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all my eggs were raw and mixed with pearls of rice



I didn’t trademark in the spoon

like the composite “betty” who 

lacked the epicanthic

I didn’t cookie mix or bisquick

didn’t render brownies deemed “Supreme”

all my dumplings puffed up creamy 

in the bamboo steamer

I clicked my wooden chopsticks

over glossy rolls of sushi and sashimi

I was lost to definitions:

e.g., Latin spatula (not paddle)

e.g., Dutch oven (not the wok)

I grew up with the chicken-hearts 

and kidneys, sizzling on the grate 

of the hibachi, with stir-fried soba 

slick with sesame, with pickled radishes

and sweet red-bean. I only later learned

the devil’s way of making cake I served 

up on a platter ringed with dragons

i, cherry

                with lines from Never Rarely Sometimes Always

…whatever musked his sweat: his hand under my hem:

that boy—How many in your life-

time? pressed


intent, the slight articulations of my wrist. A mirrored ball was spinning


as raw as black molasses…that


boy—How many? who strut who fuck who smell like hubris

At what age did you first have sex? who crossed


the tracks who paid

to take me to the movies—How many

in the last 12 months? How many on the death

ramp to the high school?

you’ve got to pick up every stitch



They’re hanging in the fullness of a late October moon: witches, especially the single ones or green—Titubas or Sarahs or Endoras, twitching in the branches of our lust-filled dreams. Waldensians, brewing mischief. They rub the stuff down under: musty hemlock, black henbane, hallucinogenic mandrake. They ride the ointment in a pipe they slang the “laying”— gallop off, so charged and sensed with heresies, astride a greased stick or broom. So vigorous (hysterical!)—Jump! they squeal, jump the blossoms of the autumn, jump higher than the crop rows. They scream bloody murder.



Kathleen Hellen’s latest collection Meet Me at the Bottom was released in Fall 2022. Her credits include The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin, her award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, her work has appeared in Barrow StreetThe Carolina QuarterlyColorado Review, Harpur Palatejubilat, Massachusetts ReviewNew LettersNorth American ReviewPoetry NorthwestThe RumpusThe Sewanee ReviewSubtropicsThe Sycamore ReviewWaxwingWest Branch, and elsewhere.

ISSN 2632-4423

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