Mythical Cities of Southwestern Minnesota

“Mythical Cities of Southwestern Minnesota” is a poem by Megan Kurashige. I found its title irresistably evocative, so I have reused it here. Please forgive me, Megan.

Southwestern Minnesota contains several lost cities
but for our purposes here we’ll focus on one
lost since 1871
when a Lakota grandmother
ironically named Letty Swenson
became fed up with its streets
(to say nothing of its citizens)
and shut her eyes to it forevermore.

In an instant its prosperous Belgians,
lapsed Hutterites, sodden Germans,
bewildered Swedes and lone Korean
vanished from the prairie
and became suddenly and helplessly self-sufficient
in what amounted to a soap bubble in time.

Elsa Schultz
buxom and plain
had planned to steal a horse
and ride it clear to Sioux Falls
in search of better prospects
but had to settle for Sven Lindberg.

Jon Glazer
lost two-thirds of his income
unable to sell saddles
(and and feed, and tack, and medicine)
to his customers seven miles away
in Ghent.

Kim Cheol
(whom we won’t neglect)
had planned to travel to Marshall
to attend the Swedenborgian church
instead made peace with his god
among the Methodists.

If you visited it today
(I would not know how, but perhaps you do)
you would find two thousand souls more or less
nice folks, harmlessly inbred
who would be pleased to meet you
invite you to supper, pass you a hymnal
but lacking the imagination
to fathom why Letty was so pissed.

Image CC-BY-SA by Raphael Quinet

The First Child Born in Outer Space

The first child born in outer space
was an accident
the result of an impulse–a joke, almost–
between two people who don’t even like each other.

Sex was slippery
and awkward
like climbing a tree
or jumping off a roof.

Continuous free-fall
has advantages and disadvantages.
It’s a curse in the first trimester
and a blessing in the third.

Childbirth in space
is exactly the hell you’d imagine.
Gravity is no help,
and the father is a bully.

Our baby floats there
in a cloud of afterbirth
eyes open wide
too startled to cry.

Vigeland fetus CC-BY-NC-SA by rwhgould

Ingenstans

Per pushed the scrap of paper onto the floor and stared at the remains of his chili.

“You dropped this,” the waitress said, handing the paper back.

“It’s not mine,” he said.

She shrugged and carried it off with her armload of dirty dishes.

He mashed the last cracker crumb with his spoon.

“Is this yours?” the busboy said, holding the paper out.

“Not mine,” Per said.

The busboy ignored him and left it on the edge of the table.

Per took out his lighter, lit the corner of the paper, held it for a second while it caught flame, and dropped it into the chili.

“Hey,” the waitress said.

“Sorry,” Per said. He rose and left a five-dollar bill under his water glass.

The air outside was sharp. He zipped his jacket.

The door opened behind him. “Is this yours?” the manager asked, and handed him a scrap of paper.

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Pasta Fazool

2c mixed beans and lentils (My grocery carries a nice mix for cheap.)
12 oz Italian sausage links (Make sure you like them; the flavor is going to dominate.)
1 red onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 big carrots, chopped
14 oz can tomato sauce
two quarts water or stock
2 bunches kale, sliced the short way into fine ribbons
1c strozzapreti, penne, ziti, etc.

Soak beans overnight (or boil briefly and soak for an hour).
Drain and rinse beans.

Remove skins from sausage links.
Cut links into bite-sized rounds.
Brown sausage in oil, in soup pot.
Remove sausage from pot and set aside.

Saute onions, celery and carrots in sausage fat until softened and slightly caramelized.
Add tomato sauce.
Add water.
Add beans.
Stir.

Bring to boil.
Reduce to simmer.
Simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. Add water if necessary.

Return browned sausage to pot.
Add kale.
Simmer for thirty minutes.

Add pasta.

Simmer for fifteen minutes, or until everything is done to your liking.

Season with salt (I use “Better than Bouillon” brand chicken base instead of plain salt, for richness) and pepper.

Boy Meets Girl at a Cockfight

I asked Andrea Carlson to draw a mini with me for Twin Cities Zinefest this year. She said, “Sure, as long as it includes sexy ladies and scary monsters.”

Pot Roast

3-4 pound chuck roast
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
handful ginger, finely chopped
handful garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1/4 tsp ground chili pepper
peanut oil
water
fish sauce
soy sauce
msg

rice noodles, prepared according to package directions

Suggested accompaniments:
bean sprouts
chopped shallots
sliced green chilis
basil leaves
cilantro leaves
mint leaves
lime quarters
hoisin sauce
chili sauce

Brown roast in oil and set aside.
Sauté onions and ginger until onions are soft.
Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Add sugar and spices and sauté briefly.
Add a cup of water to pot and bring to boil. Stir and scrape any cooked-on bits off the bottom of the pot.
Return roast to pot and reduce heat to very slow simmer. Cover tightly.
Cook until roast is falling apart, around 3 1/2 hours. Add water as necessary.
Add fish sauce, soy sauce and msg, to taste.

Cut the roast into bite-size chunks and serve with the pan sauce over noodles, with accompaniments as you like.

Image CC-BY by benketaro