Welcome to Popular Ink's INDELIBLE KITCHEN.

Now get the hell out!

Really, we would love to have you stay but we would feel rude about that as we have left. As in gone, defunct, kaput. We aren't here anymore. Sometimes, when it's late and we are worried about dying, we do believe in reincarnation. So, maybe we will live again. We'll let you know if that happens.


"And still it goes on" by Tabitha Dial

And it still goes on

This time it happened in the car

after dinner—former husband and wife

taking out social mores again,

still hoping to screw one another over.


She probably smelled—

again—of that beautiful black,

almost the deepest brown,

wood and mud and sin-smacking lips

but never like sunshine.

Never like sunshine—

How could he resist her?


It lasted

long enough

for their signals

to reach across the pond

again and again,

playing leap frog

all last summer.

All last summer

they tried to sweeten things.

They scraped their front teeth

against the empty rind for any shred of sweetness

She put her unbroken mouth

over his, reached for his hands—

but the sky still draped

itself in black that night.

It would’ve been perfect

if there had been stars.


A New One by Gentry Hoffman

"The Mating Patterns and Courtship Rituals of Local Campus Rock Doves (you might know them as pigeons)"


"Bobbin Threader By Nature"


"The State-Job-Space-Time


by Gentry Hoffman

I deftly walk the hallway, glancing at faces. They glance at me, sure, and smile reflexively. That's muscle syntax for "I am harmless." I wonder if the hair’s-width chronology of these encounters add up. I wonder if, added together, any of these nano-smiles I pass intuit where I came from, who I've been. Do they read a casual, physical confidence, or do they just see the reciprocating muscles contract to stretch the lips into an eighth-moon, concave-up geometry? Or, do they see harmless? I find this interesting.

These people I know. I see them day after fuckless day. I can tell you names. I can tell you three names: Rebeccah. Robert. The redhead...god, I forget her name. Met her once, not long ago at a show I never in a million would have thought she'd be at. This, after years of "meeting" her around here. That's how it's worked, it's the pattern of local space-time (my physics teacher would push me over an event horizon for breaking those two up). Around here at least.

For the past seven years I've worked for the state, and the patterns are obvious at this point. I've accepted them, which is probably the meat and potatoes paradox of the "state job" continuum. The patterns are thus:

  • You get a "better" job, meaning more pay, benefits, stability, structure and less happiness (also known as a "real job").
  • You learn your job, meet the locals, form inorganic work relationships and romantic ones with people you greatly don't identify with, and you violently resist becoming one of them without realizing it.
  • You master your job to the point of supreme boredom; meanwhile people come and go (see: Turnover) and you hope it's not the cool ones.
  • You begin to loathe your job. Meanwhile, you begin to procrastinate and the quality of your work beings to decline, while ironically your performance evaluations get better and better.
  • They consummate the soul-job transaction by consistently giving you marginal cost-of-living raises, and the random yet slightly larger ones for those great evaluations you've been getting recently.
  • You think to yourself often how you really need to get away from this place.
  • See bullets four and five above. Repeat. Reflect.
  • You become one of them without realizing it.

Ok, so we were at the part of the pattern of seeing people every day for years without meeting them. Right. And so then one day a meeting is facilitated by the gods of chance and random number theory. You meet, you exchange names and so you are now not just a smile. This is nice, this is personal. The pattern is strange: the flirty smiles were always there, but so was the plexiglass wall that always aligned at an angle perpendicular to the line between our smiles. Mathematically, two points in the plexiglass could be used to define our smiles, with a basis vectors at the origin of the tower where we both work. Why did we never speak before? How many smile lines were defined before finally our chance meeting? I find this interesting.

The emotional epaulet "desperate" is fastened by a passant to her right shoulder (looking at her, on my left). It's hard for me to keep from staring at it during our conversation. I can't decide if it's this, or the banality of it all that is disappointingly familiar, but I am not one to hide my stripes either (emotional bobbin threader by nature), and so this makes for an awkward conversation. Little meaningless collisions of nothing. It's like when a feather slams into a feather. As opposed to matter v. antimatter. I'm still waiting do discover the dark stuff. I find this interesting.

At lunch there are animals to deal with. I say "deal with" and not "look at" or "enjoy" because they are very familiar with our patterns. They are urban fauna. Street smart rock doves (you might know them as pigeons), they push and hustle and huckster their way around campus, jostling their way to scraps and bun seeds and the occasional errant french fry. The grackles are ubiquitous and nasty with their audacity. They will swoop/snatch/perch their way from meal to meal. The whole exercise reminds me of Oliver Twist.

Romantically, pigeons and students are inseparable to me at this point. Their mating patters share not only a cadence but a sweetness and a dirtiness. The male student/pigeon is tenacious from the instant of any signal recognition. They are on it, and they can't be stopped. They are young and energized and in it to win it. Little factories of hormones drive-chain the machinery and presto-bango, love! The posturing, the ruffling and preening, the puffing. These are the performance arts of hormone love. The courtship ritual is a dirty-feet street ballet. They workshop these courtships for future performances. They learn their blocking, beat. They learn their faces, beat. They practice their lines, scene.


More Water by Clay Blancett

"I Have the Stones"

"Marineland of Florida"

"The Wreck of Tug 945"

Discuss amongst yourselves.


OK-Water it is, Then by Clay Blancett

"Gilley's Creek"

"Out Nine Mile Rd."

"The James Under 95"


My Interstice by Jay Snodgrass

My life is a white zeppelin over a sporting event.

So up there, I’m all gosh and serrations.

I wish there were another, a dark zeppelin

that would come and do aerial combat with the first.

I would have Ollie North narrate for the History

channel. What a struggle. No one will ever again

notice the athletes murdering their wives.

& every explosion will be a shower of perfectly salted

peanuts, & with the crack of each shell

each person in the stadium will get three more years

to live & go shopping for antique ottomans.

It is the dark zeppelin of my youth, & it is winning,

volleying canon shot after laser beam. & the evil zeppelin

of my life is falling now in to the stadium which

languishes like a woman. Cut to Freud commercial.

Now back to the collapsing evil zeppelin ablaze now

all skeleton, striking mid field the Dolphin’s home game.

O weeping humanity, I need a slushy over here, my life

is so on display. The ribs of the dead zeppelin are my own

window blinds & the neighbors are tearing away from televisions

which means they’re breaking off their own faces

to look in at me, my weeping secrets inferno-ed

& the clouds are trollop heavy, candy soft & what I’m amazed

at is how perfectly gleaming is my black, black zeppelin.



Drums of Chemical Waste by Jay Snodgrass

Under the sledge,

Drums of waste, fruitful waste cavorting

to the transom. Weak wet-kneed belligerence

tinder in the forest dream. Soon this too

will be on fire.

Drums of casket ashes

Drums of wedding vows

stinging waves

cover their barnacled wrists

to hide the shame of it. Ensues

the vacating, the renter’s paradigm.

Meet out the measure of time, one saw

draws across the hope, perilous hope

of clearing the contaminants.

The other, the exhaling saw-stroke,

watches TV on the broken-in couch.

nothing is too sacred.

Exhale to drum

bleat, ash to drum,

steam light & fume-

watch, the wisdom of the drum.

Down in the fish-well the drum, ribbed

luminous monument, forever left of tide

smears its front with dribble, waxes

to the ride.

Soon, even this will be on fire.


"Poemophone: Optima" A Sound Sculpture by Tracey Cockrell

7" x 13" x 12"
typewriter, steel, cherry

The act of typing sets this sound sculpture in motion. "Poemophone: Optima" was used to generate a series of collaborative performances with artists, writers and musicians. "Optima" is the first of an edition of eight similarly altered typewriters--each based on the musical instrument, the mbira. Each altered typewriter has a unique tuning system or voice. Each of these eight "Poemophones" will be sent to one of eight writers who will spend several months developing written compositions for use in performance and recordings.

Detail from "Poemophone" by Tracey Cockrell


"Television" by Ira Joel Haber

"Falling" by Emily Anderson

Following our harrowing escape from the orphanage, we stumbled upon a big empty house on top of a great big cliff overlooking a small circle of the great big sea; seals and baby seals brayed on the beach below.

There was no furniture in that house, only empty rooms made of hard pink granite and soft golden sandstone, sometimes in stripes. The windows had no glass in them at all which caused some of us to wonder whether or not they really were windows, or if they were just holes. Initially I supported the former theory, that the windows were windows, since they were clearly part of a structure that had been designed to be a house, and in fact themselves supported the house’s houseness, by providing vistas like that of the sea for in front of the sink while washing supper dishes, and like by letting in white moths and moonlight, and of giving yellow squares to the stone floor for standing in and jumping through all day long, all of which are things that never happened at the orphanage and supposedly happen in houses, the way mommies and daddies and pets and cows and policemen happen in at or around houses. But events have now led me to the opposite conclusion: that what I believed were windows were simply holes.

At night, through the spaces where the moths and moonlight come, we hear along down the beach the seals’ barking and the baby seals’ squeaking, the waves that we know from daylight to be white crashing against the rocks that are black day or night, and at last, the tear and snag of a motor. Then a pop of light.

That white pop, dipping and jumping, seizing and slumping, apprehends all of us: the seals barking on the beach, our pink and gold house leaning across the black with white sky, the pallid children with wrists sticking from outgrown cuffs leaning so very far out. The only thing that light can never catch is the cliff, so black white light will not see it.

There were as many as twenty-six of us when we left the orphanage during its moment of distraction (while the bathtubs were developing hair and gin and growing grandfathers who were not our grandfathers, while the dark closets were sprouting orphans on cords and rats on vines, while the silk kimonos were unearthing women, steaming laundry, and sweet purply smoke) but now there are not so many of us. Not so many now but also so many then that I have lost count.

The white grows until it is stretched across the beach like a white windowshade. The motor glugs and when it stops the sea is loud and lapping black against the beach. We see men. Men who are not afraid of getting wet up to their knees with black water and men who are not afraid of getting white sand stuck to their wet boots. Men who whisper and work quick. Seals with rolls. Seals with flips.

The white windowshade rolls up with a motor sound. All of us orphans squeeze so close to lean out it’s like there’s only one of us, instead of twenty-six or twenty-five or -four. We watch the shade roll up black. It lets go the streaks of blood and sealshadow on the white beach. Blinks away the pink and gold house and its stretch into sky. Lets go the orphans’ leaning eyes and outgrown clothes: it lets all of us go, but lets one of us go most.

The last day I spent at the house, before I left to meet your mother and make her my wife, I ate a good orphan breakfast, oatmeal, from a big kettle. Even though I was almost grown-up I got caught up again in the old argument, of whether the house’s windows were windows or really holes. Even then I insisted they were windows. I became so angry with the argument that I bit through the oatmeal into my tongue, and tasted some of my own blood. But there was no one to feel sorry for me because by then only I was left.


Presidents by Ira Joel Haber

The Third World in the First Person by Alyssa Kelly

I am tired of myself.

Taking up too much space in the grocery store on an afternoon bruised with stress.

Where is the priest with the bullet in his bathrobe on the lawn of San Salvador morning?

Not on the cereal aisle. Not in my car. Not on the ballot. Not without struggle.

I do not know myself.

Choices are made, milk is drunk, rent was due.

Who am I but a reflection of you? And you and you and you.

Trust the billboard that reminds us to pay attention.

I am trying to listen.

Almost Cheating by Alyssa Kelly

Almost cheating is that almost car wreck

You could see coming, but avoided in

The last second. Except this accident

Is one you sped towards, pressing down the

Gas pedal and unbuckling your seatbelt—

Coming close enough to see the bristles

Of a two-day beard, to hear uneven breath,

To breathe a deepness of his for your own.

But, you averted the kiss that would have

Tasted like Spanish wine and cigarettes,

A harvest of sad-song regret, and the

Unimaginable consequence of

Skin and muscle scraping against asphalt

At seventy-five miles per hour.


Your Basic Love Poem that Can Be Read at Any Wedding by M. C. Boyes

Boyes sent this to us to post because people are always contacting the author asking for recommendations on a poem that can be read at weddings. Boyes noted that people want something accessible and lyrical--nothing too tough. After searching far and wide and coming up empty-handed (well, not really empty-handed--there are a lot of great love poems out there but the accessible ones are over-used), Boyes decided to write the poem that appears below.

Feel free to use it at your wedding. If you do, leave a comment here so Boyes can feel gratified. Boyes has also requested that you send interesting wedding photos to The Indelible Kitchen. We promise to publish the really good ones.

Your Basic Love Poem that Can Be Read at Any Wedding

Things in their most basic form

are the hardest to put words around:

the winged tail of a shrimp.

a freshly washed pillow case,

growing crisp in the autumn air.

The late winter sun

quenching itself on a bowlful

of snow. The half moon

resting, always,

in your right thumbnail.

What I mean is this—

after the long ride home

when the grass is wet, and the dishes

have been dried, and the wrinkles

have begun to set themselves

in lines more broad

than fine, there will be you—

asleep. Your head in its infinite state

of undress. Each hair

set upon another

wrestling against the grains,

that by some unwritten rule,

must form in your blue eyes.

There will be you, again.


Alight, aloft, adrift,

in my arms alone.

There will be you

and me

and we will be

at home.

-M. C. Boyes


Call Me Crazy by James Robert Daniels

PORT TOWNSEND, WASHINGTON, USA, 2006—Our local newspaper conducts a poll. This is the question: “How should we respond to the problem of homelessness in Jefferson County?”

A quarter of the people think that we should “urge the creation of affordable housing.” However, only 2% favor subsidized rent. This is in a county where many working persons search for two, three or four low-wage jobs to pay the rent. This is at a time when the minimum wage in our country is $5.15 per hour. Twenty-five percent of the working families in the United States of America don’t earn enough to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

This American small-town paper suggests the choice of allowing tent cities in public parks. Less than 6% of the citizens like that idea. We know about the tent city that Seattle has had for years. It began secretly in the woods in the middle of the city. Those people have been moved around constantly, ever since the city cracked down and bulldozed the encampment. The latest site is a clean and quiet church parking lot—surrounded by a worried neighborhood—in the suburbs.

There’s another option for us: crack down on illegal camps and prosecute offenders. Seattle has responded to people with nowhere to go. They’ve passed a law against sitting on the sidewalk. Another recent proposal there is to cut down the trees and remove the benches in public parks. Apparently the parks won’t be so attractive (to the homeless) then. New York City responds, as well. The homeless move on when prodded by police or they face arrest. How an unemployed, destitute, homeless person who has been prosecuted is supposed to pay the fine remains a mystery. A quarter of our home town’s survey respondents are all for “cracking down.” Just like the big cities, we would love to kick homeless people out. Let them go to the next neighborhood, the next town, city, county or state.

No word on how the individuals, the families, the elderly and the children we throw out will travel. Where they will go is not our concern.

Nobody seems to know who these people are—these people with no homes and no money, these people we want to fine.

Elaine was one of them, once. She quit her job and moved in order to be with her daughter who, pregnant with twins, was in a car accident. Elaine’s sister kindly opened her home to Elaine and her three children until Elaine could find work. Because of the car accident, Elaine’s daughter gave birth 12 weeks early to twin girls. Less than three weeks later, with those two babies still fighting for their lives, her sister’s house burned down. They were, all of them, suddenly homeless.

Carol had been out of work for three years and was still looking for a job, any job, when her unemployment compensation ran out. Katherine, a stranger, helped Casrol out until she found work. Then Katherine’s employer (perhaps the largest retailer in the world) fired her because of her disability (in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, incidentally).

Elsewhere in the land, Madeline, her husband and their five children found out the hard way that a water pipe under their house had been leaking. They suddenly got an unbelievable water bill from the City of Baltimore. They fixed the pipe and paid extra on their utility bill for months. That wasn’t good enough. The city sent them a notice that the land under their paid-off home would be seized and sold at auction for the balance they still owed: $310.09.

These folks are the lucky ones. With a little help from family, friends and strangers; with perseverance and hard work, in time, they’ve all got back to living from one paycheck to the next. The thing is, this can happen to anyone.

Elaine and Carol and Katherine and Madeline were not homeless. They have faced houselessness. Jessica, on the other hand, was homeless at age 20. She was completely alone in Union Square in New York City, with nothing but a few clothes and a tin cup. Someone cared enough to give her shelter for five days, until she could get herself into a place to live and a new, self-sufficient life. Jessica collected $2.68 in her tin cup on that day. She used it to help another stranger, a mother of three children, pay her rent.

I’ve been houseless in the past. I have not yet been homeless. Houselessness is not something to be feared, however awful you may think that would be for you. Like poverty, being without a place to live is just another obstacle. Sure, it can be overwhelming. When you are poor in America, everything is a struggle. If you have to give blood to get gas money to look for work, to make enough to go somewhere and apply for a “permanent job,” you are afraid of failure. When you wonder whether you’ll run out of gas at the end of the day and end up at the side of the road, with no way to even get back to your temporary “home,” you know fear.

But that is not the meaning of “homelessness.” Homeless means that you have nobody to turn to. It means that you have not only no shelter, but that you have no community, no family, not a single person in the world who will take you in. This very real fear rules the lives of many Americans today.

A survey conducted recently by Woman’s Day Magazine asks, “If you were laid off from work today, what could you afford to buy?” The overwhelming response, at 68% across the land, is this: “A pack of tissues to sob into.”

So what about that survey in our town? Here is the overwhelming, number-one response. The question: “How should we respond to the problem of homelessness in Jefferson County? Our answer: Focus on social programs that deal with mental health and substance abuse.”

Well, such programs may be a good idea for all of us. There are crazy people on our streets and drug addicts in our parks. Just as there are crazy people and drug addicts in our towns, cities, suburbs, offices and, yes, even in our capitol. But I thought the question was about homelessness. Call me crazy.

This essay originally appeared in Spring Hill Review, June 2005.