Thursday, August 27, 2009

Issue 3: August 27, 2009

The angle of sunlight slanting across my back yard has noticeably changed since the inception of this journal. Blackberries are hanging ripe amid a tangle of thorns and I feel a strong urge to harvest, collect, and save.

At times it seems ridiculously obvious to talk about how food is part of our lives; it's obvious we can't live without it. Yet, we can sometimes still feel a flash of shock at a reminder of how important food is in our lives, so somehow this fact does slip from our consciousness. Yes, the basic energy units and nutritional value of food are intrinsic to the continuation of our lives. Just as important to our culture and our humanity are the small rituals, each bite a celebration of life. Several pieces in this issue, particularly Barry Basden's flash fiction, "Stalingrad, Summer of '42," underscore this: food not only keeps us alive but also continues to keep us human.

This issue contains work from the following writers:

Leslie McGrath
Allen Itz
Juleigh Howard-Hobson
Neal Whitman
Kimberly Sherman
Barry Basden

Artworks are attributed individually. Enjoy!

~ Heidi Kenyon, Editor
Vashon Island, Washington
August 27, 2009

The Table

When I give the kitchen table
a good rough-up with fine
sandpaper, it stands in a circle
of dust like a horse being curried,
grain gleaming as the white cloth
makes an arc from withers
to croup. This is the stage
on which our dramas are played—
lessons with the knife and fork,
homework, late night lust.

The summer I turned fourteen,
a shy boy skimmed an index card
across the oak plain of a library table.
Amo, amas, amat, amamus
it read, conjugating his love
in a language I wouldn’t understand
for years. And even now
the schuss of paper over wood
sounds like a schoolboy’s incantation—
love’s gestures passed like food
across the table, its marks
too deeply etched to be removed.

—Leslie McGrath

This poem appeared in Connecticut Review.


He’d snuffle me like a puppy when I got home,
lick the sugar from my arms and neck
till I showered the bakery off with jasmine foam.

In our refuge of mattress and crumbling plaster, the sun
played a silent aria over the lath, and he’d picnic
on my sweet muscat, I on his Damson plum.

Afterward, the slow goodbye:
his hand atop the table of my hip, slipping
as his breathing eased, uncoupling from mine.

His sex, still reddened, hung
heavy-satisfied, while I lay widening, widening
as wine stains lace when the revelry’s done.

—Leslie McGrath

This poem appeared in Gloom Cupboard.

Leslie McGrath’s poems have appeared in Agni online, Alimentum, Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior Review, Nimrod, Poetry Ireland, and elsewhere. Winner of the 2004 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, she is the managing editor of Drunken Boat: online journal of the arts. Her first collection of poetry, Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage, is due from Main Street Rag in October 2009.

Italian Midday by Karl Briullov

care to join me for a pile of food

every once in a while
i abandon
my normal grub
of chicken fried steak
and baked potato
for some of the fancy fodder
at those restaurants
with cloth tablecloths
and no chance at all
of ketchup
unless you bring it

and i’ve noticed
over the years a trend
toward piling your
one thing
on top of another,
on top of potatoes
or rice
or pasta of some denomination
or another
and under several asparagus
or string beans

i don’t understand
how we got to this state
of affairs -
the child’s complaint
that the peas
are touching the macaroni
and he can’t possibly eat anything
because it’s touching,
on thing contaminated by the other,
to this current haute cuisine
of presenting to their diners
a pile of food in the middle of a
very large plate, most ot the plate
untouched by the food
which is piled in the middle

this is like chopsticks,
two sticks between which
you are supposed to clamp
pieces of food that includes rice
and meat or vegetables too large
to eat in one bite

the biggest question
is not
why would we would want eat this way
but why anyone
would ever think of inventing
this method in the first place - end
product of a drinking game
is my guess

the same s true of this food-piling
movement among top chefs
of the world

i don’t get it
and i don’t like it
and that’s why i just stick
to my chicken fried steak and
baked potatoes

carefully separated,
one kind
from the other

—Allen Itz

This poem appeared in Here and Now.

Allen Itz has one book out, Seven Beats a Second, and three other recently completed manuscrips he's shopping around. He publishes a weekly poetry blog, "Here and Now," that includes his work and that of other poets. His website is at

Stilleben, by Albrecht Kauw

Farm Style Pink Lemonade
A Nonet

Granulated white sugar—one cup.
Freshly squeezed lemons—ten. Enough
Water to fill two quarts up.
Add ice, lemon peel, mint
Sprigs, stir well. A hint
Of beet will tint
This pale drink

—Juleigh Howard-Hobson

This poem appeared in The Quarterly Journal of Food and Car Poems.

Juleigh Howard-Hobson's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Lyric, qarrtsiluni, Soundzine, The Raintown Review, 14 by 14, The Chimaera, Mobius, Umbrella Journal, and many other places. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where some of the best food in the world can be found.

Photo by Scott Bauer

Simple Tastes: A Quintet

awake? if so, joy
cinnamon toast and coffee
morning in bed

hot tomato chutney
on sourdough grilled cheese
lunch on the porch

there's something to be said
for buttered cracker and tea
late afternoon pick-me-up

birds atwitter
at the slap of a screen door
Brunswick stew simmering

smoky whisky in Waterford
bagpipes now sounding good
sharp night wind

—Neal Whitman

Neal Whitman, who lives in Pacific Grove, California, reads and writes poetry every day—it is not just a vitamin pill, but part of a healthy diet. Over 50 poems have been published in 27 journals... but who's counting calories?

Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup for Lunch by Patianne Stevenson


Because I just got paid
and I spent the day alone,
a day in which I
dyed my hair,
made the turkey broth, pies,
cranberry sauce and roasted garlic
for the Thanksgiving dinner
my sister will attend at my home
tomorrow, cleaned the mildew from the grout,
and washed our summer bedspread
to put it away until next April,
a day with no conflict with anyone,
just me and the cat,
because I listened to beautiful music
all day,
because the colors of things are brighter
and more vivid now than before,
because I begin to love where I live
and the inside of my home
becomes quaint rather than drab,
because I feel warm and safe and hopeful,
today, Wednesday, the day before the last
Thursday in November
is my day of thanksgiving.

—Kimberly Sherman

A poet and school bus driver in San Diego, Kimberly Sherman attended Humboldt State University (BA Anthropology) and the University of Pittsburgh (MA Linguistics). Her poems have appeared in the Journal of Formal Poetry, San Diego Poetry Annual, and Blue Collar Review.

Onions and Garlic by D. Mitrohin

Stalingrad, Summer of '42

When the bombing started they moved into the cellar and kept moving from house to house as the buildings collapsed above them. Finally the air raids stopped and Ksenia tried to get to the river but the Germans were already there, burning the boats. The river was too wide for bridges and it could not be crossed without a boat.

Coming back, she saw a dead horse in the rubble only a block away from their shelter and hurried to get Papa. After eating nothing but scorched wheat for days, they had a feast. Papa cut off a hind leg and Mama boiled the chunks of horsemeat in water from the flooded cellar next door. They had no tea and ate the meat with only more boiled water to drink. But it was wonderful.

They celebrated Ksenia's seventeenth birthday that night because it was only a week away and who knew what might happen by then. Little Mariya cried because she had no present for her big sister, but Ksenia hugged her and said her love was the best present of all.

The sisters shared a damp bare mattress on the cement floor next to a wall with a small window high up that opened onto the street. They huddled under their coats and whispered late into the night. Shadows from the fires outside flickered in the basement gloom. Next morning they wakened to the sound of troops moving above them. German voices came through the window. Mama's eyes went wide and she held her hand to her mouth for them to be silent.

They heard someone coming down the stairs. A German officer stepped through the door holding a pistol and looked at the family for a moment. They didn't move. Then he said in halting Russian, "Remain quiet. Stay off the streets. The SS are coming." He turned and went back up the stairs and they heard the soldiers go away.

Two weeks later the fighting was over in their sector. Smoke from the burning oil tanks covered the city and most buildings were in ruins. Dead bodies lay everywhere--civilians and many soldiers from both sides. The stench was terrible.

Loudspeaker trucks moved slowly through the rubble and directed all citizens to report to the German headquarters or be shot. There was no possibility of escape. Mama sliced the mold off the last of the horsemeat and they ate it raw. Then Ksenia and her family left the cellar and gathered with others in front of a grain elevator, where they registered at a table guarded by soldiers with dogs. Papa was immediately put to work collecting the dead.

After a few days Ksenia was trucked away to a camp with other young women where they were used as sex slaves by the German army. She never saw her family again and they became like a dream to her.

—Barry Basden

Some of Barry Basden's short pieces have been published online; some not. He edits Camroc Press Review.

United States Food Administration Poster, WWI


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Issue 2: August 13, 2009

This issue offers several perspectives on food's role in our political and cultural landscape. This week at my family reunion I kept thinking how far we have to go toward making food a part of our consciousness. I'm in the South, but I can't find a ripe peach to save my life. I watched 40-odd relatives consume acres of food, but none of it was produced locally--most of it was purchased in big bags or frozen boxes at the supermarket.

The sense of a place breathes out through its people through gesture and dialect; we should consider food another aspect of each region's social uniqueness. When you visit a place, don't just look at its landmarks. Visit its farmers' markets and taste the terroir of the region. Local flavor can filter down from our taste buds to our pens.

We are pleased to include work from the following writers in this issue:

Beth Winegarner
Vinnie Kinsella
Pat Tompkins
Jennifer Reich
Dashka Slater

Art is by Patianne Stevenson and Léo.

"Big Burger and Fries" by Patianne Stevenson

Fat Land

O America, o fat land,
In all your beefy cheesy glory, you are
Awash in lipidinous rivers and
Piled high with fluffed wheat rolls.

Your scar-spangled prairies
Are crawling with overfed burgers-to-be
Whose diet of grain and pharmaceuticals
Makes them long for the slaughterhouse.

God bless your powerhouse factories
Where dye is added to plastic
Manufactured to taste and feel like cheese
On the tongues of those who know no better.

Stripes and stripes of lettuce icebergs
(The only kind that don't melt these days)
Sprout from your starved soil,
Where pale tomatoes tumesce nearby.

The only thing fast about this
Assemblage of ingredients
Glued together behind tin counters
Is the swindle that this is food.

Your citizens grow slow and sick
From sea to grease-slicked sea.

—Beth Winegarner

Beth Winegarner is the author of Sacred Sonoma, Beloved, and Read the
Music. Her poems have appeared in Tertulia, Bardsong, Hot Metal Press,
Lime Green Bulldozers, and Dispatch. She lives in San Francisco with
her partner and daughter.

The Sound a Side Dish Makes

French fries incubating in the oven chirp
like newly hatched chicks.

Another reason to avoid fried food.

—Vinnie Kinsella

The Signs

Sea Salt & Vinegar Kettle Chips.
Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy.
Pride & Prejudice DVD.

Tonight, the remote is hers.

—Vinnie Kinsella

Redheaded Flavoring

No palate for my paprika,
She craves instead the blandness
Of his salt and pepper hair.

—Vinnie Kinsella

Repeat Relationship

Mid-bite I pause.
A brownie, a cookie, a scone, a blonde—
It doesn't matter:
The ingredients are the same.

—Vinnie Kinsella

Vinnie Kinsella lives in a world of words. He is the owner of Declaration Editing & Design, the publisher of Four and Twenty, and an instructor in the Master’s in Writing and Publishing Program at Portland State University. His writing experiments can be found on his blog,

"Chocolate Chippers and Milk" by Patianne Stevenson

Italian Strawberries

Picking fruit is a primal pleasure, delicious and free. If an abundance of summer fruit burdens a friend of a friend with a garden or orchard, I make jam with it —plum, apricot, whatever's available. As an apartment dweller without a garden, I depend on the generosity of those who garden for bags of lemons or pears. In my experience, gardeners are liberal in sharing roses, peppers, and peaches they've grown. Maybe with the bounty of a garden, I'd be more magnanimous. If I ever get to have a garden of my own, I like to think I'd be as generous as the Italian family whose garden I visited more than 25 years ago.

I was a college student in Florence during April and May, studying Renaissance art and cosmology. When I wasn't dealing with Botticelli, Dante, and Galileo, I was coping with the less-lofty new world of contemporary Italy. Our group of 22 students from Midwestern colleges lived at the top of an 83-step walk-up pensione at the intersection of five streets, in the city's center. In addition to a recalcitrant hot water system and a curtainless shower that flooded the bathroom, I was adjusting to breakfast and dinner at the pensione. Most of the students slept in rather than bother with the breakfast, which consisted, without fail, of cups of yogurt (tutti-frutti was popular), hard, flavorless white rolls, and the only bad coffee in Italy. (I believe the city got its water from the muddy Arno River; whatever the source, the water was also tinting our laundry green.) Cold curls of butter and plastic packets of jam added nothing to what we called pigeon rolls; that's all they were good for: lobbing at the pigeons so plentiful in the city. I didn't miss the ubiquitous American glass of orange juice, but I was accustomed to more variety. Dinner was a substantial improvement over breakfast: a thin soup, unsalted, chewy bread, and pasta, with minor variations, such as the addition of cooked spinach. Dessert was fruit: baskets of mealy apples and blood oranges, which I'd never eaten before. No one wanted the apples; speed was essential if you hoped to snare an orange.

Coming from California, I was used to more fruits and vegetables, so I often visited Florence's outdoor market, where I bought brown paper cones of raisins. Coming from a college in the middle of Iowa cornfields, I wasn't used to such an urban environment. Florence has an overabundance of beautiful buildings, statues, and other public art, but I don't recall any trees in the heart of the city. The Boboli Gardens across the river offered a highly manicured green retreat, far too formal for my taste. So when we had a field trip one day that included a surprise stop, you could say I was ripe for the opportunity.

Our day excursions by bus generally took us to other Tuscan towns—Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa—to admire their churches and art. On our return from Lucca, our professore, an American of Italian heritage, announced that we would be visiting a family he knew in a small town. We stepped off the bus into a sunny May afternoon. Near the road was a small strawberry patch, maybe 50 feet square, with carefully weeded rows of plants. The ground was the same gold-tinged terra cotta as the Palazzo Strozzi across from our humble pensione. When we met the Italian family, they told us we could help ourselves to their strawberries—an instant U-Pik-Em 'n' Eat-Em experience. There may have been some miscommunication; perhaps we were invited only to sample a fragola or two.

Bending and squatting, we plucked the warm, fragrant berries, and plucked and ate and plucked and ate. To the Italians, it must have resembled an attack of a murder of crows, disguised in blue jeans. In short time, we had reduced the strawberry patch to green leaves. This is not surprising when you consider that half our group consisted of insatiable omnivores, a.k.a.19-year-old guys, but all of us were hungry for fresh fruit. Our professor apologized for our voracious behavior, but the Italians seemed to appreciate our enthusiasm for their strawberries. Or perhaps they were simply polite. I don't recall the name of the church we visited in Lucca or, unfortunately, the name of the family whose strawberry patch we wiped out. But I remember those berries. Someday, when I have a garden—and I will—I think that when I invite students to help themselves, I'll limit it to one student at a time.

—Pat Tompkins
This essay appeared in Unholy Biscuit and Square Table.

Pat Tompkins is an editor in the San Francisco Bay Area (aka Food Central). Her poems and fiction have appeared in
Mslexia, Bellevue Literary Review, bottle rockets, Astropoetica, and other publications.

Toast: A Tribute

I like toast.
It’s simple but you can dress it up
With butter or jam
Or sugar and spices
A dollop of cream cheese
Is one of my vices—
But the smell is what calls me
To wait by the toaster
Leaving my coffee alone on the coaster
And breathing in the scent of love—
That overshadows any romantic notion
For the warm crispy goodness is my love potion—
So I savor my toast until the last crumb
Licking the jelly that is stuck on my thumb
And alas I am ready to start a new day
With my new morning mantra
Yes, toast is the way.

—Jennifer Reich

Jennifer Reich MA, MS, ANP-BC, ACHPN is an Adult Nurse Practitioner certified in Hospice and Palliative Care. She uses her diverse experience to design wellness programs and teach self-care strategies to nurses throughout the country. Her passion is exploring healing through story and reflection.

"Pear" by Léo

Too Late

This pear will not improve.
Its flesh is crystally in parts,
elsewhere slobbery and soft.
The skin puckers around the stem:
a sphincter of resignation.

Day after day I have examined it
and then returned it to the bowl.
At picking, it was coppery
and smelled like summer light.
Now its skin is daubed with cankers
and smells of sweet decay.

And so, I lay the pear
down among the eggshells,
weeds and coffee grounds
in the compost bin’s black heat.
Come summer, it will nourish my tomatoes.
Think of it as a second chance.

—Dashka Slater

Victory Garden

Three weeks before the war began, two weeks
of freezing weather blackened leaves and stems
and bit hard at my garden’s needled roots.

Each day the news proclaimed
(between accounts of soldiers setting off)
this month’s cold the worst we’d ever had.

In my yard, frost burned lemons’ waxy hides
into burred white beehives and avocados
curled up like pill bugs.

By the day the war began, the cold was gone.
I remember walking that afternoon
(as black jets slit the face of Baghdad’s

moonless night), sliding sweater sleeves
elbow-high. How the air reeked
of cotton and winter blossoms.

Three nights after the war began, the wind
hurtled down these streets like someone running
away from fire. By morning, a drift of frost-bleached

leaves had made sand dunes of my yard.
Since the war, I have weeded, raked, and dug
the ground until my palms were bruised. Today

I lay tulip bulbs, squat and round as hearts,
in a bone-meal powdered trench. An erect
green stem pokes from each tuber’s brown, eager

and indelicate as a young boy’s cock.
I cover them with dirt. Dead men, dead boys,
half buried in sand. Arrogant green stems

have nothing to do with it. They died
uncounted, on a pocked and surly field.
Tonight rain comes at last.

Already the cold has been forgotten.

—Dashka Slater
Victory Garden was first published in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review.

Dashka Slater's poetry has appeared in such magazines as
the new renaissance, Descant, The Beloit Poetry Journal, and Blue Unicorn. She is the author of a novel, The Wishing Box, and three books for children: Baby Shoes; Firefighters in the Dark; and The Sea Serpent and Me. Learn more at

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Inaugural Issue: August 1, 2009

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Eat Your Words: A Journal of Food Literature. It's our goal to provide a satisfying combination of food and literature.

This first issue is heavy on the poetry, but we'll be seeing more prose—both fiction and nonfiction—in the future.

In this issue:

Pat Tompkins
Pearl Pirie
Steve Klepetar
Leslie Greenwood
Marjolaine Hébert
Lucille Gang Shulklapper
Michael J. Farrand

Our visual artist for this issue is Patianne Stevenson, who paints food and also creates food sculpture out of recycled cardboard. Her gallery is available to view at, and her pieces are available for purchase at Please visit Patianne online and check out her other work!

Photos in this issue are taken by Eat Your Words' editor, Heidi Kenyon.

Enjoy this delicious repast!

Kitchen Massacre

She guillotines tender young okra,
chops onions and cooks them until they wilt,
heats tomatoes, the better to skin them.

She plunges ears of corn into boiling water,
cores a head of pale green cabbage,
all for a simple summer dinner.

She's a vegetarian, the ethical
nonviolent kind.

—Pat Tompkins

This poem appeared in T-Zero.

at the kitchen sink
I split the pomegranate
juicy red popcorn:
a well-named fruit rich in myth
and antioxidants

—Pat Tompkins

This tanka appeared in red lights.

Pat Tompkins is an editor in the San Francisco Bay Area (aka Food Central). Her poems and fiction have appeared in
Mslexia, Bellevue Literary Review, bottle rockets, Astropoetica, and other publications.

after a week of chocolate withdrawal

curious, standing three-quarter turned from him
backlit in a sunshine space, his hand cupped a shape
a sickle thwacked the passion fruit that dream dubbed
cocoa pod, cracked the shell as a lobster mantle,
plasma welled, he called it wound juice, tipped it
drank it sap sweet, licked his lip, offered it to my
shaken head,

he broke into the fruit, pulled the halves, scooped
the pulpy black meat with a metal paddle, worked it
back and forth on a soapstone slab, sunlight from
sudden clerestory, room rough-hewn limestone large
the sibilant slaps works out the 3 layers of the bean,

one thick as lotus paste, a humus blackness, he laid
a dab on the end of the paddle, offered me, at a pinch
my hairline tingled, at tongue complexity of flowers,
smoke, bitter grainy undernote, behind it, slow release
so tender my frame tightened in fear of it, recaptured
too much of my own breath, felt a dizziness compel exit

I stayed, still his slap and from the compound
the thickest was all worked out, slid to one side
mounds of coffee black, almost dry cocoaed clay
while from the smoothening brown separated the
last of slow of warm golden honey run, nose humming

tactile energy field topaz growing towards his
swelling mist of burnt umber wrinkled sweat
where the two heats met between our sides
I dipped a cautious finger to the stone, watching
his face gave permission of slow eye crease smile,
the honey-whey of viscous cocoa rolled my head,

stoically refused to eye the caramel cream of melting
mid density, still he swayed his glinting blade working
loose more of the last two grades and I could feel
the ceiling of the room rise, an aria of skylights.

—Pearl Pirie

Pearl Pirie writes from Ottawa, Canada in various blogs including Humanyms, Pesbo, and for the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter. Her last chapbook was oath in the boathouse (above/ground press 2008) and her next chapbook is due out this fall from AngelHouse Press.

Revenge is a Dish

¼ cup harm
2 tsp hurt
1 tbsp finely chopped wrong
dash injury to taste
½ cup grated satisfaction
(may substitute retaliation if sharper flavor desired)
1lb lean, boneless retribution, trimmed
2 cups low fat chastisement
6 medium curses
½ cup oaths
1 large malediction, peeled, seeded and quartered.

In a large lead mixing bowl, combine harm, hurt, wrong, and grated satisfaction. Sprinkle with a dash of injury. Mix with wooden spoon, riding crop, or bludgeon until well blended. Mixture should be smooth and blood red. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Cube retribution and stir fry over medium heat until pink in the middle, about 2 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

Stir in chastisement. Add curses one by one, stirring rapidly, until a thin glaze appears, about 3 minutes. Stir in oaths. Bring mixture to boil and let simmer 35 minutes or until retribution is tender. Let cool to room temperature.

Remove harm-satisfaction mixture from refrigerator and gradually add to retribution. Make sure all the cubes are completely covered. Add quartered malediction to each of the cardinal points. This is best done at full moon, but any midnight will suffice.

Invite exactly the right guest (s). Salt to taste. Chill and serve cold.

—Steve Klepetar

Rub This Poem With Garlic

And roast slowly on a spit.
Collect the juices in a small, shallow pan.
Let them swell and deepen like an artificial lake.

If you stand alone, sip cool water, let your visions
rise and braid in summer thick air:

a golden dragon with an emerald eye, forests
trembling in a black fist
of storm,
palominos slow and lazy on a meadow
bright with clover and Queen Anne’s Lace.

Baste with a long-handled brush.
Make easy, sweeping strokes, as if your body
were the pigment, your fine hands a blazing spirit’s
skin. Breathe the darkening smoke,
let your dolphin eyes swell and burn with tears.

—Steve Klepetar

This poem appeared in Words on Paper.

Steve Klepetar teaches literature and writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota, where he eats lots of hot dish to keep warm in winter. He is a four time Pushcart Prize nominee.


Green glistens from misted leaves crisp
Among aisles of summertime produce.
Squash a pale butter yellow beside
The waxen sheen of green zucchini, carrots
A smart complement to snappy celery.

Purple plums and ruby cherries demand
Royal prices for their season, and corn
Is not much cheaper by the dozen.
Bananas stacked like baseball gloves
Palm empty cups near tiers
Of oranges arrayed on bleachers. Lemons
Bright as buttercups conjure pitchers
Of porch lemonade without the pucker.

Summer grins in wide-mouthed
Watermelon, blushes from fuzzed cheeks
Of peaches, refreshes in cool sherbet melons.
Tiny and blue, they can be easily overlooked.
Once we hung coffee cans from string
Around our necks, freeing both hands to work.
Mosquitoes circled and raised scarlet welts,
But we slapped and persisted, until our lips
Were stained a satisfied deep blue.

—Leslie Greenwood

Leslie Greenwood has a B.S. degree in Pharmacy and maintains her connection to the arts through theater and writing. She has published freelance articles and completed a children's chapter book. Online, she is published at The Green Tricycle.

My passion's fruit

I pick the one ripe avocado
nearly black in a sea of grassy greens

I squeeze, salivate this timely promise,
the taste of fruit and nut as
smooth as butter on my tongue

I will serve it on a bed of green leaves
dappled with kumquat, sliced blackberries,
black peppercorns, crushed

I will baptize it in balsamic vinegar
and feast on the small true pleasure
that life affords me today.

—Marjolaine Hébert

Marjolaine Hébert is a writer, poet, narrator and literacy advocate. She fills her creative well in the rich prairie land she calls home (Winnipeg, MB). Marjolaine chooses to share her creative process by using the Internet as her workspace for pieces in progress. You can follow her works at

Rice Soup: Kitchen Credo of the Little Cook

In the 1940s, when I was ten,
mother tied a faded apron
over my school dress. In her hands
a box of rice contained the contents
of my life. Kernels rattled like truth
in fairytales from the cardboard box
into the Pyrex measuring cup.
One cup of rice cooks to three or four cups.

Two quarts of water tapped
from the faucet, first measured, then poured
into the dented, aluminum pot
mother scrubbed with Brillo
until it shone,
the way her face used to glow.
Too much water: soggy, gummy rice,
Too little, dry.

My stubby fingers pushed
in the knob on the gas burner, held it,
turned it until the blue flame rose.
The water came to a rolling boil,
all bubbly and steamy,
the way my mother used to be.
Drop the washed rice into the boiling water.

We watched the clock, leaning
on the pink formica counter, edged
in stainless steel, playing our favorite word game:
Ghost, while I thought about my father,
resting upstairs, after his heart attack,
the real ghost, not the game.
Boil rapidly fifteen to twenty minutes.

Mother stooped, then lifted her double-boiler
from the wooden shelf in the white-painted cabinet.
When the water boiled, I set the rice over it.
We covered it with the striped dishtowel
I used to dry when mother washed.
Set over boiling water until fluffy.

We filled a soup bowl with the rice,
added warmed milk, a tablespoon of sugar,
a dash of cinnamon. I carried it
on a tray to my father, while mother
stayed downstairs. I watched him eat
every morsel. He asked for a little more.
I understood what he wanted.
Always measure, carefully.
Season to taste and serve immediately.

—Lucille Gang Shulklapper

This poem appeared in
Peninsula Pulse.

A Workshop Leader for The Florida Center for the Book and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Lucille Gang Shulklapper writes fiction and poetry. Her work appears in many publications, as well as in four poetry chapbooks: What You Cannot Have; The Substance of Sunlight; Godd, It’s Not Hollywood; and In The Tunnel.

English Three Fruit Marmalade

English three fruit marmalade
Lazy teatimes in sunny Somerset
Though memories of childhood may fade
These one can never forget.

—Michael J. Farrand

Michael J. Farrand has never actually tasted English three-fruit marmalade, but as a poet he could not pass up writing about it. He's the author of the "international farce" Heaven and Hell which turns on the wonders of British cuisine. More of his poems on food can be found at

Thank you for reading. We encourage you to return in a few weeks for another serving!