Black Bottom Biscuits

a-just us kids 2 (2)Mom turned out to be a pretty good cook, but when we were young she was definitely in the learning process; trial and error, unfortunately for us, was the method she used. Looking back, we can laugh about the things she did, but back then, there was often looks of startled amazement on four young faces as the dishes were set before us. And, occasionally, there was an interesting one word song sang in harmony; “GAK!”

Black Bottom Biscuits

 Black bottom clouds

Hang low in the sky

Smiling, I think of Mom’s biscuits

It was the oven’s fault


The humidity has to be ninety-eight

Eight o’clock in the morning

And it’s already eighty degrees

Tropical, or sub-so at least


Feels like rain

Thunder rolls to the north

Distant, like a bowling ball in the gutter

At closing time on Monday night


A spattering of raindrops

Flutter across the sidewalk

Like magic, the wet spots vanish

Before I step on them


Just cut the bottom off, she says

Laughing with her eyes

The gravy’s good, but um… Mom

What’s up with these potatoes?


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn



  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    She is an awesome cook now! But you’ll have to share the fudge story some time; that one is a hoot and and a half! As for the poem, I loved it! the imagery was very cool.

  2. haha this made me smile a bit…and i am glad that she learned over time…just cut the bottoms off…my mom once held together a cake with toothpicks and forgot to take them out…lol

    • Wait til you hear about the fudge!
      Thanks for stopping by, Brian. I’ll pay you a visit this afternoon!

  3. aprille said

    I’ll be back for the fudge too, but will wait till it is a tyouch cooler where you are. Rain anyone? We’ve got plenty.

    • No rain here, but a good chance of a shower this afternoon/evening. All things considered–especially compared to last years drought–we’ve done well in the moisture department this spring and summer. Can’t complain, but will take more!

  4. You know its funny, when I was a small boy I loved to eat the burned part on the bottom every time my mom made rice.I’ve since heard the burned part is supposed to be full of yang! Cool poem!

  5. This made me smile–when my mom burned the meat which was often–she called it char-broiled–Gak!

    • I’ve heard that one before! I laughed the first time I saw “blackened” whatever on a menu. I thought, “So, now it’s fashionable? Who knew?”
      Also reminds me of how my step dad always like to do woodworking projects; if he’d mess up, and something came out looking a bit rough, he’d say, “Oh, I was going for the “rustic” look.”

  6. My mum was a ‘throw it all in’ never followed a recipe kind of cook and I loved all of her meals, I don’t ever remember her making any disasters.
    Loved this Charles!

    • I kinda do it like yer mum; I follow the recipe at first, but once I’m familiar with it, I start experimenting. My expeperiments are usually pretty darn good, too!

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  8. tashtoo said

    Charles! Again with the smiles! My mom and your mom need to be getting together on those biscuits…the black bottoms…and some wicked gravy to dip them in. Fantastic share for me here today…something I’m getting used to 🙂

    • Mom’s a good cook now, but like I said, we we’re her test subjects.
      Glad you enjoyed this one!

  9. This was an awesome poem! And I love your explanatory notes at the beginning and end. I know poetry is supposed to stand on its own, and this poem easily could, but I like a little backstory, a glimpse into the thought processes of the poet that worked towards the end product. Peace, Linda

  10. Pats Devotions said

    Hi Charles; I can relate to that biscuit thing.. Good post my friend..Blessings.. Bro Pat.

  11. Louise said

    lol…this made me smile & at the fact you remembered the story from seeing the heavy clouds. A very positive outlook..much enjoyed this 🙂

    • I have logged the sight of black bottom clouds vs black bottom biscuits for years; finally put it to paper!

  12. Reminded me of my mom when we were growing up too ~ But since it home made, we just dug in and cover it with sugar or milk or whatever we can find ~ Enjoyed it ~

    • Well, we usually ate whatever Mom fixed, but sometimes… well it just couldn’t be done!

  13. Your images are always so clear, Charles. I love the bowling ball in the gutter simile.

  14. Truedessa said

    Hi, This brought a smile to my face..funny how you took a memory and turned it into an amusing poem.

  15. Gay said

    Great poem and a tribute in its way. I love to eat but never was much of a cook..probably contributed to the men in my life becoming gourmet cooks. There’s an art to inspiring that too! (smiles)

  16. hedgewitch said

    Biscuits are *hard*! Especially mine–I make my husband make those, he’s ace at it. I loved this Charles–and its a very lilting piece just as a poem, especially the middle two descriptive stanzas–but it also brought back memories of some of the food nightmares of my own childhood. Not only did my mother not deal well with cooking, she had a hard time discerning when milk was sour and things were moldy. Dinner was always an adventure, and we are an incredibly hardy bunch that survived. ;_).

    • I make a mighty fine batch of biscuits myself.
      Yep, we had some pretty good adventures, too!

  17. ayala said

    I am glad that she tried and that she got good at it 🙂

  18. Oh, can I relate! Wonderful title and poem 🙂 Memory lane here.

  19. claudia said

    trial and error is not a bad method to learn….just saying..and somehow the whole poem smelled of burnt cookies…made me smile…

    • No burnt cookies here! (today) Yes, trial and error is great, when you have four hungry kids to experiment on!!

  20. A delightful poem Charles, brings back all kinds of memories of cooking disasters from the kitchen of yours truly…usually when my minds not on the job!

  21. I chuckled. It gets me thinking about when I was a kid and had to start cooking for myself (and it turns out I’m a really good cook). Thanks for sharing this piece, Charles – I love it! 😀

    • Yes, those were the days. Talk about trial and error!
      Glad you enjoyed this one, Bradley.

  22. Laurie Kolp said

    My mom is a black-bottom chef, too… biscuits, cookies, you name it. Sometimes I think it’s the pan. ; )

  23. Old Ollie said

    this is my main cooking secret

  24. Chazinator said

    “Cut the bottom off.” I remember that one for sure. I even used it with my kids when my culinary delights did not go so well. This brings back some cherished memories. Thank you once again.

  25. I’m the latest in a generation of biscuit burners! But i bake a decent cake so I redeem myself a little. Love how the black bottom clouds got this one started, lovely link up.

  26. poemsofhateandhope said

    Ha- I had such a huge smile across my face after reading this- love how you connect something seemingly unrelated to your mothers cooking!…yet somehow- I get it….the black bottom clouds- the burnt biscuits, the humidity (the heat of the oven maybe?)…and the end just had me howling …. Reminds me of my mother in law…this poem is just so right in every way!

    • it’s one of those writes that just came out that way, Stu. I really had no conscious thoughts of how or why I was saying the things I was saying, other than I was talking about the weather. I’d been hanging onto that black bottom cloud/black bottom biscuits reference for years, and finally found a spot for it. And, when I came to the end, the last staanza just rolled out of my head into the gutter; bounced back onto the lane; hit the head pin square and left a solid 7-10. So I yelled field goal, and posted that baby!

  27. chris said

    Love this one. Can just picture those biscuits as clear as I see the clouds you describe. Can’t wait to read about the fudge.

  28. Shawn said

    When I think of childhood I am always reminded of the meals my mother made, from the vegetable soup to oven baked bread. Lazy summer days when I was eight and had nothing to do. I loved how you transitioned from one topic to the other.

    And you were spot on with your read of my poem. Thanks for posting.

  29. Reblogged this on Marbles In My Pocket ~ The Official Blog of Charles L. Mashburn ~ Poems, Short Stories, and random thoughts from the author of "Be Still… and know that I am God" and commented:

    I wrote this four years ago. Came across it this morning, and it made me smile. I hope you like it, too.

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