Two Poems

by Kayleb Rae Candrilli


my momma was real good at cooking birds: chicken & cornish hens & grouse & wild turkey ☐ at 11 i’d 22 shoot turkeys ☐ i’d pluck them until i poke prodded myself to bleed, bled until i blowtorched the smooth downy feathers right off ☐

momma learned to cook at the same pace i learned to kill ☐ and she learned to flavor the tasteless ☐ tenderize the tough ☐ she’d shoot the bird up, inject it with fire taste ☐ momma could always make more of less ☐

and momma shot fire drugs into daddy, too, when he asked for it ☐ and as his eyes rolled to white cloud my momma saw the bright side, said now we can eat in peaceyou carve it this time ☐ and as she passed me the sharpest knife, she’d say:


table manners for when the sex simmers

i cook crockpot style
because i like the idea
of pushing a button
& heating something
all day. keeping it hot.
                   at night,
right before dinner,
the meals sweat hard
when i undress them.
                                      pork tender
                                      loin, beef stew,
                                      the flavors seep in deep
                                      and i don’t let them leave.
i think of sex when i unveil what i’ve made like this.
i think of sex because i am always thinking of sex.
i ladle out broth
             and remember how fiercely
                          i used to come,
                                       how i made irreversible,
                                                    staining messes everywhere.
when my lover sleeps
i stick her with cooking
thermometers and cry. i read the cold
like a clock. raw is dangerous.
undercooked is both of our faults.


at breakfast,
when I ask her
to touch me,
she passes me
the butter, coats me
in grease so that
             i am untouchable,
so that when i reach for her,
             i’ll glance right off
             like it never even happened, like i never even tried.

Kayla Rae Candrilli is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama, and an associate editor for NANO Fiction and the Black Warrior Review. Candrilli was awarded first place in Vela Magazine‘s non-fiction contest, and is published or forthcoming in Rattle, Puerto del Sol, CutBank, Vinyl, The Chattahoochee Review, Cold Mountain Review, and others. You can read more of their work here.