June is the month when a relatively short growing season begins for wild strawberries, and it is the reason its larger hybrid began showing up in green houses and markets all around the world, so we could enjoy them much longer. Though not as sweet as the original wild small variety it signifies the full moon of the summer.
In 1551 the Spanish after visiting the America’s, they introduced strawberries to Europe, and today are still celebrated in May-June with a Strawberry Train, and are not only found in desserts but are eaten in many savory recipes and beverage concoctions.
The estate of dueña sold me her home,
swarthy heirs loaded treasure in their Chevy
galleon, bequeathed me trash.
The home needs work; they all do.
Fix up old life, throw dead flowers,
haul worn shoes and chipped old plates.
Sweep space for rent.
After my granddad died of drink, and Russians
killed their dog in space, my Nana
drove her Belair Chevrolet, scrubbing houses
and motels, guarding the mahogony bowl of wax
fruit as relics on her dining table, sacred
space where no one ever ate except
on high holidays and wakes.
My brother and I of fidgety hands
could never leave them alone.
I dropped the banana as he grabbed
from me, split one end. We dented
the red apple, tore plastic leaves bound
to green rubber Riesling, scratched
the orange to see if color ran clear through.
They looked like Carmen Miranda’s hat
in a hurricane, detritus in the Haitian bowl
that rested on her altar; for twenty years,
until Nana passed she carefully dusted them.
Wax fruit was left behind in senora’s house
cracked and dented, scratched but clean
until I tossed them on the bed
of my rusty Chevy pickup truck.
Tyson West is a Spokane Washington poet- “My day job in real estate merely supplements the treasure I make writing poetry. My day job provides much bizarre and useful material –the reality of people living private lives. I have published non-fiction.” His poetry can be found in Spoke Magazine, Cowboy Poetry Press, dm de jour, and other on-line journals. This poem is from his book ‘Home-Canned Forbidden Fruit’ and is available on-line.
(after the painting by Salvador Dalí)
Come autumn the feast begins
the revelers dine on severed limbs
the hearts of the young
who sacrifice the coming spring
that we survive the winter’s appetite.
It is harvest time when we capture
the taste of surrender in our mouths
and feel a fresh awakening
for blood and meat.
in the fall we fill our souls
with the livers of our enemies
who give us victory and life
to live and fight another day
Neil Ellman has been twice nominated for Best of the Net, as well as for the Rhysling Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association, Neil Ellman writes from New Jersey. Hundreds of his poems, many of which are ekphrastic and written in response to works of modern and contemporary art, appear in print and online journals throughout the world. His first full-length collection, Parallels, is a selection of more than 200 of his previously published works.
Our wooden table is set with earth,
platters of baked clay, laden with light
absorbed and reflected, wait
before us in ordinary display.
Let us take a moment for time,
for light captured by leaf
and flower, for rain on the tongue
of the stalk and dirt in the hair of the root.
Our feast is made of light and dirt,
of shining ties of earth and rain.
This food we take into our body
took time in the light,
and now becomes us.
bejeweled with blossom,
color of flower becomes
color of flesh within.
Rows and columns assembled,
brigades rooted against transience
stand in perfected trim, suckers snipped,
cross branches cut, an open airy
display of chlorophyll.
Another untended grove down the hill
bristles unpruned, fruitless save for a rotted brown
runt or two buried in a dense tangle of twigs,
obscured in gnarled and graceless limbs.
Cutting allows fruit this flowering.
Absence creates the presence
for a trituration in time’s gears,
in light of the sun, as space opens
to being and matter enters emptiness.
PHIL BOIARSKI was born in Wheeling, W. Va. in 1945. His chapbook Coal & Ice was published by the now defunct Yellow Pages Press in 1980. A second edition is now available on Amazon. He has also collaborated with other artists to produce poetry, performance and multimedia work, including “Cornered” a three-dimensional poem created with paper artist D. Lipetz and published by art bookmaker, the Logan Elm Press and several works for the theater.
Boiarski has published poems and stories for nearly fifty years in small magazines and literary journals. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, The California Quarterly, The Rocky Mountain Review, Aspen Anthology, Indiana Writes, The Ohio Journal, The Minnesota Review, Green House, Handbook, and online @blackcatpoems, kritya.com.
He earned a BA from The Ohio State University and an MFA from Goddard College, in the program now associated with Warren Wilson College. Most recently, his work was featured in Nowa Okolica Poetow, a Polish literary journal; OFF_Anthologie, an international journal published in London and Warsaw; and The Tangled Bank, Love, Wonder & Evolution, an Australian Anthology honoring Darwin’s Bicentennial.
Spearing Cheese Puffs
first, press a coffee stirrer
against a cheese puff ball
at the tangential face
facing towards you, and rotate it
until it penetrates a quarter inch
then you can
move up to poking the cheese puff
some will succumb quickly
to a poke at a point
facing into the stirrer
others will deflect the point
and jump sideways,
putting fluorescent orange
greasebits on your pants
you must consider
the bumps facing away from you,
the obstinate cheese puff’s
base of support
to get to know
these difficult cheese puffs,
study their motion
just as they settle down
in the bowl
and tomato soup
on a cold rainy day,
in second grade.
Jodi’s mom smiles
as I discover the surprise,
as I stretch my first melted munster
across the cut, two feet.
As I tangle the stretched
cheese together and smile.
She’s been asking
Jodi’s classmates over a lot.
I think she’s addicted
to that munster smile.
You see, in Portland
it hasn’t stopped
raining for weeks.
Jim Knowles is from Andover, Mass. Poems have appeared in Mipoesias’ Best of Cafe Cafe, From East to West, The Inkwell Journal and The Ranfurly Review. He won first prize in the 2010 Poetry Superhighway Contest and second in the 2010 Inkwell Competition. He attends Frost ‘Hoots’ and the Grey Court Poets. The books “Tahki” and “Night Hawks” can be found at www.blurb.com
Singing on the rooftop to
His sweetheart in another land
Another dilapidated palace of dreams
Living the anguish and disappointment
Of separated hearts
Languished in the heat of the day
And the terror of the sun
And the purple howls of
A crying fallen star that crosses their lives
Passes through time
And cuts through any crevasse
While the butter and the flour
Sizzle on her hands,
She ponders the chill on her neck
And the unusual song in her mind
Denise Janikowski-Krewal is a Midwestern poet and writer of short fiction. She currently lives in the Milwaukee, WI area, and can be found at “the lost beat” where she collaborates with her cousin and fiction writer Tom Janikowski. Original poem was published in Tuck Magazine, November 2013.
I bake bread–when cut,
good for birds and beggars,
What does a bag lady do
all day? What goodies
jostle in her bundles?
If I were a bag lady
I’d find a tree
and sit beneath its branches
until the birds forget to be afraid
while I unpack a shopping bag of poems.
My father’s fear and maybe hope
was that he’d be a bum—
his word—so down and out
he wouldn’t have to shave,
so lost he’d live inside
the bag of his untidy body.
My bread feeds me
in many ways: the sweet
smell of the rising dough
the color of the crust
assures the eye, the crunch
when the knife begins
to slice the soft interior
firm enough for jam—
such simple goodness.
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Judith Behar, a retired lawyer, lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. The volunteer publicity director for Writers Group of the Triad, her poems have appeared in several magazines and anthologies, including Crucible, Main Street Rag, Fire and Chocolate, and WordWorks.
O cacao-tree −
Who made thee South of the Border −
What seeds dissolve in Mexico,
The milk or water boiling
Cacao-fruit sweetened with vanilla?
Paul’s Hill − Elysium’s Chocolate House −
Where Mama Maytle made her pie −
1 small Carnation Milk
2 tablespoons Flour
½ cup Water
3 tablespoons Cocoa
1 teaspoon Vanilla
¼ stick Margarine
And there − that taste − how could it happen?
Oh Mama said if I’d be good she’d send me down the hill to Mr. Charlie’s Store
She said she’d make a chocolate pie if I would screen the kitchen door
She said if I would grass the peas and burn the trash real slow
She would let me buy some Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
And so I minded her and she made me that custard pie
And I walked alone to Mr. Charlie’s Store − he said, “You again – umph!”
I bought a Mary Jane with a penny I found on the shoulder
And I got that cocoa and when I walked back up the hill I must tell you I got bolder
I threw a rock at a snake, regretted that −
The rest of the way home up Paul’s Hill I carried a stick − one big and fat
I almost got lost, then found, for when I turned up the path home I could smell it −Mama Maytle
Had set a big, hot piece of her chocolate pie at my place at the table
I’m telling you: my corner-chair seemed higher than high
All because of my mama Maytle’s homemade chocolate pie
Shelby Stephenson is TBA
Toasting My 20 Piswilly Laps
This is what happens when one falls off the wagon
after trying to lose weight by swimming too hard
and eating too sensibly. One wants to eat EVERYTHING in sight
including the table and the tablecloth. One even writes an Ode to toast.
I drop two slices of toast
into the silver plane
that whisks them off to a beach
from where they return,
tanned to a crisp
They pop out of the toaster,
craning to see who is waiting
on the runway;
lush avo is there,
to lavish them in hugs,
salt and pepper to shower them
and a handkerchief
of Jalapeno chilies
to mop their jubilant tears
As I sip my early morning tea
I feel like the walrus
knowing full well
that I am going to eat them
after their wonderful getaway,
from the boring breadbin,
to warmth and bliss
and aromatic tans …
I take the first bite
and remember how the walrus
lured the oysters from their bed
for “A pleasant walk,
a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach”
only to devour them …
and I feel walrus whiskers
sprouting from my cheeks
I won’t look in the mirror,
I shall simply lick them
with great relish,
and some shock,
if they are indeed there,
and consider it collateral damage
for an over-fertile imagination
Clarissa McFairy aka Clare van der Gaast is a South African journalist/columnist whose hobbies include writing short stories and poetry, for anthologies, at home and abroad. She writes under her pen name, Clarissa McFairy, when waxing poetic on line, mostly for the international poetry salon, Vox Poetica. Her poetry appears in some of its anthologies and she was one of the Vox Poetica 2012 Best of the Net nominees. She says she writes as the muse grabs her and whirls her around the dance floor of life. She has a passion for languages, and French, especially is music to her ears.
Clarissa wears three hats, one for writing, one for painting (mermaids and angels) and one (bathing cap) for swimming. She says she has the culinary skills of a sea cucumber, and never imagined any of her poems landing in a cookery magazine. Her favourite quotation is from Sealskin Trousers, a short story by Eric Linklater. This is about a couple who meet on a rocky ledge leading down to the sea, an “oceanic gazebo”, where they read. The woman goes there one day to meet him, and finds a half man half seal there instead. He gives her a huge fright when he plummets into the water to catch a crab … here is what the seal/man tells her :
“We have some advantages over human beings, you know. Human beings have to carry their own weight about, and they don’t know how blissful it is to be unconscious of weight: to be wave-borne, to float on the idle sea, to leap without effort in a curving wave, and look up at the dazzle of the sky through a smother of white water, or dive so easily to the calmness far below and take a haddock from the weed-beds in a sudden rush of appetite.” Clarissa says she, personally, has never done that, but it bedazzles her every time she reads it! And puts her off Woolies (Woolworths) fast-food boxes.
Saved by Oysters in the South
My copy of The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, & How We Learn to Eat [http://www.amazon.com/dp/1611800145] arrives in the mail on the Friday before the spring equinox. Friday is named after Freya, the Norse goddess of love who adores music and spring flowers.
I open the joyful orange book and turn to the book’s first essay, “Still Life on the Half-Shell” by K.G. Schneider. I am expecting the first essay to be about mothering since the volume’s editors are mother writers. Caroline Grant is Editor-in-Chief at Literary Mama [http://www.literarymama.com], and Lisa Catherine Harper is the author of the award-winning memoir, A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood [http://www.amazon.com/Double-Life-Discovering-Motherhood-Nonfiction/dp/0803235089].
I am mistaken.
The essay opens in an oyster bar in Tallahassee, where two lesbians from Northern California are desperately trying to find foods that make them feel welcome in their new southern home.
They reach their hands across the table to each other, not touching, “our clandestine version of hand-holding in places where prudence dictates two women do not hold hands.”
My breath catches. I look up.
The cherry blossoms on the trees in my yard are set to burst, and I have a gig that night, performing poemsongs from my new Wednesday book with the musician, Susanne Kappler. Something in me stirs and begins to blossom.
I continue reading.
That same paragraph ends: “We were in this together – whatever ‘this’ might be.”
I move through the essay, recognizing the same foodways and landmarks of the south I negotiate: soggy shrimp from far away despite the local plump ones, the brightly lit Publix with produce from Latin America, scuppernongs and the best tomatoes coming from a battered pickup truck parked on a roadside.
I am interrupted. My husband and daughter are home. They want to know what’s for dinner. It is 4:00. I should have already showered.
“Nothing,” I say. “I mean, I have my gig…”
My husband looks away and gets out the peanut butter. I offer to make a Hot Pocket for my daughter. She doesn’t look up from her phone when she mumbles, “Yeah.”
I make the Hot Pocket, remind my husband there’s plenty of beans and rice from last night’s dinner he can heat up, plus carrots and hummus, and good, organic lettuce if he wants to make a salad.
I head upstairs to the shower, the book still in my hands, knowing no salad will ever be made.
I turn on the water, and then decide to finish reading the essay first. With the water running, my is heart pounding, partly from my guilt at wasting water, partly from the shame of being a bad wife who did not make dinner, partly from what I am reading:
“But then I ate an oyster, tipping it into my mouth after letting a little of the seawater-cold liquor run in first. The meat – a pale silver, well-contained mound – was crisp, creamy, and flavorful, a little coppery and a little sultry. I looked at Sandy, and saw happiness and relief in her face, not only that I was happy, but that she was, too. We slowly swallowed oyster after oyster, then lingered at the table, tucked in the shell of our love.”
Time to shower.
The gig goes well. Poemsongs are performed. Pictures and video are taken. Joy is expressed. We are in sync.
And then we go eat.
“What’s open?” she asks.
“The noodle place?” I suggest.
“No, I want a drink.”
“How about Pearlz?”
Pearlz is an oyster bar. I order oysters.
“I just read an essay about oysters today,” I say.
Her eyebrows rise.
“I don’t like oysters,” she says
“Really?” I exclaim. This hot lesbian musician in an oyster bar will not share oysters with me?
“Really,” she says, batting her eyelashes down toward the menu. “But sushi is fine.”
We go home, separately, that night, and then text each other till 5 in the morning.
When her text comes in that says, Cassie, I think you have a crush on me, I text back, What is your address?
We sit in her basement recording studio and listen to music on shuffle.
We don’t touch. We hardly talk.
And then a Grace Potter’s song, “Colors,” comes on at dawn.
You don’t have to ask me why
Because I know you understand
All the treasures of my life
Are right here in my hand
Suspended in a moment
No more breath to catch
If you hold on to your end
Maybe we can make this last
This is the greatest time of day
When all the clocks are spinning backwards
And all the ropes that bind begin to fray
And all the black and white turns into colors
We go outside to watch the sun rise.
“This is my favorite time of day,” I say.
“Me, too,” she says.
The dawn feels like resurrection. It feels like being saved.
And then we go eat at the Waffle House.
It has taken me three months to get up the courage to write this essay. I had the idea for it that night. But I had to wait for summer to come first.
This spring was an awakening and a broken open blossom in my life. Five days after realizing I was gay and in love with Susanne, I came out to my husband and we separated— at first staying in the same house but in separate rooms. The heart of the separation entailed that we no longer ate meals together but took turns feeding our daughter.
On the evening of Good Friday, we sat at the dining room table—empty of food—and wrote down provisional financial and childcare arrangements. And took off our rings.
On Easter Sunday, I attended church—for the first time in years—with Susanne, and then we ate borscht I had made myself – with beets I bought myself through the local food co-op, and then boiled and peeled myself that morning, the warm skins turning my fingers a bright Easter egg red.
The beets were our oysters, and our communion, as we sat on her porch overlooking the still bare trees along the edge of the forest on a cold and sunny Easter Sunday.
It is summer now. And it is Friday again – the morning of the Summer Solstice. I think of Freya, the way she blessed me that spring day, in the cherry buds, in the orange Cassoulet book, in the music and poetry we performed that night, and in my own courage to bloom.
The full green trees along the same forest wave at me as I sit on a rocking bench and write. I live here with Susanne now. My daughter sleeps the late morning summer sleep of a young teen in an upstairs bedroom.
In many ways, my life is still the same. I still write. I am still a wife. I still make dinner almost every night. But in so many deep and soulful ways that will take all the poems and the memoir I am working on to relate, I have changed.
The Cassoulet Saved My Marriage grins at me ironically on the bench next to me, and I want to say to the book, “You are right, lovely book. You did.”
Because just as some of us like oysters and some like sushi and others like beets, there are many kinds of foods and many kinds of marriage and many kinds of families and, I know now, deep in my soul, there are just as many ways to be saved.
Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D. is the author of nine books and two musical poetry albums, and her latest book is Wednesday [http://www.amazon.com/Wednesday-Cassie-Premo-Steele/dp/1936373408/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371830428&sr=8-1&keywords=Wednesday+Steele], poems co-created with over 300 Facebook friends. Her Co-Creating Coaching helps writers find clarity and ease in their lives and work. Her website is http://www.cassiepremosteele.com
(photos courtesy of managing editor, EAS, and part of her NYC and Honolulu Hawaii visits- ‘Food Trucks’ and like strawberries they appear for short periods of time in various locations around the city. Other cities have begun allowing food trucks to bring delish foods to their residents around the world.)