“You’re from Ohio. Have you had
“Cincinnati chili tastes
like gunpowder and blood in an alley,
And the rapidity of the heart
before it stills;
The crunch of white onions
and the burn of bitter formaldehyde.
It smells like sliced brown beef
And the flowers poised like offerings
Around a young person who became
In truth I remember little of the chili
Only the people there eating it, too.
There was a man hunched over his bowl
Spoon clutched tight in his hand
I imagined it was the hand that
Ripped the life from him
And I hoped it might be
So that I might hope he
A life for a life.
He was just a man
Tasting his chili
And I was a girl
Eating salty tears and ashes.”
Instead of this I say
“I tasted it once.
I didn’t like it.”