Listless

✓ Eggs
✓ Cheese
✓ Meat
✓ Spinach

Are the items most frequently listed for my grocery getting. When I check off each item on my phone, I wonder if I should just uncheck it for next week’s go round. To switch it up, I’ll get different cheeses. Or hummus. Even a zucchini. God knows which vitamins I’m overloading or lacking. I dare not try to find out and alter my recurring list.

That wasn’t how it was. Half a life ago meals were full of turmeric and cloves and mustard seeds. Lentils and peas and eggplant delight. My mom’s hands are art. Her rhythmic strokes are apparent in watercolor, hair braiding, and deep frying. Prettiness is ubiquitous with her touch. Her salads present perfectly married greens, a balanced spice profile, topped with pomegranate gems.

I remember that with beauty comes the beast. “That okra is too expensive.” “Don’t put too much ghee on the roti.” “You’re wasting your food!” So many moving parts would come together for her delicacies, but they gave rise to my shoulders. Froze my initiative. Beleaguered my soul. What was normal half a life ago is simplified now. A basic list. Week after week.

I don’t dislike cooking. But recipes with ingredients galore revive the tension of not enough. I recall Saturday mornings milling through coupons while going between the sales at four grocery stores. I always missed Saturday morning cartoons. They were a mystery to me. I was a fake kid. A grown-up kid. Not a kid.

I get to shop for myself now. When I’m armed with a coupon, I rejoice in my roots. But having the choice offers Saturday mornings all to myself. I eat a breakfast of eggs, cheese, meat, and spinach with a dose of my favorite TV.

 

by Nisha Mody

 

Nisha Mody is a librarian, writer, and cat mom. She hails from Chicago and currently lives in Los Angeles. Her writing has been published in Everyday Feminism, Role Reboot, and Chicago Literati. Follow her on Twitter @nishamody.

Toxic Gaming

The father with oil stains on his button-down shirt is enraged he cannot find a golf course in Tijuana. A perverse butt of a chewed cigar hangs on his lower lip flaking tarred edges onto his chin. Spitting slurs he moves among the crowd, his daughter twisting underneath him. He insists people are lying to him. He demands knowledge. The crowd parts to make room, turning three-quarters to observe the spectacle.

One man steps out from the crowd to direct the father. He takes contained steps, edging the Big Man and little daughter to a lone paradise.

It is safer with only daughter, father, tantrums. No audience. Ghosts of trees and annihilated bushes and flowers haunt a cloudless sky. White bright light.  Mule-like a caddy follows on the heels of the father (as does his 5 year old), rolling over green dominated hills.

Mastery of this game consists in striking precisely in order to sink wrinkled white balls into an abyss,

dark narrow curved

elusive.

On again off again: padding, spitting, squinting. Relentless pursuit meets relentless failure.

Squint, shift voluminous hips, pad torn yellowed turf, aim.

Sweatily he goes, quarters ripping holes in his shorts, to the pinball machine, which he strikes with his hip and bangs more successfully. The daughter steps on a milkcrate and wraps her arms around the width of the machine. The father goads, then yells at her for losing.

At five this ends. A Siren sounds. He responds as if he had been waiting his life for this signal. The casinos are open! He wanders, the weight of his belly speeding him down paved roads towards machines and tables where he’ll work to forget people, the world and people in the world. He never gets far enough away into the fog to make them disappear.

 

by Patricia Coleman

 

Patricia Coleman is a writer/director whose pieces have appeared or will be appearing in presses including Bennington Review, Maintenant 11, Poetica, PAJ, Bomb and The New Review of Literature. She has staged 25+ productions at venues including The Kitchen, Chashama, and JACK. Her adaptation of Euripdes’ Medea was performed by glass-blowers and puppeteers at Brooklyn Glass in 2014.

Modern Medicine

This thing I wear around me like a talisman is copper from the earth I don’t know why it stains my skin but a healing naked mumbling tribesman will rub shaman ashes into my  wounds while cucumbers settle on my lids and warm eggs in the air pool like small white pills reconstructing a sweat lodge meditating body and knife blades part cells of thin skins while the medicinal value of broccoli calcium olive oil and silver coins I stole from the old man watching the pizza-maker twirling golden dough into leafy green crusts while walking through the goat cheese bazaar with chest lumps while I’m on the way to the dentist dancers thumping in dust their nude buttery feet drawing life through straws from a thickened vessel racing room to room wax on wax separating off your melting and porous spine trying to find the clue bombarded by small radiant bullets and rhinoceros horn shark fin yoga light against the bone amidst cries of the pouring of liquids syrups elixirs milk of nuts and hanging fruit sultry wine the anti-oxidants corrective cleansing goldenseal grounding my existence warding off the slow creeping pressing diving thin hollow needles and the mushrooms dried in hot air and dead vegetable matter playa mud sucking pores soft touch of my hand an icy salve a song in the dark and rough memories alive and you wanting every spice every action every soothing voice the comfort of aboriginal fire a thin line of vaccinating friendship the thick repeating muscle of another.

by Brad Garber

 

Brad has degrees in biology, chemistry and law. He writes, paints, draws, photographs, hunts for mushrooms and snakes, and runs around naked in the Great Northwest. Since 1991, he has published poetry, essays and weird stuff in such publications as Edge Literary Journal, Pure Slush, On the Rusk Literary Journal, Sugar Mule, Third Wednesday, Barrow Street, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Five:2:One, Ginosko Journal, Vine Leaves Press, Riverfeet Press, Smoky Blue Literary Magazine, Aji Magazine and other quality publications. 2013 & 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee.