Music to Read By by Duane Spencer

Song from Kitchen Items by Kobi Russell

Spaghetti with Sweet 100 Tomatoes by Mario Batali & One Ring Zero

All That Meat and No Potatoes by Fats Waller

Animal Crackers in My Soup by Shirley Temple

Animal Crackers in My Soup by Shirley Temple

Holey Moley by Duette

Chile Bean by Aileen Stanley

Ripe Tomatoes by Eight O' Five Jive

Shrimp Remoulade by John Besh and One Ring Zero

Smile Like a Candy Jar by Meet The Seavers

Cocobutternutballfudgecake Cream Bar by Scotti Giambusso

Raw Peach by One Ring Zero

Tortellini Tarantella by Scotti Giambusso

Ice Cream by Michael Hearst


T Max

Mr. Timothy Charles Duane

Amanda Hesser

Judith Jones

John T. Edge

Deborah Madison

Clotilde Dusolier

Cotner and Fitch

Busby and Lucas

Carly Sachs

Ramona - Grocery Store Diva
by Carly Sachs

Carly Sachs with cake


The Protest in Aisle Six

Ramona doesn't believe in canned vegetables.
She can't even walk down that aisle in the grocery store
without feeling like she's in a prison.
From behind steel and tin, she hears the green beans
and snow peas join in a chorus of Kumbaya.
Sometimes she'll take out her Swiss Army Knife
and puncture the sweet corn.

Once she got caught by the manager.
She told him the kernels were suffocating,
that earth's bounty can't be contained.
He threatened to kick her out of the store.
But that didn't stop Ramona. Next week
she staged a candle light vigil for the captive produce.
She was a one-woman-protest, passing out leaflets
to all the bargain grabbing mothers who refused to pay
more than two dollars for vegetables.

She gave them cooking tips and recipes,
then redirected them to the organic foods section.
The manager came barreling out of the backroom
to ban Ramona from the store,
but when he saw the conundrum of carts and chatter
where all the pricey produce was located,
he turned mid-stride and scuttled back to his office
wondering if he should order more avocados and Spanish onions.


Buddha-Bellied Squash

They were orange so everyone thought they were pumpkins.
As a girl, Ramona thought they were too.
Fairy-tale wise, it wouldn't have been the same if Cinderella
rode around in a giant squash.
Ramona rubs their bellies to offer solace for all those years
of being misrepresented and misunderstood.

That night at yoga class, she meditates thinking of baby squash.
Breathe in, acorn, breathe out, butternut, breathe in, summer, breathe out, spaghetti.
There is something calming about them.
She thinks of the rows and rows of squash at the Canfield Fair,
the vegetable embodiment of the Buddha.
She makes another pilgrimage to the fair,
hoping to meet the farmers—she wants to know
how many people these large squash can feed.
She thinks they must have plenty of recipes.
She thinks any man who can grow something that big
must surely have a green thumb.

However, it's a woman sitting at the squash booth.
She tells Ramona that these squash are only grown for their size,
but have no other vegetable value—no one actually eats any of these.
"They're only used for their seeds, to breed bigger
and better squash."

The notion of super-size has crept into the agricultural community,
thinks Ramona, aghast, C-sections for seeds.
The woman explains that there used to be thrones for the king
and queen squash, but now they've gotten so big, they'd break the chairs,
so they lost the monarchy of the fair.
From royalty to lab rats Ramona thinks.

She knows what she has to do, but she's going to look suspicious
rolling abnormally large squash around.
She'll have to operate covertly at night,
but what if she squashes someone with a giant squash?
She can see the headlines: Woman kills carnivore
with extremely large vegetables.
She rubs her hand across the large orange, yellow, and green bellies
and says, somehow we'll blow this pumpkin stand.


Contraband Bananas

She's got a banana and she knows how to use it,
the trick is getting it through airport security.
With America on a high alert,
fruit is not allowed to fly.
The president fears fruit will become the next
logical place to hide a bomb.
Currently the government is spending millions of dollars
detonating pineapples and plums to judge
the level of danger to the general public.
At high speeds, the skin of the pineapple
has a shrapnel-like effect.
Consequently, the Dole plant in Hawaii
is under heightened surveillance.
The president says he knows nothing
will get past the honor and integrity of the American citizens
proudly protecting the borders.
However, this does not help Ramona fall asleep at night.
She knows her mission.
When you don't get enough potassium in your system
bad things happen.
Before it's too late and innocent fruit falls
into the hands of the terrorists, Ramona must rectify
their diets. She's working for the CIA,
the Chiquita Intelligence Agency who knows that bananas
are quite possibly the world's most perfect food,
and if everyone had their 4-5 servings a day,
we would be living in a perfect world.


Manicure, Ramona Style

Hunger is something you can never really satisfy.
After lunch is dinner,
which is why people are always falling in love
and going on diets.
Ramona doesn't know which is worse.
Today she goes to the store without a list.
She knows they will call to her
the rutabagas and Romano.
Je suis le fromage!
It's knowing who you are
and what you want,
the olives shimmering like jade and obsidian.
Ramona has always resisted the urge
to glove her fingers in them,
but today she puts them on like rings.
She imagines herself a swami
and a wind blows through the aisles,
her dress soft as lettuce and the whispers
of the pseudo-gourmets the pull of the tides
as she turns the olives around and around her face
waving at the other customers offering them
mystical advice


Carly SachsCarly Sachs teaches creative writing at George Washington University. Her first book of poems, the steam sequence, won the 2006 Washington Writers' Publishing House first book prize. Her poems have appeared in Alimentum, Another Chicago Magazine, Beltway Quarterly Review, Coconut, Poem Memoir Story, No Tell Motel, Runes Review, Best American Poetry 2004 and were part of the inaugural Verse and Vision Project of the Cleveland RTA.