to see how long
I could savor the burn
Before spitting them out
Like bloody teeth into my hand,
Before fire gave way
To the rise of sugar.


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