Foodie, or I Miss Every Hometown Cookout by KB

Fuck the presentation, I want the food to taste good. Like chopped
slop covered in barbecue sauce brisket. Like mama’s wing flings
on top of greasy paper towels with a side of somewhat burnt
sweet potatoes. I want the meal to give me -itis I can feel in my tongue;
tums needed to hush up the organs telling me I’ve made mistakes today.
None of it was a mistake, really. The only thing I regret is not asking
for extra hot sauce, extra communion with my niggas over hot plates
while barbed off in backyards with an uncle that has bunions on his toes
hollering, CAN YOU HEAR ME under the Bengay. Today, I hear you auntie.
Swearing I forgot to take the chicken out; making chitlins in a room of people
with my blood or at least best interest in their hearts. I say your name,
spaghetti & fish after a friend has went to pasture. I say your name as I look
at the coffee shop menu, wondering what has a sprinkle of spirit in it.

 

KB is a Black, queer, nonbinary miracle. They are the author of the chapbook HOW TO IDENTIFY YOURSELF WITH A WOUND (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2022), winner of the 2021 Saguaro Poetry Prize, and a 2021 PEN America Emerging Voices fellow. Follow them online at @earthtokb.

Puffy Little Pink Heart by Hannah Grieco

It’s not you, it’s me. It’s not that I don’t feel this, it’s that how I feel doesn’t matter. It’s not that I don’t like you, didn’t want this to happen, didn’t plan to get that drunk and sit in your lap and, okay, maul you in a Burger King booth in front of that family with their four small children. It’s that I really am too old to do those things and also I have two small children of my own and a husband and I can still taste the fry oil in the back of my throat and it, and you, are giving me heartburn. It’s not that me sleeping with you was symbolic of who I used to be and the way I used to act, it’s that I’ve been trying desperately to not turn into something symbolic, something comfortable, something that fits easily on a key chain, something that everyone recognizes when they see it, something sticker-like and shiny, but not too shiny, like maybe a puffy little pink heart sticker on the back of a Mother’s Day card. It’s not that me sleeping next to you wouldn’t remind me of uncomfortable, brave, unrecognizable experiences and feelings, it’s that I don’t get to do uncomfortable, brave, unrecognizable things anymore. It’s not that you aren’t pretty, because you’re so pretty, so pretty I scooted next to you on that bench and asked for one of your fries, the only vegan thing on the menu, which was why we went there in the first place, and I’d been making fun of you all night for being vegan, but actually I find it so appealing, so beautiful that someone cares that much about anything anymore. It’s not that I wouldn’t cast this all away in a minute, because I would cast this all away in a minute, in a second, so fast my entire life would be an intertwined blur of the past rapidly decomposing and you and me driving down the highway in my runaway minivan, Indigo Girls and Dar Williams and KD Lang on your shitty old iPod shuffle, your hand on the back of my neck, my hand on your knee, above your knee, the part of your knee that tickles if I squeeze even a little. My hand on your knee and my heart in my throat.

 

Hannah Grieco is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C. You can find her online at www.hgrieco.com and on Twitter @writesloud.

Arroz Con Leche by Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez

When I get lonely—I want my mother. I want her to cut my belly open and pull out a newborn version, toss away the bloodied carcass of an unrecognizable self. I want her to dive into my chest, fight the grip around my heart, and proudly proclaim my heart belongs to her. I want her to find the mouth of the river inside, threatening to burst and drown me, and sing until the waters still. When I get lonely like this, I want my mother; but I am afraid to ask for her. Afraid my longing for motherhood will create too large a ripple, waves exposing unscabbed wounds. Afraid neither has learned to swim in the vast ocean of our grief. Afraid voicing my desire for her will reveal the chasm between us as too deep, too wide, to find each other again, or, for the first time. Today, I am lonely, and I want my mother without her knowing I need her. I speak to her in a language safe for both of us: cooking. Madre mía, how do I make arroz con leche? Her carefully crafted instructions and a mándame foto, her offering. A photo of the overly sweet milky rice, my offering.

YIELDS:

4-6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (128g) of washed rice 

2 (256 g) cups of water

2 whole canela sticks

3 cups (384 g) of milk

1 can (397 g) of Lechera

2 fistfuls of raisins

INSTRUCTIONS:

Wait until loneliness has settled in your belly, carved your lining and made itself a home. Bring water with the canela sticks to a boil and notice your heart’s palpitations as the waft of the spicey scent envelops you. Pour washed rice into boiling, canela sweetened water, and allow the mixture to simmer until you recall how often your mother makes arroz con leche only because you love it. Throw raisins in the rice pot so they soften like a heart before the hurt. In a separate pot, combine milk and lechera and heat, but do not let it reach a boil. Pour warm lechera milk over rice and stir as you imagine your mother serving you arroz con leche after being away for so long. Her warm smile, her tired eyes welcoming you back. To garnish, tuck your yearnings for your mother between the soft rice and the sweet milk. Eat until full.

 

Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez is an immigrant of Juarez, Mexico and raised in Cicero, IL. Her work has been published in Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature, Hispanecdotes, Everyday Fiction, Acentos Review, Newtown Literary, So to Speak: A Feminist Journal, No Tender Fences: Anthology of Immigrant and First-Generation American Poetry, Longreads, Lost Balloon, Reflex Fiction, and Strange Horizons. Sonia’s writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Microfiction. Sonia lives and teaches in New York City.

Mojave by Sarah Hernandez

i’ve been lying here for so long
with grass peeking through my hips
and dust working into the gaps of my teeth.

the sky is so big and forgetful,
a place with no memory.
i wish i could be like that.

i hadn’t thought you meant it that time.
the swallow dives down, down, down
and never really hits the ground.

i suppose we had one last First, baby,
kept special in the sun-soaked spot,
in my overexposed skull.

you never visit like you promised.
maybe you thought i wouldn’t remember
but how could i not?

i am the gift you gave the open sky
with grit grinding my joints away,
and your love forever on my mind.

 

Sarah Hernandez is a Texas-born writer and lover of literature. Her main median is poetry, and her sources of inspiration are the forces of nature and womanhood. Her hobbies include hiking, cooking, and witchcraft and her work has previously appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. She lives in Austin, Texas.

The Allegory of the Pizzas by Lisa Richter

There were two pizzas, and we ate
neither of them because they were delivered
to the wrong address. For days we could dream
of nothing else, no matter what we stuffed
our faces with. Each pizza would have come
with its own carefully chosen toppings:
on yours, Thai chicken and crushed rose petal,
ground into a paste; on mine, picket fences
and the footprints of baby shoes.
Oh, we had other meals, ordered in
because suddenly order took on a new
importance. We took down all our books
then re-shelved them all by texture.
More than once, we declared
each other out of order and in contempt
of the court of private opinion.
Eventually, our plants had to water us.
I made a slipknot of your hunger,
slid it over my wrist. You turned mine
into a sail and resented me when the wind
puffed it over the lake. What we desired
could not fit into flat cardboard boxes.
No crust in the world could support it.

 

Lisa Richter is the author of two books of poetry, Closer to Where We Began (Tightrope Books, 2017) and Nautilus and Bone (Frontenac House, 2020), which won the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry and was longlisted for the Raymond Souster Award. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Pigeons Are Having by Sarah Sarai

Unprotected sex
on top of my
air conditioner,
upsetting most
of my flock who know
I run a moral
air conditioner
at top speed.

There’s no talking to
a pigeon.
Only arm-flappage
in a stiff wind.

I live by example which
I set.

Not in concrete with
a palm I set
nor in jello
though I swoon
at shimmerings.
Vulnerability.

Of women.

I ask pigeons
protect themselves from
the consequential and inconsequential.

I ask women.

 

Sarah Sarai is an independent editor in New York. Her poems are in Sinister Wisdom, The Southampton Review, DMQ Review, Hobo Camp Review, Barrow Street, Zocalo Public Square, and many others. That Strapless Bra in Heaven, her third poetry collection, was published by Kelsay Books in 2019. She grew up in L.A. and still checks stats for the Dodgers.

Duck Fat by Audrey Gidman

A duck makes a good gift. A dead
duck. Neck full of bones. Tender,

she says. C’est très bien. The best
part.
Her tongue slips,

even now, after so long. I ask
her if she misses France.

She hands me a duck & says
nothing. Later, in the kitchen,

I pull the wings apart at the joint,
peeling & smearing fat

& puckered skin, loosening
until they unhinge.

I slip my finger somewhere
between the sternum

& the inside of the ribs,
push through the dark hollow

of carcass & twist
the spine until it pops

at the vertebrae, body
in two. I pile

the pieces in a pot to simmer,
imagining my mother’s

hands as I work. Slender & olive-
skinned. I know she worries

I do not have enough
so she taught herself to kill. I coil

the neck around the breast,
trying to make it fit. It bends

in a way mine could. My mother
says we do what we have to do.

The word mother gets stuck
in her throat like a bone.

 

Audrey Gidman is a queer poet living in Maine. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in SWWIM, Wax Nine, The Inflectionist Review, The Shore, Luna Luna, Rogue Agent, The West Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, body psalms, winner of the Elyse Wolf Prize, is forthcoming from Slate Roof Press. Twitter // @audreygidman.

Literary Realism by Ayokunle Falomo

And then there was you who traded a kingdom he could
            not hold for a kingdom he could not hold. Inside

your left ventricle, a small village. Inside your right, a court.
            Inside the court, a court jester plays judge—his gavel

a turkey leg. Inside its marrow, a two-throated beast
            who’s made a castle for himself. Inside your hunger,
another hunger. Inside that, another. And so it goes.

            Inside the hole where your tongue once was, a cage.
            Inside the cage, a parrot that only knows to repeat
every word you’ve ever thought but never said. On the south

            side of your personal heaven, God sits on his card-
board throne & holds an avocado pit. As if it were the world.

 

Ayokunle Falomo is Nigerian, American, and the author of African, American (New Delta Review, 2019) and two self-published collections. A recipient of fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and MacDowell, his work has been anthologized and published in print and online, including Houston Public Media, The New York Times, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Texas Review, New England Review, Write About Now, among others. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from University of Houston, a Specialist in School Psychology degree from Sam Houston State University, and is currently a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where he obtained his MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry.

Dear Andrew Cunanan by Dani Putney

When you smashed
Jeff’s head in, the love
of your life’s mouth agape
across the living room,
I was there, a fourth
presence in the apartment,
learning from the greatest
sugar-daddy killer in queer
history. Though I was born

a year before in your Cali
home, my soul astral-
projected to that night
in Minneapolis, a day after
my parents’ anniversary.
Diwata carried the flame
of my spirit to you for a lesson
in balance: fire doused
in the city of water, a Filipino

embroiled in the intimacy
of white death. I fused
with you then to form a whole
person, your half of Luzon,
mine of Cebu—no need
for David, Lee, or Gianni
in our purgatory of gay
mongrelhood, our torso
clad in gilded Oroton.

Some say you were
a psycho, but I only saw you
with my baby eyes: a tempest
unstuck in American empire,
a bundle of entropy
much too premature
for the future we deserve.
In this life we’re but tiyanak,
Drew, lost in trails of blood.

 

Dani Putney is a queer, non-binary, mixed-race Filipinx, and neurodivergent writer originally from Sacramento, CA. Their poems appear in outlets such as Empty Mirror, Ghost City Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Juke Joint Magazine, and trampset, among others. They received their MFA in Creative Writing from Mississippi University for Women and are presently an English PhD student at Oklahoma State University. While not always (physically) there, they reside in the middle of the Nevada desert. Dani’s debut poetry collection, Salamat sa Intersectionality, is now available from Okay Donkey Press.