“Cold Carrot Curry” and Other Poems, by Joan Leotta

Cold Carrot Curry

Remnants of last night’s carrot curry,
our weekly vegetarian meal, 
sit in the square glass bowl
on the bottom refrigerator shelf.
I lift the silicone lid,
Sniffing, and inspect the
swirls of brown cumin and ginger
playing about the edges of slim
carrot disks and rotund chickpeas.
Congealed bright yellow oil, 
frames the carrots,
envelopes the chickpeas.
Aroma of ginger tempts my 
hunger and I pull it out.
Like a paisley symphony, an
edible silken sari, it calls to me.
With naan, I scoop up a portion 
of yesterday’s meal,
joining the separate flavors, textures 
in the heat of my mouth.
I reach for a glass of pomegranate juice
to toast my discovery that carrot curry 
is a dish best served cold.

A slightly longer version Published  by Gnashing Teeth in their Fall 2019Anthology “Heat the Grease, We’re Frying Up Some Poetry”

A Platter of Mezze

Nightly, I watched this young man
dodging traffic
to cross the street at sunset
while keeping tight hold on 
a large platter.
I could set my clock by his,
arrival, when the sun sets.
I guessed he was bringing 
Iftar goodies to 
friends living in my building.
It became a ritual,
in that time of Ramadan, 
just before dusk, in the glow of the moon
to glance out my window
to spot my neighbor’s mezze messenger.
One evening I was 
in the lobby.
I held the door for him.
He thanked me, smiled, and spoke:
"Please, lift the tray cover,
Take some dates. Try the katayef."
I smiled. "No, thank you."
He continued to the elevator 
to break fast with his friends.
Not long after 
that Ramadan
I moved from that 
apartment and forgot 
about my smiling friend.
Last night, a photo
of my mezze messenger 
filled the screen on CNN
and told of a fiery fate.
The announcer spoke his name,
"Moath al-Kasasbeh";
My first thought was, 
"Who will bring the mezze now?"
If only my tears could quench flames.

A Platter of Mezze ….. first published in Inspiration of the Heart, March 21 2015, Melinda Cochrane website and is in my chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, from Finishing Line Press

Arborio Rice

Creamy, al dente grains,
redolent of porcini mushrooms
rest in my bowl.
I lean over my bowl, 
spoon in hand.
As I chew, a song drifts
into my mind—Bella Ciao.
It’s the theme of
women wading in 
marshy rice canals
fighting for a living wage
singing songs of protest,
songs that become the
themes of resistance fighters—
Bella Ciao.
I lift a spoon, again savor 
thoughtfully, the
smooth chew of their words.
True risotto cannot be made 
without Arborio rice;
cannot be served
without the flavor 
of the history of all those
beauties who sang Bella Ciao.

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her poems, articles, essays, and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Ekphrastic Review, Pine Song, A-3 Review, When Women Write, Verse Visual, and Verse Virtual, Mystery Tribune, anti-heroin chic, Drunk Monkeys, and others. She has been a Tupelo Press 30/30 author, and a Gilbert Chappell Fellow. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is out from Finishing Line Press. Her chapbooks Nature’s Gifts is free from Stanzaic Stylings. Dancing Under the Moon and Morning by Morning, mini-chapbooks are free through Origami Press. As a performer, she tells folk and personal tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women.

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