Monthly Archives: January 2020

Two Girls Sit on a Patchwork Couch by Chloe Kerr-Stein

Afternoons I visited her, and
beneath the rainfall on her roof
cotton blankets wrapped around us I
drank in each of her syllables. She helped me
find the right shape with my own tongue,
giving my hand a squeeze when I got one right.
Half my words were nonsense. She pretended not to notice.
I envied her vocabulary, and hoped one day I would be able to
jinx her with a word like inconsequential or trivial or barbaric and
know what it meant. You’ve probably guessed I
loved her. So I stuck around like the smell of
mulch in her backyard. I remember she took
me there once to smell the jasmine. She
never minded when I pronounced the word wrong
or forgot which flowers are feminine, so I thought she loved me back.
Pity me. Imagine the
quiet tears I shed when I finally
remembered the shape of those words.
She had helped me sound them out
thinking they were for someone else.
Time after time I practiced until the
vortex of sound opened up to me and on
Wednesday I told her I loved her and the
xenial melody of her voice responded
yes. That’s how you pronounce it.

Chloe Kerr-Stein will be studying Writing and Literature at UCSB in the fall. She has studied at the California State Summer School for the Arts and the Kenyon Young Writer’s Studio. She has been published in the 826 Quarterly, The Junkyard, and the Bay Area Book Festival’s Youth Poetry Anthology. 

A letter to M. F. K. Fisher about Thai leftovers in the morning by Ralph J. Long Jr.

Mary Frances

Six empty bottles stand witness to last night’s folly.
I should be past mornings where alcohol fueled
camaraderie brings pain and remorse. Cider, wine,
brandy have left only the soles of my feet without
complaint. The muted refrigerator light behind curry
stained boxes pierces, even my eyes are part of the
litany of distress. To soothe the morning, my friends
want the full American: Bloody Marys, coffee, eggs,
toast and bacon. I crave water, not the false reset of
vodka. The sounds of percolation and frying turn my
headache into a storm. I bless the soft rain that mutes
the high-pitched calls of songbirds. I fight the warm
allure of bed. Sleep must wait until suffering recedes.
Hope lies in the leftover containers of larb with fish
sauce and puckering lime; in tiny eggplants napped
with Thai basil, and chilies and lemongrass nestled in
noodles ready for a minute of microwave rejuvenation.
If only recovery was as easy as pressing start.

I’ll write about the Gravenstein blossoms soon,

Ralph J. Long Jr. is the author of the chapbook, A Democracy Divided (The Poetry Box, 2018). His work has appeared in Stoneboat Literary Journal, The Poeming Pigeon, The Avocet and the anthology Ambrosia: A Conversation About Food. He graduated from Haverford College and lives in Oakland California.