Mycelium by Wilda Morris

At Grandmother's Table circa 1948 by Elizabeth Langemak

Taste by Patridge Boswell

Lullaby by Edward Mayes

Shakespeare by James B. Nicola

Summer Night by Diane Giardi

100 Words on My Father with a Big Fish by Jan Presley

Why go to heaven yet by Margo Davis

Roll Over Beethoven by Jonathan Pacic

limnophila aromatica by Susan Soriano

Bantams by Heather Bourbeau

Salt by Carolyn Wells

It Won't Taste the Same by Michelle Morouse

The Fallacy of Comparisons by Paul Lieber

Ode to End of Summer by Wally Swist

408 Dates with Maureen by Gail Bellamy

Taste Testing by Sarah Fawn Montgomery

A Meditation on Working as a Produce Clerk by Ross Stager

Le Fouquet by Elisa Albo

Two Poems by Sarah Paley

Transubstantiation by Susan O'Dell Underwood

Two Poems by Sharon Abra Hanen

Strawberries by Vincent Peloso

Chin Chin by Jessica M. Brophy

Nonpareil by Lois Rosen

Creating Foodie Monsters by Elisa Albo

Foods I Love by Meredith Drake

Three Poems by Terence Winch

Soufflé by Piscilla Atkins

Three Poems by Gail Peck

Under the Kitchen Floor by Bruce Cohen

Spring Peas Come to the Stores by Hannah Fischer

Two Poems by Grace Bauer

Kettle by Susan Kelly-DeWitt

Going to Get Swedish by Carol Berg

Potluck on Sulphur Creek by Brenda Butka

My Mother's Handwriting by Julia Wendell

Radish by Lauren Henley

The Way of the Buddha by Nadia Ibrashi

Famine Bread by Karen Holmberg

Leer Comida by Andrés Catalán

Cooking Show by Gary Mesick

Museum of Butter by Carol Jenkins

Two Poems by Crystal Simone Smith

Yardbird Suite by John Dufresne

Two Poems

by Sharon Abra Hanen

March 2014    

What My Neighborhood Eats

Gulab jamen, noodle ramen, enchilada pie,
Chocolate cake, t-bone steak, ham and swiss on rye,

Empanada, lamb moussaka, summer rolls and pho,
Pirogy, queso, hummus, knish, tiramisu, cookie dough,

Kim chee, gravlax, squid with ink,
Everything (but the kitchen sink).


Sugar Shines in the Air

Me and Charlie Squawks
take the L
and then a bus
and another bus
and a walk up a hill
and down a long street
with curves and little
fences around the trees
and after the bus
I don't see anyone
who isn't white

We stop at a bakery
with stripes on the awning
and chairs the color
of melted butter
for sweet rolls and coffee
even though it's hot
at not-yet-noon

Tall white Charlie
freckled and friendly
orders for us
but the baker
the waitress
the lady at the register
all keep looking at me

They don't say anything
'til we have our rolls
and start dunking
sweet crumbs falling
in our cups

Then I hear
everyone making a guess
like they could win
some fairground prize
if they get it right
if they could read my blood
if they could label me
like a jar of pickles
or a kind of cake

They whisper
but I can hear
Arab boy
some African blood
maybe he's from
someplace where
they grow coffee
and have wars

Charlie doesn't say
just eats and drinks
like there ain't
nothing going on
nothing worth
a good sweet roll for

Then, when he's almost done
just a couple sips left
same as me
he says
“well, you gonna
keep them guessing?”

He nods his red head
to the counter
and I know he's not
coming with me
I shake my curly head to him
I know
what I gotta do
And he says,
sliding a quarter
across the shiny tabletop,
“While you're making friends,
get us a few more
of those rolls
to take home.”

So I go to the counter and I take
a big breath, quiet,
so no one knows,
and then I say
“I'm Earl.
Those were good rolls.
We'd like some more. And
I'm not any of
those things
you guessed,
though it'd be
fine if I was.
I'm me, and
I'm gonna be
a musician,
and my Pop's pop
was English
and my mother
was from Virginia,
he's white
and she was
black and that's
why I look
like this and
that's fine too.”
Then I run
out of breath.

I hand over
Charlie's quarter
and the waitress
with yellow flowers
sewn on her collar
smiles, and I count
while she puts sweet rolls
in a brown bag and I know
there's one too many
and I'm gonna say something
and she just smiles again,
hands me the bag and says
“for you, Earl”
and the lady at the register says
“there's a music shop
down the street, black door,
almost at the corner”
and she points the direction
we were going
and the baker
at the end of the counter
nods and
eeps putting cookies
in the cabinet and
a little sugar
shines in the air
and I think
I'll come back here
next time
I'm in the neighborhood.


“Sugar Shines in the Air” is an excerpt from Sharon Abra Hanen's verse novel-in-progress, Early Earl and the Late-Night Shine, full of jazz, civil rights conflicts, and the oddities of growing up different in 1963 Chicago.

  Sharon Abra Hanen coaches writers and other creative people. Her food-related writing has previously appeared in Alimentum as part of Menupoems for National Poetry Month, and in Sashay. Find more of her work, including poetry recordings, at www.wellfedpoet.com.


Photo used under Creative Commons.