Maryann Wolfe

Guidelines for Eating


Do you like peas?

Do you like rice?

asks the little girl in her highchair.


Maybe it’s when we are her age

that we first learn the truth about food.

It’s when we make our choices to be

eaters or starvers in times of crisis.


Maybe you didn’t grow up that way,”

he says, but “I’m European….”


Do you like cheese?


I made that soup for you!

I know you love meatball soup—

would you cry if I told you to go

in the kitchen and fix yourself a bowl?”


Do you like ham?

We had ham for Easter.


“Why are you crying? It’s not like

an airplane has crashed. It’s not like

your mother has been hit by a bus.”


Do you like peas?

Do you like rice?


“You shouldn’t eat that bread and butter.

Butter is all fat. It will kill you!

Go ahead—here, take this!”


Two pounds of butter tumble

across the counter.


Do you like cheese?


There are times when a woman

wants salt or chocolate,

at least comfort in the form

of bread or peas.

And there are times when this man

eats an entire can of condensed milk.

“It’s a treat,” he says, “Where I grew up

this stuff was over two dollars a can.”


Do you like ham?
We had ham for Easter.


I know the planning, the time

and preparation that go

into making ham for Easter

or into a bowl of homemade soup.


I know how hard it is

to taste a gift when it comes

with words so often repeated,

words that pass through the filter

between brain and mouth

as easy as water through a colander.


Do you like peas?

Do you like rice?




Walking in Circles


If blindfolded and told to walk

a straight line in the desert,

we cannot do it.

In a forest, where the canopy

of leaves blocks the sun,

we will find an invisible wind

blowing us off course.

It is ingrained in us

to walk in circles.


Perhaps this is why I wake

each morning, surprised

that there is no head

on the pillow beside mine.

There is a need to check my phone

for a message from you,

as if I simply slept so soundly

that I did not hear you

returning in the night.


But I woke seven times–

the cat was running a circle

from the windows on the east

to the windows on the west.

She is curled up now,

a nap-circle beside my knee.

It doesn’t seem to bother her,

to accept that circular nature

of nose to tail.


But I feel myself, orbiting moments,

reaching backwards

for when you were here.

Everyone’s advice would be–

Move on.

As if I could control (or would want to)

the emotion circling

through arteries and veins.

It is only natural

to remain unable (unwilling?)

to follow a linear path.






I remember exactly what my crib tastes like—

a sort of plastic-wood, the way I imagine

a fresh snapped birch twig to taste.


These days, as an adult, I try to be choosier

about what I put in my mouth.

As children, we explore and discover,

almost forget how to stay alive.


We leave the safety of children to adults,

who install crib sides upside-down

and inadvertently allow our heads to get trapped.


Maybe it’s because I understand that imperfection

that I crave the creamy texture

of plastic Risk troops on my tongue.


I have the inter-generational habit of idly chewing

the ends of hair, while pondering

some kindergarten question—


Some of us always return to taste

as the basic means of understanding.


Even the cat is drawn to circles of elastic,

lying in wait on the kitchen table

or on top of the clothes hamper.


And somewhere, someone in this neighborhood

is trying to overcome the need to gnaw and chew—

I found a metal spatula with bite marks on its handle.


It is lying, lonely, on the sidewalk under a pay phone.

It makes me wonder if its surrender was forced or voluntary.


I can picture this cooking tool flung out an open window

by a cook weary of seeking from utensils

what can’t be found in food.


Maryann Wolfe


Maryann Wolfe teaches creative writing, composition, and food writing at Bridgewater College. She has had work published in The Bluestone Review and Earth’s Daughters and placed in contests run the VA Poetry Society.


Rebecca Buller

Azalea Martine’s Daily Schedule


Every morning at 6:30, Azalea Martine wakes up and throws back the covers. She opens the blinds and windows before freshening up in a bathroom with walls the color of sun-bleached grass. At 7:10 John Martine watches his wife, Azalea, make oatmeal and bacon for breakfast while he taps his fingers on the tabletop and debates telling her the nightgown she’s wearing makes her look fat.

At 7:30 Azalea Martine cleans up the breakfast dishes and turns her cheek to the side when John kisses her goodbye. He didn’t come home last night, but she doesn’t complain to him. At 7:40 she showers, does her hair and make-up, and gets dressed. She doesn’t complete the 10-minute exercise routine her sister, Agnes Merchant, suggested two days ago while Azalea sucked on her third cigarette in two hours. John wouldn’t notice if her hair caught fire while she stirred brownie batter in her pink slip.

At 8:05 Azalea Martine picks up a basket and begins straightening the living and dining room. She takes John’s slippers and throws them into the garbage pail because it’s the third time in two days he’s left them beside his chair. She ignores the ashtray, it’s hers.

At 8:25 Azalea Martine makes their bed and fluffs the pillows. She decides not to wash the sheets because they haven’t shared the same bed in four days and his pomade hasn’t dirtied the pillowcases. She steps on John’s blue suit jacket on her way to the door and doesn’t stoop to retrieve it.

At 8:30 Azalea Martine stops paying attention to the time, drops her basket in the middle of the hallway, and wanders back to the kitchen.

At 8:31 Azalea Martine opens the cabinet underneath the sink and pulls out a half-empty bottle of red wine. She uncorks it and takes a big swallow.

She will drink until 10 and then wipe down the kitchen work surfaces. She might even pour boiling water down the sink to flush the pipes.

The grocery shopping will have to wait until tomorrow.

Azalea Martine makes a mental note to pick up flour. She only has half a cup left.



A Bottle of Daddy’s Laughter


I tore Daddy’s bedsheets five days after he died, and his birthday card I tossed into the trashcan with the banana peels and spoilt pork chops.

“They’re doing a lot with wax dummies,” Aunt Mamie said with a cigarette gripped between her fingers. “Didn’t look a thing like your daddy. Hair’s different, that ain’t his hair.”

I ignored Aunt Mamie. To her the world hadn’t been right since Elvis and Priscilla divorced.

“Bet your mama buried him with that gold ring.” Mamie whistled through yellow teeth. “It’d fetch some big cash at Pete’s. You know Pete, don’t you? We used to date way back when dirt was new.”

Yeah, I knew Pete. The filthy old man shoved his hands up my pleated skirt when I was seven, but I never told Daddy.

“It was your mama that killed him.” Mamie flicked ash onto a cracked green saucer. “Your mama worked him to death, worked my brother right into the grave. I told him Audrey was bad news. Don’t trust them girls with red hair, they’re evil.”

I unscrewed the cap on the vanilla extract and drank. The taste smelled like Daddy’s laughter.


Rebecca Buller


Rebecca Buller is a native Oklahoman. She was the Second Writing Prize Winner of the Dream Quest One – Winter 2016 – 2017 Contest and a Semifinalist in the 2016 New Millennium Writings competition. She works for an insurance company and enjoys writing fiction and poetry in her spare time.


Samantha Malay



for a while he worked at a school up the road

and told us not to talk to the boys who lived there

but trouble started inside our house


the hole in the rug

the beet-stained cloth

the dark-winged insect in the unslept night


haste hid his plan

and a dearth of kin

like the letters in the glovebox

from friends who fed our animals

and doubted our return


the unclasped necklace

the bruise on the knuckle

the heat of the day trapped in the car

at a gas station pay phone

in a town we didn’t know


see the bend in the river

where he longed for the coast

and numbered the things he could part with


stand on the porch

of the house near the train tracks

where we curled on the floor

in one room together

and outgrew our clothes

by the end of that winter





In summer we walked through the woods,

picking wild strawberries and naming the trails as our own.


The remains of a homestead lay half-buried, roof joists rotting around rusty cans,

books frail and dusty as moth wings. Grass seeds clung to our clothes.


Can you stop time so we can stay together?


In town, he drove with his arm across the front seat

to keep us from hitting the dashboard at intersections.


Leave your coat on when we get there.


He knew these people before he was married. Sad to see us, they asked us to stay.


But by then we’d seen dead animals and fires at the edge of the garbage dump,

smoke lingering in the orange peels and eggshells, cigarette butts and toys.

We’d heard arguments through the floorboards, moved into houses with dirty sinks

and medicine abandoned behind the bathroom mirror.

We’d departed together, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the school year,

to sleep in campgrounds and fields.

We’d listened to the snow muffle our voices as it lit the night sky,

tree boughs soft and heavy and quiet.


We felt the inward pull of family,

like underwater branches against our legs in the lake.


Will you leave us some clues before you go?

We need to know fool’s gold from the real thing,

the names of the people who broke your nose,

and should you kiss the girl on your right when you see a car with one light?



Lament, 1971


Put your feet in the creek,

sit next to me in the shade.


Do our voices idle between the books and clothes and dishes we left behind?


Unlock the secrets of the language we used to speak.

Hold on, even as meaning unravels.


Laundry swings on a clothesline, blocks out the sun. There is a storm coming.


Keep still.


We make a circle, five of us, like fingers on a hand.


Bees swarm where the faucet drips.


Pull away, baby boy, from the gestures we inherit.





In smoke-scented, threadbare coats

they’d walked through frozen fields and empty streets

toward whispers of work and pickles, fresh bread and fish,

an address in a port city, yellow flowers at the base of a mountain.


See the curve of her cheek as she turns from the pier,

seagulls loud in the charcoal sky.


They’d dreamt of fruit trees and a food grinder for the new baby.


Between tanks of tropical fish, he eats a sandwich at his workbench

in the hazy pungent air.


Short sleeves show Navy tattoos, the arms of a tinkerer, an appliance repairman.

Branches heavy with plums obscure the potholed alley.


Doorbell. Cars on Orchard Street. A neighbor’s sprinkler.


Turn the radio on.


Were they led by bravery or hunger?


The men who knew him then turn to each other now.


Signal and refrain.



Samantha Malay


Samantha Malay was born in Berlin, Germany and grew up in rural eastern Washington State. She is a theatrical wardrobe technician by trade, a writer and a mixed-media artist. Her poem/collage ‘Rimrock Ranch’ was exhibited at Core Gallery in Seattle, Washington in January 2017. Her poem ‘Gather’ was published by The RavensPerch in May 2017, and her poems ‘Rimrock Ranch’ and ‘Homestead’ appear in the summer issue of Sheila-Na-Gig.