At the Tender Table Yes is an Unclassifiable Pleasure
Playlist by Stacey Tran
I've been thinking a lot about the rich stories we tell through food, and the way we create communities around how we nourish ourselves and each other, what a privilege that is, and what stirs us to seek these out.
1. Masculinity and the Imperative to Prove it
Christine Shan Shan Hou
2. At Harlem Hospital across the street from the Schomburg the only thing to eat is a Big Mac
Samiya Bashir
3. On Eid We Slaughter Lambs & I Know Intimately The Color
Safia Elhillo
4. Ghazal for Becoming Your Own Country
Angel Nafis
5. Fish Carcass
Vi Khi Nao
6. If You Like Piña Colada
Lara Mimosa Montes
7. Heart
Dao Strom
You must wait thirty minutes after eating
before swimming or running around the mall.
I did it once and threw up everywhere.
Not from playing 'Mother May I' or
from shopping.
What did you say?
Sad salad. A sad fish in a salad.
i ride an uber spilling the last of the day’s ginger light
driver handsome enough to pull listening sounds as he chats

our talk is casual at its centre      but at the edges
i taste an old brittleness      memory of something burnt

he circles his mouth to an electronic cigarette
& its vapor braids into the earth & vinegar smell of sweat

you are muslim      he tells me      not a question
& i nod      smile at his smoke-dark eyes in the mirror

i count the prayer beads strung      in a necklace
from his rearview      ninety-nine & perfect      glossy & unworn

mine are sandalwood      & leave their perfume
when cabling through my fingers

drink?      smoke?      he demands an inventory of my wickedness
in the way men of my faith think me immediately theirs

daughter & sister & wife      always a test
& never asking my name

in the rippling mirror      my head uncovered
extra button undone from my shirt

i know this exchange & its right answers
a blink & head shaken no

he squints his endless eyes      at a red light he turns
counts what he sees in my face

& the light drips in to share our ride
new vermillion along our bodies

i blink again & measure his disbelief
i am tired in the new dark

& ready to confirm whatever he decides i am
for a moment of quiet      moment to rest

my loosened hair smells of coal
floats over the backseat like smoke
After Rachel Eliza Griffiths’s “Self Stones Country” photographs

Know what the almost-gone dandelion knows. Piece by piece
The body prayers home. Its whole head a veil, a wind-blown bride.

When all the mothers gone, frame the portraits. Wood spoon over
Boiling pot, test the milk on your own wrist. You soil, sand, and mud grown bride.

If you miss your stop. Or lose love. If even the medicine hurts too.
Even when your side-eye, your face stank, still, your heart moans bride.

Fuck the fog back off the mirror. Trust the road in your name. Ride
Your moon hide through the pitch black. Gotsta be your own bride.

Burn the honey. Write the letters. What address could hold you?
Nectar arms, nectar hands. Old tire sound against the gravel. Baritone bride.

Goodest grief is an orchard you know. But you have not been killed
Once. Angel, put that on everything. Self. Country. Stone. Bride.
fish carcass
say hello to pork rind
+ arborio rice
while castaway caraway puree returns
home to deconstruct wilted carrot
from its butter + herb remnants

fish carcass
say goodbye to a knife fight
between under-marinated onion slice
+ wasted redbor kale
amidst a gun battle between
grilled salmon + paprika

fish carcass
say goodnight to electrolytes + magnesium
as a chemical imbalance takes
place inside the borderline cod meat

fish carcass
say good morning to anti-griddle + orange liqueur
whose pre-conditional love for salt + bitterness
reminiscent of caviar + pancetta vinaigrette
has put quail eggs
under the cloche

fish carcass
say midday to emu eggs while
the sun twirls
inside a decadent basket of
fish sauce without making
the plastic mattress, walk-in
refrigerator, + bacon sabayon
feel left out

fish carcass
say cloud nine
say egginess
say shell-shocked
say cornichon
say it angelo
say italian meringue
say calf liver
say republic of georgia
say lavash
say turnpike turnips
say succotash
say yuzu marmalade
say overcooked quail

say chef teah evans
say fish head
say into a barrel
say bacon fat
say baby corn
say flavor profile
say with victory
say the gods are with me
say no guts no glory
say did not materialize
say story on a plate
What words would you use to describe your inner life? Of the above, none.

If It rests at the edge of thought, like glass, uninterrupted.

Or when we feel (in front of others) that we have suffered enough.

Today, I want you to find a way to forego the grammatical structures you’ve been given.

Leave them behind for someone else, like art, a Basquiat; something that is amargado.

And take stock of what is left.

What parts of you have you abandoned? Which do you miss?

This is what whiteness does to the subjectivities of those it seeks to oppress.

It distorts it, turns it into jargon, which is another way to say Philosophy.

 – ¡Oye, déjate de sanganaria!

 If you like piña colada. (If you do, stop.)

I had an intense desire to undo what undid me and the thing that undid me was the sentence.

A fist full of endocrines. A hepatitis cherry.

My first language was not English, but look how I have mastered it.
we are

tied to men
whose hearts

were tied
at birth, like

pieces of meat
bound in string—

the butcher-chef’s
hands making sure


its shape
once roasted
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