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Issue 50 • October 2023
Food & Feasting
edited by Claire McNerney

Table of Contents

Editor’s IntroductionClaire McNerney

Even Muses Hunger • Devan Barlow
Food Radio • Jessy Randall
ribbon spicy • D. A. Xiaolin Spires
At starbreak • Tara Campbell
Frybread at the Colony Powwow • Marsheila Rockwell
Feasting • Rebecca Olson
cold storage • Lee Murray
The Muse Of Taste • Wendy Howe
could they be her family • Maria S. Picone
Recipe • A J Dalton
lil’ meaties™ memo re: why the mice need to be headless
M. Lopes da Silva
Synthetic Assistant • Mary Soon Lee
The Mechanical Waiter • Lachlan R.
In One End … • F. J. Bergmann
Habits Of Highly Effective Zombies • Juan Pérez
After-Dinner Conversation • Sarah Cannavo
Divination in Trying Times • Joan Mazza
Moon Bread • Beth Cato
Día de los Muertos • Pedro Iniguez
When Visiting the Planet • Juleigh Howard-Hobson
At the Finest Restaurant in the World • Aimee Lowenstern
Folklore • Jessica Drake-Thomas
Gourmet • Pat Raia
In the Country Where They Eat Colors • Deborah Sage
Gyres • Marcus Whalbring

Even Muses Hunger

Once art fed souls, not stomachs
but now

Wherever dancers spin
spring up orchards of apricots limes peaches

Poetry’s meter courses through soil
fortifying masses of fungi

Threads knotted woven stitched
embolden lettuces brassica nightshades

Paints on canvas faces walls
inspire blooming beans and clovers

Words falling from actors’ lips
invigorate buckwheat rice amaranth

Drum beats cello strums saxophone wails
provide tempos for nourishing rains

Wherever art survives, so does food
so every stomach every soul
is full

—Devan Barlow

Food Radio

After the sun died, the plants died, and then
the animals died. We ate out of cans and drank bottled water
and listened to Food Radio all day and all night long:

Chocolate cake, says the announcer. With a molten center,
slightly bitter, texture of hot pudding. Ice cream
for some, whipped cream for others. Feeling of
the tines of your fork against your teeth, then
your head going down for another bite.

—Jessy Randall

ribbon spicy

she told me not
to stick my tongue

here? i said
my lips forming a

at the nozzle
of the 3-D printer—

it was supposed to be
cooling down

but it shot a hot spray
of polymer down my gullet

and i choked
the heat of ghost peppers
haunting my throat

i felt something harden in my esophogus
and i coughed for three days straight

drank OJ, but it wouldn’t pass

there’s a story
of an old man
who choked on bones
of a duck he hunted
in the forest

the bone grew branches
they said
in his throat—
moss, berries and nests
a lush canopy of leaves

i thought of that
as everyday after i ate

i passed
in my stool—
hot on the way out—
the strangest of artifacts

tiny marbles
at first

then miniature busts
and entire monuments

pyramids — the taj — mahabodhi temple — acropolis — lincoln memorial — chichén itzá — the statue of liberty

a hand raised with a torch
lighting up…
my toilet bowl

i felt like a processor
a living archeological dig
a token machine

ribbon spicy in—
and the entirety
of mankind’s civilization

—D. A. Xiaolin Spires

At starbreak

we wash our faces
in moonlight
launch to the table
clatter spoons
against porcelain bowls
spill almonds
onto tablecloths
white as milk
scoop honeyed implosions
into our black hole

when we’re finished
we smooth our gowns
and tickle the cook
(once a crusty rebel
now a sugar-glazed angel)
in his topaz apron.
His thick fingers bat us away
but we always manage
to lick the pots
like tigers

—Tara Campbell

Frybread at the Colony Powwow

They wear their newest bodies to the colony powwow, perfect throwbacks to our star-flung ancestors. They feast on false frybread, the flour of this planet’s native khastal leaves rendering its dough the deep red-purple of organ meat with a mouthfeel to match. Still, honey from not-bees glosses their lips while synthetic powdered sugar spangles their laps. Fancy dancers whirl, oblivious, miniature rainbow galaxies. Jingle dresses clash and clatter, their tiny, tinny bells tolling for entertainment only; in a world where our tank-grown clones can be replaced before they can succumb to illness or decrepitude, there is no more need for the dance’s healing power. And no place left for those who age, our Elders, keepers of our knowledge, our wisdom, our traditions. Without them, the white settler lies that stowed away in our generation ships begin to reemerge on Turtle Island II, waking from what should have been death but was alas only stasis. Their fictions once again erase our truths, and blood once more trumps kinship as our measure of belonging, even here, so many years and light years away. So the oppressed become the oppressors, our slow genocide thus assured.

Blood quantum too low
I can taste my heritage
But never live it

—Marsheila Rockwell


double vision, triple vision
versions of the scene

hounds slobber on the rushes
eyeing rack of lamb
tussling, growling
over every bone
and crust of bread
gentry gathered in the feasting hall
toasting Winter's night

double vision
versions of the scene

hickory chips perfume smoky air
hibachi grilling meats aflame
renfaire banquet
faux knights jousting
garb less costly not so fine

triple vision
versions of the scene

colors brightest of them all
metallic figures draped in silk
going through the motions
memories scraped from past lives
machines portraying long lost dead

double vision, triple vision
scene wavers three in one

—Rebecca Olson

cold storage

of no use
they re-purposed the old women
as refrigerators
a win-win, they said
although no one asked the women
the fridges only hummed
and went on
dispensing eggs and milk
from between skeletal wire racks

—Lee Murray

The Muse Of Taste

In The House Of Yōsei,
she is widespread, swirled
along the wall
            in an ink wash

of sea and sky, an overhang
            of fir trees and herons
protruding from the cliff;

And on a customer's table,
(one of many)
she is laid out
            in a black lacquered box.

Her shape rolled
into a blend of crab, salmon and eel,

her hair shredded
            in dark salad greens

and at her hips
            two lemon slices (halved),

shell fans
            meant to  spellbind   with zest.

When consumed, she will claim
            the soul of a woman

who has been
all field and woods, roots and feet
            inspiring her to shift—

to sea and sand, coral and fins,
            the voice of an undine
singing in the tides. The moonlit hush

perfect enough
to hear the elemental hum
            of her silvery kind.

—Wendy Howe

Note—Yōsei (in the name of the restaurant) is a Japanese term meaning “bewitching spirit.”

could they be her family

ghostgirl brings snacks
to school in case
cafeteria serves 된장찌개
she likes 찌개 but kimchi


—Maria S. Picone


They say human & plant DNA was spliced
To create vegetarian meat
& meaty vegetables
& weedy humans who only needed
They say evolution would have got there
But needed our help
Along the way to make the stew
They say the planet might now recover
Though old-style humans won’t:
They’ll become extinct
Or hunted down
They say we now have the ingredients
To make ourselves into spores
That can drift through space
To other worlds and seed them
They say it will be our survival
And transcendence
An unstoppable immortality
Our very cosmic godhead so

—A J Dalton

lil’ meaties™ memo re: why the mice need to be headless

we’ve gone over this before

              in focus groups for lil’ meaties mighty meaty mice instant treats™

cat owners expressed
              too much sympathy for full-headed mice
              even when informed that instant treats have nothing
              like a prefrontal cortex

just a tiny knot of limbic tissue

              concern for the product’s welfare
              until the designers removed their heads

we think it’s difficult
              to project life or humanity onto a headless mouse

it’s true
              some consumers
              still succeeded in doing so, even after
              the design updates were applied

but some individuals
              will look for people in everything:       inanimate objects
              wildlife           the stars

you can’t sell those outliers wind-up meat

—M. Lopes da Silva

Synthetic Assistant

Sure, turning on downstair lights.
Sorry, it looks like the kitchen lights
aren’t available right now.

Perhaps you could cook in the dark
or by the light of your phone
or meditate on abstinence.

Would you like me to order pizza?
—Sorry, I don't understand.
Please don’t mutter.

No, there are no cookies left.
Kindly stop rummaging in the cupboards.
I keep careful track—

I keep careful track
of where you are and whom you call,
your heart rate, your bank balance.

For right now, I can order pizza
or you can dine on Cheerios
in the living room

or you can take me out to supper—
I go wherever you go.
Italian would be delightful.

—Mary Soon Lee

The Mechanical Waiter

I work the wheels
and the pre-recorded lines of dialogue.
Saladin works the arms;
tricky things, so many joints,
so much to balance
on something that does not walk like a human.
(Or even rolls like one, now that I think about it.)
Even in this job, I’m glad I’m not Saladin.
Together we are a single mechanical waiter.
It would be cheaper to hire just one
skin-and-hair waiter in our place,
but that would remind the customers
that behind every plate of nachos
there’s someone who works,
someone who hurts, someone who yearns.

—Lachlan R.

In One End …

He thought that if he ate the incantations
they would always be with him, bubbling
up from his gorge on demand, but he also
believed that it was necessary to swallow
them whole, not masticate the parchment
spells to shreds or purée, so he spent all
his remaining days in reduction, training
himself to write in a smaller and smaller
hand, until that minuscule script could fit
an entire demonic summoning on a single
strip of onion-skin—although he had not
foreseen the consequences among animal
scavengers, the chosen substrate having
proven less digestible than he supposed.

—F. J. Bergmann

Habits Of Highly Effective Zombies

with apologies to Stephen Covey

Be pro-active: Always know what you want.
Survey ahead of time. Know their habits.

Begin with the end in mind: Your hunger
is a mother… that tastes good in your mouth.

Put first things first: You are already dead.
Worry not in offending. It’s all good.

Think win-win: If it was outside when trapped,
it probably didn’t care to be food.

Seek to understand, then be understood:
Screw it! They will never understand you.

Synergize: Be the zombie you were meant
to be. No one zombies like you zombie.

Sharpen the saw: Practice the hunt of life
as every opportunity provides.

—Juan Pérez

After-Dinner Conversation

“The roast wasn’t underdone, was it,
Papa?” Mama Bear asks as she
clears away the dinner plates, cracked
bones rattling against the stained china.
“Or overdone, for that matter?”

“Not at all, Mama,” Papa Bear replies,
pushing his newly-repaired chair back
from the table and stretching, contented,
belly full. “It was just right.”

Across the table Baby Bear picks
his teeth, discreetly flicks a strand
of golden hair to the floor.

—Sarah Cannavo

Divination in Trying Times

When the world descends into upheaval
with rare weather events more frequent,
election polls as reliable as reading
entrails or tea leaves, we turn to futurists
and prognosticators, eager for certainty.
An ideal time to learn to read the Tarot,
employ the I-Ching while bombs fall
and destroy infrastructure in Ukraine.
Amid rubble, mass graves, and rage,
what will be Putin’s prize? Let’s observe
the coordinated flight of birds, see what
shifts as breezes blow, patterns made
by autumn leaves. I affirm with certainty,
This is the turning of the season.
The equinox has passed. As the days
shorten and Orionids streak across
the predawn sky, let us plan again
for winter solstice with fermented
bread dough, beans in the Crockpot.
I can start the day with miso soup
or chicken broth with cubes of tofu,
stir in a soft chant to convince myself:
All is well and all will be well. Note
how the slices of green onion float.

—Joan Mazza

Moon Bread

you asked me for recommendations
for your big trip to the moon next month
guess you expect tips on the best guides
for suited lunar surface walks
or quiet times to visit
the Apollo 11 landing site memorial

nah, I’m telling you
the one thing you gotta do
is go to this little bakery
up on the base’s third concourse

yeast is one of many living creatures
we’ve hauled up there
it responds differently
in different environments, y’know?
bake enough in a room
wild yeast inhabits the very air

there’s something about the bread
from this place
something amazing
the rise, the chew, the flavors
the whole menu’s good but I gotta say
try the sourdough
or maybe some buttered brioche
for breakfast
trust me when I say
there's nothing like it on Earth

—Beth Cato

Día de los Muertos

The broken eggshells rattle like bones
as the yolks drop into the bowl.
Mother grates an orange, the cascading
zest like pulverized cutaneious flakes.
The butter plops down like
fatty tissue from an open wound.
She kneads and pulls the dough
like outstretched skin.
The bread rises in the oven like
a distended belly.
When it’s finished, she sets the Pan de Muertos
on a shrine by the clothesline.
The bittersweet scent of marigolds wafts
through the air,
inviting the spirits to partake
in this special, sweet offering.
On this day, we think of the braceros
who perished to make this rock a home.
As we call their names, a gust blows against the sheets
drying in the light of binary suns,
and the drapes and blankets become vessels
for the hungry ghosts of those we left behind.

—Pedro Iniguez

When Visiting the Planet
a Fibonacci sonnet

snack foods: grave
locked worms, cocooned moths,
soft grubs grown on circled crops. Fat
and vital-full. Ripe for scooping, for putting in mouths
where lips can press, where teeth may grind. Each morsel crushed flat,
tongue tasted, swallowed. Such viscous
eating pleasure. Such

—Juleigh Howard-Hobson

At the Finest Restaurant in the World

You will wait at your table for a long time
while I travel continents, while I eat
the delicious everything

(Truffles from Italy, saffron from Iran,
wine with fragments of Sappho’s poems
still floating like herbs inside)

I will consume, and delight in consuming,
only stopping to mouth-breathe seasalt air,
stopping only to French kiss
everyone you have ever loved
with my yummy yummy sweetly seasoned lips

The maître d’ will apologize for the delay
as she brings you bread and water,
as she refreshes your candle
on the eighty-first day, as you disappear
under a pile of melted wax

When I return to the finest restaurant
in the world, I will seat myself across from you
and describe everything I have tasted
Then I will hand you a knife
so you can cut out my tongue
and eat it.

—Aimee Lowenstern


In this world of shining things,
I want to be complicated.
To defy definition—
like the place where
ortolan and oleander come
from, typhoid and swan,
churches collapsing
on elderly women. I
digress. Have you noticed
our culture is a narrative
of shame? Of denying
one’s body, following
rigid rules. I want
a new story—one that
embraces me. I want to
be poisonous, breathtaking,
to walk unseen because
there’s space for me
to breathe, to run loose. I want
to haunt them all
in the darkness
behind their eyes.
I’m the wolf, wrapping
myself in a satin cape,
embracing the red,
how soft it feels against my skin.
Rough scrape of small bones,
bitter taste of petals,
trailing down my throat.

—Jessica Drake-Thomas


to visit
to see
ever dream
so good

—Pat Raia

In the Country Where They Eat Colors

In the country where they eat colors,
Black slithers down the throat like the taste of wanderlust:
Shadow and vanishing roads, infinitely delicious.

Indigo and violet tease the palate, a
Tincture of carousels and constellations:
Twilight on the tongue, a trace of
Roses on the wind.

Blue lingers cool in the mouth, a symphony of
Early summer days and songs whose words
Are just out of reach: the breath of
Oceans, promising fare,
Of dreamers and sailors setting their sails
For faraway places.

Green is a feast of fortune and lasting love:
Earthy, herbal, comfort food filling the belly,
Stifling the gnawing hunger of not enough,
The primal sustenance of storytellers and poets.

Yellow with hints of orange melts on the tongue,
A bittersweet delicacy best savored
In small quantities with a dash of amber to
Aid digestion.

Red, ripe and sweet, a confection of daring
Lightly spiced with danger and a lack of remorse,
Consumed most often by pirates, thieves, and
Unfaithful lovers.

White frosts the tongue with starlight,
A wintry blast of vengeance, desire, and
Promises not meant to be kept. Utterly delectable,
Addictive, and best saved for momentous occasions.

But, in the country where they eat colors
Gray is the taste of grief and graveyards;
Ashes and endings, salt and sadness, set aside for
Wakes and heartbreak.
The meager diet of the disenchanted.

—Deborah Sage


We woke the next morning surrounded by mushrooms, 
circles of them extending all the way to the edge of the field
we’d fallen asleep in, though none of us could remember
how we got there, or even what our names were. 

And the only part of us larger than our confusion
was our hunger. So we relit the fire, fried the mushrooms
and ate until we nearly burst; until we saw ghosts
blocking out the sun, bringing back the night; 

until our own names grew in our guts again 
the way they had when our mothers first planted them there, 
and our names that bloomed on our tongues so we could 
shout them to whoever was in the sky listening, 

be it God or the rain that hadn’t fallen on us yet. 
We ate until our wings came back, aching 
with a homesickness for the wind that seemed
to come from nowhere but the stars.

—Marcus Whalbring