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Art direction by Yasmin Reshamwala and photography by Sara Fox

Issue 112, Spring 2021

Six Poems



Oh, it’s just a Tuesday night in a panoramic. 
I’m on the phone with Jericho and we are 
discussing the Reuben sandwich. “I never 
remember what a Reuben is . . . Jericho 
muses. I leap into action—exciting to know 
the answer for once! “Well, it’s corned beef, 
and . .  .” “I know what a Reuben is, Tarfia!” 
Jericho interrupts, laughing. “I just don’t 
know what it IS, as in, I don’t remember what 
it tastes like.” “Hmmm,” I consider. “I wish 
we could transfer that kind of data faster.” 
A feeling washes over me. I think it is the 
future. He orders the fish and chips. I feel a 
little sad. “I’m a little sad,” he says. He is 
looking for the mask. It is stranger this is 
not stranger, or a metaphor. How long will 
we go on? The trees do not answer; 
they are trees . . . 
                          sauerkraut, thousand island
                             dressing, rye bread, swiss cheese.




My friend francine lives in Houston. 
Sometimes, on a soft and charmed evening, 
she FaceTimes while she’s cooking. “Baby
bok choy,” she croons. The screen pauses. 
I consider again the inevitable onset of 
twilight. Then, “Polenta, baby!” Her curls 
prance or pirouette—it is difficult to do 
them justice. She reminds me to cherish 
preparation as a process. francine never
wants to talk anymore once it’s time to 
I respect that.


Art direction by Yasmin Reshamwala and photography by Sara Fox

Art direction by Yasmin Reshamwala and photography by Sara Fox



1. fried catfish 
2. cheesecake
3. sticky toffee pudding 
4. lasagna 
5. peach cobbler with ice cream 
6. bbq chicken 
7. coke float 
8. dr. pepper float 
9. chicken tenders 
10. mac-n-cheese
11. mashed potatoes
12. loaded baked potatoes
13. french fries
14. cheese fries with bacon 
15. bacon 
16. cheese sticks 
17. doritos 
18. sour cream-n-onion potato chips (ruffles, or lay’s stacks) 
19. rice krispies treats with chocolate chips 
20. oreo cookies 
21. fudge-striped cookies
22. snap’d
23. cookies-n-cream ice cream 
24. black walnut ice cream 
25. fried jalapenos 
26. fried green tomatoes (with calamari on the same plate) 
27. calamari 
28. wheat thins? 
29. cheese puffs 
30. spaghetti with meat sauce 
31. grilled cheese sandwich (with bacon and/or pickles) 
32. chicken-fried steak 
33. cinnamon toast crunch (the only one) 
34. ro-tel dip 
35. fried and stuffed shrimp 
36. BLT 
37. funnel cake 
38. corn dogs 
39. chicago mix popcorn 
40. pizza (pepperoni) 
41. pork chops (delicious haram) 
42. chocolate chip cookies (with pecans) 
43. ice cream sandwiches  
44. potato salad
45. pecan pie 
46. key lime pie
47. biscuits 
48. rolls 
49. chicken pot pie 
50. baked beans
51. crispy chicken sandwich 
52. cornbread
53. tuna fish/chicken salad 
54. crab cakes 
55. cinnamon rolls
56. honeybuns 
57. krispy kreme donuts 
58. breakfast sausage 
59. french toast 
60. chilaquiles 
61. hash browns 
62. waffles (pecan)
63. short rib short rib short rib
64. bread pudding with raisins 
65. scrambled eggs with cheese 
66. harvest grain nut pancake
67. quiche 
68. hush puppies 
69. kulfi (brown people ice cream)




My grandmother had a saying which translates to, “Since I’ll die, should I do nothing? If I survive, what will I eat?” 

This reminds me of a lyric in “Soul Food,” a song by Mississippi hip-hop artist Big K.R.I.T. “Out here in this world, just tryna make it / Everything I see, sometimes I can’t take it / But damn I really miss those times / that soul food’s on my mind.” Dadu was widowed young; she raised my father and his siblings alone in a small fishing village in Bangladesh. Imagine burying your partner, only to build the walls of your own house with bamboo stalks to shelter your two sons and daughter. 

All evening, I badger my parents to help me translate. “The idea of death may suppress your drive / Think what is ahead in case you survive,” my father rewrites in verse. “In other words, you have to work to eat,” summarizes my mother. I watch her neatly cube chicken into a steel bowl while my father pours milk. 

Maybe my parents are kind to themselves when they miss their mothers. I’d like to think so. I’d like to invite my grandmothers and Big K.R.I.T. over for a long and leisurely supper. I’d like to set us a sumptuous seasonal table. I’d like to seat us beneath a chandelier of fireflies and Texas sky. 




For a spell, I lived sheerly on instincts, talent, 
and a few smokes to get me by. Lately, 
I’ve been asking for more. I’d enjoy 
taking y’all to the Patel Bros in Irving, i.e. 
They have “magic” masala Ruffles! There’s 
a chaat house next door, where they serve 
a nice cha and hot dosa to go. If you’re looking 
for pigeons, you’ll find plenty. That’s not why 
I’m writing, though. Listen, I have a big problem: 
I cannot figure out how to write “aha”—
not the expression of triumph or satisfaction 
after a win or a revelation, but how my mother 
says it—aha, musical and pained 
with understanding. I.e., after a death. Ah-ha. 
after a regret. Augh-ha. Agh-ha. Aaha? 
Why can’t I get it right? Will you help? Will you 
help build monuments large enough to revere 
our nation’s most tender sounds? 



-with a line by Rabindranath Tagore 

to be exactly where you want to be—here 
in the parking lot where the light dents 
storefront windows and a sister in hijab + 
baseball hat leans toward a brother . . .

ginger and garlic
mixed pickle
chai chai 

say the signs a family strolls 
past the past on a simple enough afternoon 
the father cradles a phone to light a bidi 
the good daughter waits for the mother 
to catch up while the good son 
expertly maneuvers a cart off the curb . . .

Tea India 
free estimates 
tax preparation 

we regard each other or don’t 
a bit of scripture dangles off of a rearview 
two sets of friends tailgate laughing 
open trunks face each other . . . 

glamour hair designs
money transfer 

and an auntie whose eyebrows remind you 
of another auntie you haven’t seen in eons
smiles—we live in the same village
and that is our one piece of joy—

taste happiness
inspiring new traditions

I respect that.



Tarfia Faizullah

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Seam, winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. The daughter of Bangladeshi parents, Faizullah was raised in Midland, Texas, and now lives in Detroit.