2019 Amuse-Bouche Archive

Spotlight: Hands & Mouth

I strike a match / to burn the
sage / bundle smoke circles /
in every room / of my silent
home…

Deception of Memory, 10 x 16 Mixed Media, 2018

Spotlight: The Curious Mind

I really like to poke people’s brains. From business, to family and friends, and even love
[especially love], the core foundation of all things boil down psychology, and the workings of
the brain. I think the human mind is a bizarre and peculiar place […]

À La Carte: Saudades

I miss the jungle’s morning breath. I shall never grasp

I used to bathe in lush vines, the Peace that shelters those

and soak that sing with one set of Words.

Spotlight: The Examination

Funny that you ask.
It feels like billions of nerve cells arranged in patterns to coordinate thought, emotion, behavior, movement, and sensation.
An egg frying in a frying pan.

Litdish: Hilary Rubin Teeman, Executive Editor

The bar is often whether I can put it down. I don’t mean put it down for an hour while I deal with something else, but, “Is this book in my head? Am I thinking about how it’s going to end? Do I want to go back to reading it to the exclusion of other things?” If the answer to these questions is “Yes!” it means the novel has hooked me, that I am feeling an authentic connection to it, that I can see myself working on it and championing it.

Untitled, 2018, Acrylic and Ink on Paper, 18” x 30”

Spotlight: Abstract Painting

I am compelled by a clumsy and imperfect nature of painting, especially with a relationship to a more perfect, cold language of drawing. The precise and angular nature of many of the forms I work with lend themselves to a technical vernacular […]

Á La Carte: Safe

He reached over my legs to turn the heater up, then slowly brought his hand back, hovering above my knees. The tattoos on his four knuckles shown towards my mother and me. The words spelled F E A R. I looked away quickly. My mother fingered the door handle.

Spotlight: The Circus

The last time I went to the circus
was also the first day
a boy fingered me behind
the stacks of old smelling innertubes
at the pool on the corner of Thirty-second.

À La Carte: Deportation Fears

follow me, like my shadow
under blinking streetlights
when I walk home at twilight
listening to “Immigration Man,” with my earbuds,
afraid for our people, their lives,

Litdish: Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, Poet; Amy Shimshon-Santo, Poet; and Mireya S. Vela, Author

Three successful Los Angeles-based writers have found a path toward community through shared passions and mutual respect. Poets Adrian Ernesto Cepeda and Amy Shimshon-Santo, along with nonfiction writer Mireya S. Vela, form a tightly bonded trio, challenging racial and cultural biases in their writing and beyond. […]

Spotlight: Chemo-Brain / Motel 6

Your eyes go suddenly vacant,
mouth slack,
expression anxious.
You search,
search for a word …

Writers Read: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

That we are in the hands of a master storyteller who writes with a poet’s precision about fractious themes is clear. With a seer’s intuition, [Vuong] guides us into uncomfortable terrains of migration and displacement, violence and love, trauma and loss, poverty and addiction, the body and identity, queerness and masculinity.

Tania Shvayuk, The Moonlight garden, 2018, Oil on Canvas, 54x40cm

Spotlight: Mom I’m Not a Transvestite, I Do Art

I’m very interested in the inner worlds of other people—that’s the main reason why impressionistic portraiture is the basis of my artwork. I deny the stereotypes of appearance and gender and paint boys with makeup and earrings […]

Spotlight: The Nopalera Speaks

[fiction] the grandma would cut nopales from her backyard nopalera. a tower of pencas. the long blade biting its way through the stem. but it was infected. white pimples growing on its shell. when i would pop them. they would release a wave of purple. staining the smooth penca with sin […]

Litdish: Ashaki Jackson, Poet

There is no lifestyle; there are rules that you set for yourself. Be reasonable with those expectations and know who is setting them. Keep reviewing those expectations, especially the ones you’ve set for yourself, to make sure they are realistic and not harmful […]

À La Carte: The Properties of Mercury

[creative nonfiction] Nothing ostentatious, nothing reminiscent of the young man who, after a weekend of clubbing, raved about the bodies of the men he met. “They had bodies of death,” he laughed, never realizing the irony of foreshadowing. No amount of make-up could cover the Kaposi’s, that’s what we called them then, on his nose. It bloomed with the deep purple and distinct outline of an O’Keefe flower […]

Spotlight: Aleph Friedman Killed

[fiction] The messenger arrives early in the morning. He hands Rachel an envelope. Inside the envelope is a letter printed on lengths of tape and pasted on a form. In the letter, there are three words. Aleph Friedman Killed.

À La Carte: To guide my son to sleep

I shut his blue eyes,
my hand still enough

to keep each iris closed.
I have learned both

to tie a curtain and silence […]

Spotlight: Golden Years

Because nursing homes were for gringos,
my grandfather spent his last years
on the couch, idle, silent, drooling
as he watched novelas, old episodes
of Cops, and—as hour after hour passed— […]

À La Carte: Waning Gibbous

1
Google: How early do girls masturbate?
in her eighth year / maybe earlier / low tides birthed: a lotus / splitting legs / to conch shell murmurs / she
swirls / her lotus / chews mattress / her lotus / bends pillow / her lotus / rubs its cheek / against raggedy
Anne / repetition sharpens / her lotus / petal / into blade / petal tears / knitted crotch / crotch spills / cotton
/ spills / from mute dolly / yet / no cotton / will enter girl / enter lotus / tampons are phallic / kabardaar

Spotlight: 85%

[fiction] On any given day, I spend about 85% of my energy trying to not look crazy. Which is why it’s really pissing me the fuck off that Emma is spending about 0% of her energy not listening to the really simple thing I asked her to do: stay on her half of the desk. […]

Kerrie Smith, Vapours 5, 2018, Acrylic/Aluminum panel, 16x12"

Spotlight: Patterns in Nature

My current endeavor is to capture our changing planet. Consequently, my artwork examines patterns in our environment—urban and industrial as well as natural. I’m interested in the changing intersection between place in city or nature. As an artist, I feel a responsibility to address these changes and the environmental impacts they have had […]

Ilaria Ortensi, Untitled.Windows, 2014, Inkjet Color Print, 44x72

Spotlight: Windows

I often work in series creating bodies of work that highlights certain interests such as architecture, space, and scale. I like to investigate the way in which spaces are constructed and how the environment shapes the times we inhabit—influencing our identities, senses, and emotions […]

À La Carte: dialogue and invitations & Cultivation

dialogue and invitations If y’all have babies I hope they have his hair. You have a lot of potential. You’re so well spoken. silence ignored I have a job this summer cleaning my house, if you’re interested. money tossed on the counter. no eye contact You’re going to be fly … what does that mean? […]

Spotlight: Pull Me Out of the Earth and Feed Me to My Madness (after The X-Files)

Look at our bones laid bare      on the metal      or in the grass. Slides spill like memories across the wall        and while he sees his favorite legend again     Scully has to hold her science in her chest. What even is real in 1999?     In 2018 when I turn off cable news call my grandmother     stuff […]

Autumn Hunt, Suddenly in Paradise, 2015, Oil on Panel, 7.25" x 9.75"

Spotlight: Oh the Places We Will Go

Our world is constantly being reloaded with data, images, opportunities, options for reinterpretation, and fleeting impressions. In a continuously evolving world, the paintings in this series of work act as a snapshot of this maelstrom of information overload and show a scene apparently caught in limbo between reality and a dream. By using the everyday […]

Litdish: Elham Hajesmaeili, Artist

Born in Iran in 1984, Elham Hajesmaeili received a BFA in handicrafts from the Shiraz University in 2006, an MA in art studies from the University of Art, Tehran, Iran in 2010, and an MFA in painting and drawing from the Pennsylvania State University, US in 2017. She has held multiple groups and solo exhibitions […]

À La Carte: Picnic at the Champ de Mars

[flash] We had arrived in France two days before, and it was already our third croque monsieur. We bought it at a little Carrefour store, where we also got two cans of Dr. Pepper. Look, Joanne had said, didn’t Melissa say Dr. Pepper was impossible to find in Europe. So we just had to get […]

Spotlight: Routines in Cell 43

[translated fiction] (Readable as a loop, beginning with any paragraph) The rod rings out in the emptiness to remind me of my exile. I inhale the damp air and the invasive scent of my own misery. It was a long time ago that I took my leave of the apathy inherent to incomprehension and fear. […]

Izosceles, Retro Discothekka, 2017, Digital Media, 40" x 30"

Spotlight: Pro-Anti

The Icon is an emerging American digital visual artist. With a love for cartoons and fun imagery, Izosceles discovered their adoration for artistic expression at a young age. Their works are colorful in nature; however, some have deeper tones underneath the playful, digestible surface. Growing up on cartoons as a child is what inspires their bold lines […]

Writers Read: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

When I was thinking back on how to write up this piece on Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, I kept struggling with the words to put down. How can I best write about a fictitious society that criminalized reproductive rights while we in the US are quite literally on the brink of a collapse of […]

À La Carte: There is no version of this story in which I come out the other side neurotypical

Last night I dreamt of institutions. A thousand days of mood stabilizers and shock therapy. A spoon rolls over my tongue but I do not gag on the bitterness, my throat is already full of what everyone else needs to be comfortable with me being alive. // My grandmother lives in Cuba. Mother rarely speaks […]

Spotlight: Vocal Frying the 2nd POV

[fiction] You is not you. It certainly isn’t me, although after the initial shock of being ‘you,’ you think ‘you’ is me. Anyhoo, you take me by the hand and we climb the stairs, taking each step as slowly as if each step was a crossing into another forbidden dimension. BTW, ‘me’ isn’t me but […]

À La Carte: Two Apples a Day, Keeps the Pounds Away

[creative nonfiction] When I was seventeen, my daily food consumption consisted of two apples per day, nothing more and nothing less. Every single calorie that I ate was tracked, measured, and promptly exterminated like a nasty virus through rigorous exercise. Every aspect of my life revolved around numbers: calories in, calories out, how many minutes […]

Spotlight: Weight & Call Me Animal

Weight First thing you learn is to swallow a fist/ that sets its aim/ on the white manager who calls you/ so articulate/ as if the notion is as rare as a nun in full habit/ or unicorns/ I learned to play house/ with dolls I’d rather bury/ and frilly girls I’d prefer to avoid/ […]

Litdish: Valeria Luiselli, Author

Valeria Luiselli earned her PhD in comparative literature from Columbia University and has received awards from the Los Angeles Times, the Azul Prize, and the National Book Foundation. Her books include Sidewalks, Faces in the Crowd, The Story of My Teeth, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, and now, Lost Children […]

Yael Sapir, lace on a leaf, 2018, found leaf and cotton threads

Spotlight: The Ornamented Leaf

My work is a connection between nature, textile, and culture. It combines my own worlds—the rich landscape that surrounds me on the mountains of West Galilee in Israel, my expertise in the textile industry and textiles, and my Hungarian descent. This nature-textile-culture composition isn’t a trivial one. It can even be confusing. And yet, it generates a sense […]

Litdish: Nancy Au, Author

Nancy Au‘s writing appears or is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, The Cincinnati Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Catapult, Lunch Ticket, and SmokeLong Quarterly, among others. She has an MFA from San Francisco State University where she taught creative writing. In the summers, she teaches creative writing (to biology majors!) at California State University Stanislaus. She is co-founder […]

Spotlight: Symphony of Panic

[fiction] You sit in a Goodwill engulfed in the sadness emitted by the abandoned objects, each with their own story you’re sure, and the dejected shoppers. Your chosen object is a $20 chair, cracked red leather outlined by shining buttons. You listen to a man, ratty t-shirt and balding blonde hair, sitting in a different […]

Á La Carte: The Spring of Rapeseed Flowers

[translated poetry] Thousands of Chinese Acres of Spring When the budding of a tree isn’t closely observed Rapeseed flowers     have unfolded the season by their full blossoms The golden dream of the earth     thus rolls out under the cloud flowers Is woven in the wind      and undulates to the farthest in March Rapeseed flowers have […]

Spotlight: Healing

[creative nonfiction] 1: Adab Being with family is the ultimate exercise in learning good adab. There is no simple translation for that Arabic word. Adab. A-da-ba. Turn it around, and you get ba-da-a: beginning. But you live in the West now. Your parents lifted you out of that loving, prickly embrace and introduced you to […]