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Poet of the Month: ‘How to Eat an Oyster,’ by Daniel Horowitz

Come to terms with the materiality of tongues of all persuasions.

                        Lover : she may say to you,
in the chill of greengrey evenings, dismal with ugly clouds,
that cups of hot water will be sufficient to pacify you.
Whisper to her, “Usually. But I am too accustomed to
keeping the company of unhappy women.”

                        Beards and grains of wood swirl mystically
—when hauntings appear in their chains and jewels reeking of ozone
you must sit down, eat, and discuss new ways of living without god.

                        It is not autumn all the time, though goodbying.
You lay your leopard carpets, leopard carpets with the faces
of dead Habsburgs in their spots. Sit. Stay a while.
Whisper, “I have been collecting iller and iller fitting pants.”

                        First kisses! Remember. Hormonal feints.
“Puberty : it’s a helluva drug!” Be careful.
Krazy Kat Goes A-wooing is playing on the old TV.
“Something dead,” in a midnight thought you think—
“Something dead should not be, if it must be dead,
so soon dead.” Sea salt. And lemon. And parsley.

                        Is this it? Your whispers—can you speak?
Whispers : “I’ve been trying to find the right diet
to make my sweat sweet-smelling.” Oysters. Though expensive.
But the garden : it is filling with babies. And. “One must
make oneself feel classy, mustn’t one?”

                        Oysters go with no wine at all.
Waves. Waves. Unhappy women : the aphrodisiac
is that bitterness remains edible. A whisper in return,
“Hold old are we? I’m shy about my age? Shy about the paleness
of my lips? Why can’t you be shy about… this… ritual?”

                        And what does our oyster say?
“Touch. I have a beard because I am wise. I have died
so others may live.” We all begin to laugh or rather to tickle.


Daniel Horowitz is The Inquisitive Eater's Poet of the Month for January 2018.

Daniel Horowitz is a farmer, teacher and writer from New York City. His heart lives in New Orleans, where the swamp of dreams speaks in the burst bubbles of an alligator’s last breath. Meanwhile, he pursues his MFA in Creative Writing from the New School and learns from children in Brooklyn Public Schools what the trees say in Prospect Park. His chapbooks, Chorus: A Poem for Voices and becuz can be found on Amazon.com (and if you ask him), learn more on his website lettersandessays.com, send cash not gifts.

Featured image: “Sandra Bruno Straightens a Pillow in the Immaculate Living Room of Her Family’s Home at 39 Neptune Road” from The U.S. National Archives

Poet of the Month: ‘Calories: The Poem,’ by Daniel Horowitz

           “BODY: If we knew how our body is made,
           we wouldn’t dare move.”
                  —Flaubert

We’ll combust. Faintness creeps like a pang
an ingrown toenail—drift: my tummy… And you
standing still, staring at produce like a thigh. Grumbling,
our burn—sweating at cornucopia, hot river gods—
peanut butter’s goo and nut meat, warm:
texture of the womb—pastas well cooked
given under unwise teeth, pleasing—iced cream,
salt on pretzels, slight burn, throat’s dumbshow
its physicality—consumption, a lunged gulp.
Hunger at the hardness of a fresh pepper, red and
like you. Meat’s sponge and animal dung appeal:
also warmth, organ meat’s scented faint piss—
animals, burned to our burn: chewing and alive…

Like all gluttony it is only the indirect flare of desire
to have the world reduced to a few monumental objects:
a mountain, a bowl of beans, a truck, you my dear, and my mouth.


Daniel Horowitz is The Inquisitive Eater's Poet of the Month for January 2018.

Daniel Horowitz is a farmer, teacher and writer from New York City. His heart lives in New Orleans, where the swamp of dreams speaks in the burst bubbles of an alligator’s last breath. Meanwhile, he pursues his MFA in Creative Writing from the New School and learns from children in Brooklyn Public Schools what the trees say in Prospect Park. His chapbooks, Chorus: A Poem for Voices and becuz can be found on Amazon.com (and if you ask him), learn more on his website lettersandessays.com, send cash not gifts.

Featured image: “The Couple,” by Karl Kasten.

‘Questions for Anthropophagists,’ by Don Hogle

With a thermometer plunged
into one orifice or another, a body
should register an internal

temperature of 98.6, more or less,
which begs a question of cannibals:
what’s the accepted safe minimum?

Poultry is reliably done at 170, pork
somewhat less. Beef and lamb, well,
there’s rare or well done. And what

about preparation: spiced and minced?
marinated or brined? Don’t forget
presentation – plattering matters.

The heart makes a good garnish,
red-petaled and splayed like a radish,
its blossom, proof that a knife

once sliced it. Is it reasonable
to believe we must suffer in love?
Should we expect it to hurt just a bit?


Don Hogle was the winner of the 2016 Hayden’s Ferry Review poetry contest as selected by Alberto Rios and a finalist in the 2015 Northern Colorado Writers and Aesthetica Creative Writing contests. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Chautauqua, Mud Season Review, Minetta Review, Blast Furnace, New Verse News and Shooter and A3 Review in the U.K. among others. He lives in Manhattan. www.donhoglepoet.com

Featured image via Flickr.

Poet of the Month: ‘Their Sex Life,’ by Liora Mondlak

Where was Bernard? She wiped spilled sugar
from the gold-flecked Formica table and began
preparing deviled eggs. Henrietta thought about the day
she’d told him the good news, right after the Herring Festival.
She ate a candied apple at the bar and he’d shouted,
“Sambuca for everyone!” And how months later she’d sat
at this very table, timing her contractions while anthrax
updates aired on CNN. He was getting his beard trimmed
at the barbershop when she called to say, “It’s time!”
In the elevator at Mt. Sinai she knew not even morphine
could save her now. Bernard bought a bag of salted Fiji
almonds in the gift shop, and the male nurse warned him,
“None for Henrietta, only ice chips!” She hated the nurse
and the COURTESY COUNTS button pinned to his scrubs.
She hadn’t eaten in twenty-four hours, and what she wanted
even more than Demerol were oysters. A dozen slippery
oysters nestled in those ice chips. The way she’d had them
at the café on Rivington Street the night she knew
she was pregnant. Henrietta put the plate of deviled eggs
on the table. She’d dyed the whites pink, and stuck sprigs
of something fragrant and green in the creamy centers.
Bernard phoned, he was running late as usual, “Don’t start
without me.” He said he was hungry for something
cooked with love.


Liora Mondlak is The Inquisitive Eater's Poet of the Month for December 2017.

Liora Mondlak remembers accompanying her mother to the market in Mexico City, where she grew up. She remembers the chickens hanging by their feet, and the sawdust around her saddle shoes. Years later, she would return to the market to buy ground chameleon, a well-known love potion, which she uses sparingly.

She lives in New York with her teenage daughter, where she teaches art and poetry. Lioramondlak.com

Featured image via Pixabay.

‘Let it Brie,’ by Pune Dracker

Because there are many cheesy sentiments, but not many sentiments about cheese.

Dear Camembert,

How I miss your smiling face! Not only were you a stinky liar—a demure 7 ounces, your nutrition label claimed to serve 35!—but when I saw you on sale, unwanted and about to expire, I doubted your fatty goodness. After all, what kind of French cheese costs $1.99?

Oh, you were creamy! But not the mighty 3,500 calories you claimed to be. Did you give a sh*t? No, no whey.

And until the very end you laughed, living large in a fat-free world.

 


Pune Dracker is studying creative nonfiction at the New School. She writes, runs and dances, and is a huge proponent of sauerkraut.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Poet of the Month: ‘Crazy Land,’ by Liora Mondlak

“What’s good here?” we ask the waitress with Hello Kitty barrettes. In a suburb of Nagasaki there are fourteen fruit-flavored bus stops, where the children wait out another golden summer. The buses take you along Highway 207 to the coastal towns on the Ariake Sea. You can linger in a small café over a plate of Thousand-Year-Old Eggs, or a bowl of Grasp at Good Luck Noodles. After lunch you might walk to a traveling carnival called Crazy Land, where a contortionist squeezes himself into a small transparent cube. Some parents like to take their birdlike babies on the Caterpillar Roller-Coaster, others head to the Whirling Tea Cups. The waitress suggests we buy two bottles of Four Precious Jewels Ice Tea, and look for the games of chance at the far end of the boardwalk, where gulls wait for sea cucumbers to wash up.


Liora Mondlak is The Inquisitive Eater's Poet of the Month for December 2017.

Liora Mondlak remembers accompanying her mother to the market in Mexico City, where she grew up. She remembers the chickens hanging by their feet, and the sawdust around her saddle shoes. Years later, she would return to the market to buy ground chameleon, a well-known love potion, which she uses sparingly.

She lives in New York with her teenage daughter, where she teaches art and poetry. Lioramondlak.com

‘Like an Apple,’ by Chelsea Wolf

On the day I ate my lover’s heart
I used the fingernail of my index finger
– the longest of them all –
to slit him
straight down the middle.
I cracked his sternum like a walnut
leaving the shell of him behind.
I yanked
until it lay beating
– glossy and red –
in both hands.
I bit into it
With a crunch.
And the juice, his blood, ran down my face.
I wish he could have seen me then,
So alive, picking his pulp from my teeth
With the sharpest piece of rib.
I don’t know what else to tell you –
Other than it was a Tuesday.


Chelsea Wolf is an overly caffeinated writer and musician living in New York City with her four rescue cats. She is currently working towards her MFA in Creative Writing at The New School. Follow her on twitter: @chelswolf

Featured image via Pexels.

Poet of the Month: ‘Could it be in Longing We are Most Ourselves?’ by Liora Mondlak

The Big Mamou is closed
now. You used to be able
to go in and order a dish
called southern eel, and stay
all night.


Liora Mondlak is The Inquisitive Eater's Poet of the Month for December 2017.

Liora Mondlak remembers accompanying her mother to the market in Mexico City, where she grew up. She remembers the chickens hanging by their feet, and the sawdust around her saddle shoes. Years later, she would return to the market to buy ground chameleon, a well-known love potion, which she uses sparingly.

She lives in New York with her teenage daughter, where she teaches art and poetry. Lioramondlak.com

Featured image via Pixnio.

Essay of the Month: ‘Against Food,’ by Mika Bar-On Nesher

I

I hate going to restaurants, especially ones with dim lighting. I like food that tastes like cardboard, preferably just rice. I know it’s an art form for some. I watch my partner read every single ingredient on whatever product she buys, handling her sharpened knife like a serial killer. Going to the supermarket with her means I’ll be waiting by the cashier clutching rice and avocados for twenty minutes as she goes on scheming, pacing up, down, and around all the aisles. I get it. Her brother is a cook. They like discussing different body parts of fish, different degrees of dark chocolate, and so on. To me, food tastes good if it’s made by someone I love, and that’s the only criteria. Having worked in too many restaurants, I assure you the employees don’t wash their hands, the chefs are mentally strained, the servers are underpaid. It’s a terrible industry and I don’t understand what’s wrong with just wanting to eat rice twice a day until I die. The phrase “food porn” makes me uncomfortable. I do not find food in itself sensual—fruits, vegetables, raw meat. I have a hard time decorating my hunger. It’s not the food that’s sensual after all, but the appetite. Often my lack of participation in food pleasures makes others defensive, or they criticize me, diagnose me, show concern. I ate my first strawberry at age twenty-one. I didn’t like it. An entire short lifetime of resisting peer-pressure ended in one anticlimactic bite into that fuzzy, red triangle people will not give up. Food is emotional. Food is expensive. Food keeps us alive. It’s complicated from every angle.

 

II

Food and femininity are painfully aligned. I see my grandma frying schnitzels in sweatpants. She has been preparing the same meals for over fifty years. She’s obsessed with feeding us, haunted by night terrors about our stomachs. She’s brilliant—without finishing high school in Poland, she was able to climb up and manage Israel’s leading hospital. She did this in her thirties after giving birth to my mom when she was only nineteen. Her dream was to become a lawyer. She texts the members of my family daily to check when was the last time we had eaten, and what we want her to make us next. She is the food giver. It’s her channel of love and care taking. My grandpa is very fat. At seventy-six he can’t eat anymore. He’s finally full. On the verge of tears, he screams at her to stop making him chicken, but she, like many brilliant people, tends to be obsessive and thorough in her misplaced mission to ensure none of us will starve. Food no longer depends on a women’s imprisonment in domesticity alone, but someone somewhere is always carrying the weight, paying the price for this cavernous industry.

 

III

A few years ago I tried dating a man. It was a short, exhausting failure. What struck me most about that experience was discovering that men complain about their appearance and weight even more vocally and less shamefully than women do. When men express these food anxieties, they are not usually judged or diagnosed, they are answered seriously, laboriously, by the ear at hand. I asked my three straight friends for confirmation, and they agreed this was common. Some of them are unwell, but their masculinity will not allow visibility of their vulnerability. Many women are doing just fine, but their individuality is threatening to the long-held gender roles, specifically those regarding food and the female body. The boundaries of our bodies in space seem to be controlled so painfully by food. The relationships between space, gender, and food are inevitable. I remember sitting on a stool in a kitchenette during my freshman year of college, legs crossed, hand under chin. Suddenly, someone remarked how feminine I was, like a revelation. Surprised, I objected defensively. In my experience, I had always felt neither feminine nor masculine, just a gaze. Others joined in, and the more I objected to this intrusive adjective and the way it rang, resonating the gestures of my mother, the more they insisted. I won’t deny it if that’s what people see, but why does such an arbitrary binary allow for boundaries of my space to evaporate? Coded a femme woman, what I eat or don’t eat becomes a public forum for discussion. Anything a woman does that does not align with the social codes of expectation becomes a platform for diagnosis.

 

IV

I cannot think of anything more private than my intestines, so why are we constantly searching for external authorities on food: how to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and so on. In reality, it’s a lawless, genderless realm based purely on self-knowing and adjustment. In a privileged society, it’s possible to say each body is different, we all react differently to different ingredients, we all feel strong at different weights. The shallow aspects, the symptoms of food, are carried so publicly and insensitively while the burning core is completely ignored. Instead of policing each other’s plates and discussing diets while surrounded by nauseating abundance, why aren’t we asking how to treat our food givers with the respect they deserve and have never received? The funds surrounding food are mysterious. The amount of money that goes into branding those awful frozen pizzas or food reality TV shows could feed at least one of the nine million who die of hunger each year. I’m not that naive. I grew up in the 1990’s when there was a lot of talk about world hunger, cheesy all-star celebrity music videos, and intense anxiety over the ozone layer. Food is intoxicating. The most complex aspects of our lives end up being institutionalized the most easily. I’ve been too fat through one eye and too thin through another eye. These unstable calculating eyeballs of ours are misdirected in their informational fevers. For such smart animals we can’t seem to figure out our own hunger. Perhaps we could be kinder when trying to understand one another’s hunger.

 


Mika Bar-On Nesher is multidisciplinary artist and writer based in Brooklyn & Tel-Aviv, she studies creative writing at the New School.

Featured image by Mika Bar-On Nesher.

Poet of the Month: ‘Iron Chef,’ by Liora Mondlak

Donatella: A smart story, even though it’s a salad.
                    I particularly love the Portuguese
                    laurel with its dark-red perfumed
                    flowers. I’ve tasted them only once before.

Laurence: I spotted some on my way here. In the garden
                    next to the Birds’ Fountain.
                    This is a very vinaigretty cocktail.

Gina:          I lived on the border of the Basilica
                    and ate bitter gooseberries near the mouth
                    of the river. I’m an escargot
                    fan from way back.

Laurence: You wouldn’t expect escargot and corn
                    to harmonize so well. I secretly drink
                    skim milk and dream of a British country
                    home. I’ve always wanted someone
                    to call me The Master.

Donatella: The Brussels sprouts add just the right amount
                    of bitterness. They have a bite and piquancy
                    entirely their own. Any more would have been
                    too much. Pass the gnocchi, please.

Laurence: I took the train here from Valencia, past
                    the grazing lambs. Past the orange
                    groves. I’m not usually a gnocchi guy.

Gina:          The lambs eat from the fallen fronds
                    in the Queen’s Fern Valley. The trees grow
                    twelve meters and naturally regenerate.
                    I don’t understand it but I love it.

Donatella: In Japan, I chased a lover around a milk-bush.
                    We squeezed the leaves between our fingers,
                    which expels a poison. In small amounts
                    it is delicious. Such a tender lamb.


Liora Mondlak is The Inquisitive Eater's Poet of the Month for December 2017.

Liora Mondlak remembers accompanying her mother to the market in Mexico City, where she grew up. She remembers the chickens hanging by their feet, and the sawdust around her saddle shoes. Years later, she would return to the market to buy ground chameleon, a well-known love potion, which she uses sparingly.

She lives in New York with her teenage daughter, where she teaches art and poetry. Lioramondlak.com

Photo via Pixabay.