Scandinavian Sausages and Bad Bank Cards
“This one’s from Norway,” she says, placing the platter under my nose. “It’s made from yak. And this one’s from Finland. Not sure what it is, but it tastes like blue pepper.” These are not made-for-breakfast sausages, although you could if you wanted. What’s keeping you from baking a batch of flaky buttermilk biscuits and stuffing them with Scandinavian sausages? What started as a cheese-of-the-month club morphed into sausages-of-the-world, shipped monthly in a double-layer cardboard box, three half-pound samples nestled like babies in small pillows of dry ice. Each arrival brings holidays and birthdays and party-like atmospheres into the house. “If only the cheese and sausage would arrive on the same day,” she pines. “Do you think they can change delivery dates?” I take her to The Luscious Lemon for lunch, very girly-girly and everything’s for sale: cushions and ornately-painted powder boxes; lipsticks and exotic shampoos with ingredients from Madagascar that I can’t pronounce; high-end tablecloths and runners; tables scapes and soaps; porcelain birds, gnomes and mushrooms whose polished caps throw sunlight in our faces. It’s a trap. And the food is brunchy. She just loves this place. So much. It makes her talk more than she normally does. Like record floods, torrents of water tearing down village streets. She never wants wine but says it’s okay if I have one glass. “Don’t forget you’re driving.” The ATM spits out my green bank card as if it tastes bitter. There’s a line behind me. I try three times. The person behind me huffs and I give him a go-to-hell look. Two can play this game. The bank associate has gathered up her personal belongings to leave for the day. I show her the card. “Here’s the problem,” she says, pointing to a crimp on the side of the magnetic strip. “Order me a new one,” I say, “before you go home.” “There’s a fee for that.” “Since when?” “This week,” she says. “That really sucks,” I tell her. “How much?” “Ten dollars.” “Do it,” I say, “but you’re not getting any Scandinavian sausages or cheese. And you can forget about the biscuits.”
Thinking About Learning German While Making Myself a Grilled Cheese
Over there is a grater for re-purposing potatoes into sweet gluten-filled spackle, adding this and that to the sticky concoction, shaping them into three-inch patties, dropping them gently into medium-hot oil. The kiss as they lie down, give up the ghost, toast away into perfect scaffolding for sour cream and chives. So why am I telling you about this genetic aberration, one that she cannot escape, one for which there is no cure? She clasps her heritage with pewter talons, and clicks her heels together in perfect time, shoving the pumpernickel over the kitchen counter, and slapping three slices of muenster onto the carving board. “Now you can make your sandwich,” she says. I predicted this situation three years ago. It’s evening primrose popping from tightly wound whorls into lemon night. I understand in my own skin, how to cut it, roll it up, spread it across thick bread, with butter. I will not burn it to ash. I will not worship it. I will not claim to understand it like lightning. It is art in a cast iron skillet, short-lived and guttural, raw and demanding. It is time for me to earn points for learning her language.
Whether John Dorroh taught any secondary science is still being discussed. However, he managed to show up every morning at 6:45 for a couple of decades with at least two lesson plans and a thermos of robust Colombian. His poetry has appeared in about 75 journals, including Dime Show Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Os Pressan, Feral, Selcouth Station, and Red Dirt Forum/Press. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.
It Really is Just About the Maquillage,
I loiter around my face
each stroke of a cosmetic pencil
redefining an eyebrow, an eyelash
there is a morbid satisfaction
in this intimacy of self with self
to put on powders and mascara
a spell earmarked for internal dialogue
my own reflection as close as any lover
I don’t like my true face
but there is delight in this slow pace
the ownership of stolen time
the rote recipe
first the moisturizer
each brush with purpose even destination
a potential to reveal
anything at first not seen
Brewer’s or Grackle
Euphagus cyanocephalus or
I’m always home, but wistfulness follows
me as tail feathers on a bird—a Brewer’s blackbird
they cluster on the wooden broken fence
near our reeds— males with their curious yellow eyes
that seem to shift lost crevices inside of me,
their iridescent heads —that purple shimmer
on oil stain green takes me back
to a childhood of tropical rain, Fichus trees,
and a plaza filled with the chinchilín song
of his cousin—an ecological equivalent—
the Antillean Grackle
Could I beg for a similar fortune?
If my wish were granted, the child in me would run
unabashed after that long tailed chango
the perfect name for a silly bird that shows off
his large family—a gatherer full of mischief,
but the Grackle is not here in this colder climate
here the aloof Brewer’s, secretive but for singing
his own cacophonous song to his immediate brood
I can sense he doesn’t feel the loss of home
unlike me, his home is home —where the nest rests
its twiggy cup near brothers and sisters
a loose colony of familiar ancestry—my jealousy
at least for this summer, for this breeding season
Amelia Díaz Ettinger is a ‘Mexi-Rican,’ born in México but raised in Puerto Rico. As a BIPOC poet and writer, she has two full-length poetry books published: Learning to Love a Western Sky by Airlie Press, and a bilingual poetry book, Speaking at a Time /Hablando a la Vez by Redbat Press. Also, a poetry chapbook, Fossils in a Red Flag by Finishing Line Press, 2021. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies.
On Digging, a Response
to Seamus Heaney
As I stoop to pluck
a stubborn weed root,
I hear the rough scratch
of pen tip against paper
through the upstairs window.
The soil gives way much easier
in this pensioner’s garden.
The reward for forty long years
of digging potatoes and peat farming.
I hear a pause above,
followed by the muffled shuffle to the window.
I bend to drive the spade again;
my son thinks I was not listening.
Go and pen your works, son.
I knew potato farming wasn’t in you.
But my secret is this:
I dug potatoes so you wouldn’t have to.
Jamie Gergen is a poet, author, and graduate student at George Mason University in Virginia. He has worked in poetry, non-fiction, and fiction genres with poetry being his most developed genre. His poetry and fiction have been published in The Front Porch Review and Volition Magazine.
Holding Her Lamp, I, too,
–with gratitude to Eva Dűrrenfeld
A chance encounter. Curiously
turning pages, suddenly shaking,
caught and pulled
through a worm-hole. Like lightening,
ineffable recognition struck my heart:
Not bitter enough tastes the almond.
A small-town high-school teacher,
unmarried, childless, grave unknown,
left behind an Aladdin’s lamp: her slim volume
languished for years on my shelf,
until, during dusting, accidentally
knocked over, it fell
open. Her genie woke, dislodged
the stone of doubt, invited me
to descend into the secret
chamber, pluck and bring back
through her “Rents in the Air”
golden plums and moon-touched pears.
Garden of Remembrance
“If it is allowed…,” her voice trailed off.
“Of course,” my eyes moist,
I sounded firmer than I intended.
My sister took her tablet, touched the screen,
showed pictures of the Rhone valley: a hummock,
crowned by a small limestone chapel,
the magnificent view from its attached cemetery,
and a plaque, surrounded by blossoms,
reading “Jardin de Souvenir.”
“There, I’d like my ashes spread.
So you all can come and visit me
whenever you want.”
I nodded, waited for more. But nothing
else was to come.
Of course, I wanted to attend her funeral.
But my brother-in-law, after taking care of house guests
for many months, followed the example she had set
many years ago after the burial of our mother;
my sister left us, her siblings, in the restaurant, to be
with just her own family. Now her husband and sons
forewent a gathering, cherished her remains
in utter intimacy.
In response, on the same day, but on the other end
of the world, we offered our own last service:
we robbed the red rose of all its petals,
stripped the evening primrose of its golden gowns,
and one-by-one picked borage’s blue stars.
Then, in the fallow part of the garden, in the brilliant morning light,
singing “Fly away,..” we tendered our treasure to the wind…
In Memory of Mr. Mo
He, who could never be hurried
across a threshold, would rush towards me,
purring loudly, whenever I returned.
One night, injured, he dragged himself
through the cat door into the garage,
called us out of our sleep.
I cradled him on the drive to the vet.
Again and again we tried, but nothing
could undo the paralysis.
Slowed down, he still commanded
two serviceable legs, continued to contest
the puppy’s encroachments into his space.
After years, his muscles withered,
his fur turned shaggy,
his appetite waned.
When the servant of release arrived,
he sat up, looked her straight in the eye,
as if greeting an angel.
Then he snuggled into my arm,
consented to be gently eased
from here to there.
Brigitte Goetze lives in Western Oregon. A retired biologist and angora goat farmer, she now divides her time between writing and fiber works. She finds inspiration for both endeavors in nature as well as the stories and patterns handed down from generation to generation, eavesdropping into the never-ending conversation between the biological and spiritual dimensions of life. Her words have been published by Calyx, Oregon Humanities and in anthologies. Her website can be found at: brigittegoetzewriter.com.
–Salmon River at Three Rocks
greet this place aloud hello tender hello is doorway
to prayer is doorway to song move through winged
trill waterfall trickle gravel crunch suddenly startle
you might be seen someone might come upon you
strange person hand recklessly on breastbone as luxury
fits in the world emerge from domestic rainforest
to ocean-mouthed riverbed palm sand’s tidal indents
until shape of coast one more line on your body
aren’t vapors whirling above your own mind all around
patterned & dancing right there your anemone heart
clenching when provoked even by gentle curious touch
here shell you outgrew & there you’re honed beach-log
smooth by turmoil throw yourself on the fire miracle
you barely smolder arrive to where you chuckle
silly you thinking yourself stranger that earnest hello
Ash Good is a queer, non-binary & non-monogamous poet, designer, curator, editor, artist and activist. They are co-founding editor at First Matter Press (a 501c3 nonprofit), curator of Bloom open mic and a reader for Frontier Poetry magazine. Ash is the author of four collections of poetry and their work most recently appears in Not Very Quiet, The Timberline Review and Rise Up Review. They live in Portland, Oregon. www.ashgood.com