Volume 1.09 7 May 2011
A Tasty Variation on Literature, Photography, Food and Music
Letter from the Editor
Slice It Up Dear Amigos,
Letter from the Editor
“Summer Heat” (Peggy McFarland)
“Caleb J. Ross’s Stranger Will: a Review” (Stephen Krauska)
Frozen Strawberry Margaritas: a Recipe (Joe Krauska)
About our Authors & Artists
I, admittedly, know very little about Mexican heritage. I know a few good guys back home from my days pouring concrete and every day the temps rise above 70, I miss them and the homemade lunches they would share. When Joe wanted to do a Margarita recipe for the ﬁfth I was all about it, but knew I would have to do some reading. The Fifth of May has actually become more of a “Chicano” holiday, that is, Mexican-American, than a Mexican one. In something akin to a Battle of Fort McHenry, The Fifth of May celebrates Mexico’s victory over the armies of Napoleon III in 1862. While the “Battala de Pueblo” was a victory for President Benito Juarez, the rest of the chips eventually went to France. The Fifth of May celebration came to be a symbol of Mexico’s authority over its own territory, so it is somewhat ironic that it has been Americanized into a day to sell Piñatas and Jose Cuervo. If I may borrow from the Christmas purist’s mantra, the true reason for the season is for the people of Mexico to remember the unity and triumph they shared in defending their home. We Americans should remember that as we sip frozen tequila cocktails and lime-spiked beers. Melting pot that America is, we all have our native homes and it is a great thing, not just to drink together, but to hang out together. Take some time this month and do something really Mexican. Screw Chipotle and Q-Doba and head down to the possibly unfamiliar side of town for some real food. Like a well written story, the food is hot, layered, spicy and well-chased by a cold beer. Like a poem, you feel it from the inside out. Mexican culture is one of the most fascinating and one of the most accessible, yet one of the most misunderstood. We wrap it up in fast food tortillas and political quips about who should get to live where, but there is much more to it. There is a people and a soul. Yes, all we have for you this month that is even remotely Mexican is a drink recipe, but hey, we kept this issue short. When you are done with us, go ﬁnd something Mexican to enjoy. Consider it a homework assignment; if you ﬁnd something that blows your mind, write us. We’d love to hear it. Best, Stephen Krauska Executive Editor, Cannoli Pie Magazine
Summer Heat Short Fiction by Peggy McFarland The sky lit up. Heat lightning. Hot enough. If it were her ex, she’d have said no. No fake headache, no pretend stomach virus; just an adamant no. Too new with Milo to turn him down. Fourteen years younger than her, a perfect, hard body and already he bored her. Maybe something was wrong with her. Vanessa reached behind and pushed against the bike-rack style headboard to move down an inch; she didn’t want him pounding her head against its pipes. The ceiling fan’s whir mocked her; humidity a suffocating weight. From between her legs, Milo lifted his head, smiled at her. She buried her ﬁngers in his thick black hair, yanked. Enough foreplay. His wet tongue licked a clammy line from the new rosebud tattoo above her curly swatch, over her belly button to between her gravity-ﬂattened breasts. She closed her eyes, willed herself not to gag. She murmured a syllable and kept her face still as she pumped his rhythm. Sweat pooled where his hard abs slapped her soft stomach. Inside her head, her mother chanted: please your man, please your man. Revolted, Vanessa shuddered. He mistook it for pleasure. Good, she thought, hurry up. She tightened her legs around the small of his back, arched and whimpered. He pumped harder, his breath a furnace blast of garlic and wintergreen. He collapsed next to her, ran one hand through his hair, exhaled. His weight off her allowed some relief from the heat. An appreciative sigh escaped. He turned his head, smiled, eyebrows raised. She forced another satisﬁed sigh, bit her lip, hoping to avoid the was-it-good-for-you game. She touched the dagger and thorn 3
tattoo on his bicep; he ﬂexed and laughed. “The sky lit up,” she said. “I thought the phrase was ‘the earth moved.’” He kissed her shoulder and nibbled. Not again, no way, she thought. She stretched to dislodge him. He leaned over her body for the cigarettes and lighter on her nightstand, wriggled his body to a sitting position and shook out two cigarettes. With both stuck between his lips, he lit them simultaneously. Annoyed, (she hated the way he wet her ﬁlter) she clenched her jaw, curled her toes. The ﬁrst time she fucked him, it seemed a sweet gesture, him lighting the post-coital smoke. Now, it was “their thing.” The corners of her mouth twitched a placating smile. “No, really, I saw a huge ﬂash. In the sky. Well, not a bolt, per se. It just lit up.” He crossed his arms behind his head, his wet, black, armpit-clumps exposed. His smoke ring hovered, suspended between humidity and the ceiling fan’s push. Their sex-stink fused with acrid exhalations. She parted her lips; shallow breaths. “Heat lightning. Hot ‘nough for it,” he said. She smashed her cigarette into the overﬂowing ashtray, swallowed a yawn. She turned her back to Milo. He traced her spine; his tuneless hum lulled. Eyelids closed, she forced regular breaths, suppressed her suffocation-panic. Maybe the night air would feel less stagnant. His t-shirt smelled like his body spray—masculine, heady. She yanked its cottony softness over her head. Better than her fake-silk kimono wrap. Cool at ﬁrst, but the synthetic would cling, moist and sticky; every hair follicle sensitive. A stupid lingerie purchase after the divorce intended to make her feel desirable; a talisman for possibilities, passion; a new lover. It worked. Maybe if she gave it away, Milo would leave. For now, though, she didn’t know how to be alone. She stepped onto her small wooden deck and leaned over the railing. Woods edged her bare yard. The horizon glowed a sickly yellow. A hot breeze blew hair strands across her face, dried her perspiration; yet that air felt more stiﬂing than the bedroom. Her insides strummed to a
faint vibration. Milo tied the drawstring on his sleep pants and leaned beside her at the railing. “Look. Over there.” She pointed to the light. The vibration ampliﬁed to a hum. “Hear that?” Milo wrapped his arms around her. She pressed her back against his chest, wrapped her arms over his. His broad shoulder felt safe. For the ﬁrst time since dusk, she appreciated his touch more than she cursed the humidity. A dog shot past them, tail between its hind legs, whimpering. It disappeared into the woods. The hum swelled to a roar. The black hairs on Milo’s arms stood up, each one an exclamation point. The roar intensiﬁed to a jaw-clenching crescendo. A numinous switch ﬂipped to the off position; silence an ominous texture. The glow shrunk to a line at the horizon before winking out. The hot breeze strengthened, accompanied by an eerie whistle. A ﬁgure emerged from the line. She heard her ex’s voice growl Vanessa inside the whistle. Vanessa thought it looked human, but something was off. A woman dressed in a bright pink skirt and jacket, matching pillbox hat, dark hair ﬂipped, dark-rimmed glasses, gloved hands; a rigid, life-sized, perfect Jackie Onassis doll. She not so much walked toward them as ﬂoated, despite a stiff-legged march. She closed the distance in four Vanessa-breaths. Vanessa shrank against Milo’s chest, pressing herself as if she could hide inside his abs and pecs, ﬁnd safety inside his body. Under the whistling wind, her mother’s vituperative voice hissed, Do you give your boy-toy milk and cookies after screwing him? The woman’s face changed. The hat melted into the hair to form a smooth pate. Glasses melted into bulbous eyes, mouth elongated into screampose, outﬁt altered into globular red viscera, spongy and ﬂuid. Vanessa blinked. It changed back into the woman. Vanessa screamed. Milo released her. “Milo!” He ignored her, opened the slider and disappeared inside the bedroom. She stood alone with the thing. Her mouth opened, but her scream hid
behind her uvula. Body trembling, brains screaming RUN!, her bare feet remained glued to the deck, legs paralyzed. The ﬁgure glided onto the deck. Vanessa squeaked. The head converted into a swirling mass, a globe’s spin of colors; a slit mouth steady in the blur. Words from her ex, from her mother, from her life’s persecutors spoke a berating chorus; lilting, gleeful, proclaiming faults and mistakes until in unison they barked “MILO!” “STOP! WHO ARE YOU?” Vanessa screamed. Hands ﬁsted, her acrylic tips gouged her palms. The disjointed body and colored sphere stilled, as if contemplating the question. “We… we… WE….” With each “we” colors pulsed. “WE ARE…,” it chorused. The wind raged. Vanessa leaned into it, compelled, anxious, dreading the answer. Colors exploded, each hue dispersed by the wind. The answer burst into a fading reverberation. “…you.” Vanessa shot upright, legs trapped by sweat-plastered sheet. Milo snored, his tight buttocks pressed against her thigh. She looked toward the sliding door. Dark. No ﬁgures. No colors. Only cricket voices disrupted the night. Milo mumbled in his sleep, ﬂung his arm across her lap. She extricated herself from Milo’s crush, grabbed her cigarettes, scavenged for his discarded t-shirt and then ﬂed the bedroom. A moth attacked the kitchen light ﬁxture, retreated, attacked again. Futile attraction, Vanessa thought, and retrieved a jelly glass from the strainer. She sat at her scratched Formica table, downed two ﬁngers of white-labeled vodka and lit a cigarette. What the hell? Not a nightmare, but disturbing. Vanessa shook, an effort to expel dream residue. Lazy
Summer Heat Cont’d Short Fiction by Peggy McFarland smoke clouded above her head, not even a faint breeze relieved the oppressive heat. Tap-tap-tap. Papery wings attacked the ﬁxture. Vanessa’s bare thighs stuck to the vinyl chair. She lit a second cigarette with the butt of the ﬁrst. Stuck, stuck, stuck, her mind looped. Milo entered the kitchen and rubbed his eyes, a child’s gesture. Tufted spikes of hair reinforced the image. “What’s up?” he asked, mouth widening into a noisy yawn. “Bad dream, just getting rid of it.” He helped himself to her cigarettes as he straddled a chair. At almost ten dollars a pack, she resented his presumption. Maybe it was the vestiges of the dream, maybe the heat, maybe because her thigh-skin hurt—she didn’t hold her features still. A sigh escaped, an exasperated grunt. “What?” Milo asked, brows wrinkled. He exhaled upward, his smoke merging with hers, shrouding the kamikaze moth. He leaned into the chair back, draping it, one arm dangling, his legs stretched and crossed at his ankles. His boxers peeked open, his limp but substantial cock revealed. “Nothing.” She lit a third cigarette, looked at his unruly hair, his soft brown eyes, his bulging arms, his tattooed chest. A warrior stood before a dragon, sword drawn, ﬂames interwoven with jeweled vines. A prone female lay on her side under the warrior’s feet, a diaphanous sheet draped over her voluptuous form, staring at Vanessa from Milo’s chest. Transﬁxed, Vanessa lost herself in the artwork. Her ex hated tattoos; her mother sermonized Tattoos insult Our Maker. 5
Vanessa was ambivalent until Milo proved his attraction. He was attracted to her; a used woman. Stretch marks not quite camouﬂaged by a spraytan; laugh lines framing eyes and mouth, platinum hair obscuring gray, the ﬁrst signs of her softening chin merging with her neck. “What?” he demanded. She smiled, a tired smile. She stubbed her cigarette. “Nothing, just leftover dream.” Yawning, she rose, grimacing at the vinyl-drag. She stopped at the doorway, absently scratching her tattoo. He stubbed his cigarette, walked past her, snatched her t-shirt’s hem and tugged. She let him lead her, back to bed.
Caleb J. Ross’s Stranger Will Book Review by Stephen Krauska In his ﬁrst full length novel, Kansas City native Caleb J. Ross waxes prosaic the age old case of jitters that comes with impending fatherhood. William Lowson, Ross’s protagonist, works cleaning up, not the dead, but the stains they have left behind. Will wonders throughout the book about the impressions people make on each other, on the walls, ceilings and ﬂoorboards of their demise, and most importantly their children. Ross is not afraid to take the unruly facts of reality and rub them in your face using whichever of the senses he can get his hands on. Speaking of his ﬁancé’s home-style cooking, his nasty line of work and the inescapable ills of a terminal existence Will soliloquys, “onion and paprika cannot mask the taste of chemicals used to absolve blood and skin from highways and dashboards,” and that’s just the ﬁrst page. Stranger Will begins as something of a dark comedy. A reluctant father, trying to convince his ﬁancé to not carry the baby to term, or at least give it up after the fact, crudely makes jokes comparing the child to a tapeworm he once had, curiously named Paul. Will’s chiding of Julie at ﬁrst evokes chuckles and sighs for both their perversion and truisms but, counter to one’s expectations of a leading ﬁgure in a novel, the jokes do not hide a nervous-yet-well-meaningheart, rather something more pessimistic and Nietzsche-esque. As the novel continues, the plot gets increasingly dark and starkly less comedy and Ross’s writing all the more pointed. It reads like a nightmare you wake up from in the middle of the night and spend the next day wondering how much of it was real. The twists are shocking and terrifying, but somehow founded in reason and not entirely unbelievable. Importantly, the entire time Ross is grossing his readers out with scenes like a game of catch played with a dead raccoon, and very authoritative (note, not “know-it-all”) descriptions of body
remnants and the chemicals needed to clean them, he is also writing really well. Conversations are small but effective with regionally ﬂavored bits of speech such as “I remember a ﬁreworks show a couple years ago around there. Got a niece that lives in the area. If it’s the right area, I mean,” which might have been glossed by a lesser writer. In a scene at the bedside of an ill loved one, Ross deftly reveals Will’s inner-workings writing, “he can’t help but take notice of the way he breathes so easily, of his lungs pumping air unaided into a body strong enough to stand on its own,” in a pointedly remorseful juxtaposition that helps his character come out as more than just a grossly sarcastic father-to-be but several tons more human. As proven by his short stories in Charactered Pieces (Outside Writers 2009) Ross has a forte for metaphor, and as Stranger Will meanders through the increasingly dark life of Will a portrait of the human life cycle emerges. From birth, to education, the desire and inevitable failure to ﬁt in, the building and destroying of relationships, past times, hobbies and paradigms; a few strange weeks in the life of Ross’s Will tell the tale of getting through those times in our lives where we seem the strangest, not to others, but to ourselves. Charles Bukowski dedicated the thinly ﬁctionalized account of his young life, Ham on Rye, with the words “for all the fathers” as the simultaneous threat, fear, blame and praise a delinquent child squares on his father. Such a dedication would be ﬁtting for Caleb J. Ross’s Stranger Will.
Frozen Strawberry Margaritas A recipe by Joe Krauska Summer for me is split into two parts: May through June, and September. Kansas gets far too hot in the middle of summer to thoroughly enjoy it. That is why I take advantage of the milder months before and after to eat great food, and in this case, drink great drinks. To be fair, I came up with this and made it on an unseasonably cool day at the beginning of April, but is there ever a bad time for a margarita? Strawberries and lime have been a common duo for me. I have regularly just eaten plain berries mixed with fresh lime juice and a teeny bit of salt. Though I call this a margarita, I’m sure there are ofﬁcial rules for what one would consist of. I
don’t know those rules, but I don’t think anyone could say no to fresh berries and lime. This recipe is easily changed to suit your liking. If you love sour ﬂavors, use more lime juice and less sugar. Raspberries on sale make a delightful ruby-colored drink. The seeds can be a bit overwhelming, though; I would strain them before blending with the ice. If you have kids around you can leave out the alcohol and some of the ice, or replace the alcohol with a suitable variety of your favorite soda. The only key bit of advice I can give you is that all ice is different. Shape and density greatly affect the texture of the ﬁnal drink, so you may need more or less depending. It is usually easy to add more, if you’ve got too much, a splash of water, club soda or lemon lime soda will help smooth it out. You should deﬁnitely not forget to buy some or make more before you have to make it, otherwise you will end up running to the store when you’re supposed to be blending, like an unnamed cook you may have read about...
Frozen Strawberry Margarita Serves 3-4 ½ cup fresh lime juice 1 cup strawberries (about 8 oz) ½ cup sugar (adjust to taste, my wife liked a little less) ¼ cup good tequila (adjust to taste, you may need more ice if you add more tequila) ¼ cup berry liqueur, strawberry or raspberry (can be replaced with tequila if you prefer) Pinch of salt 3 cups ice Blend together everything except the ice just until the larger chunks of berries are gone. Add the ice and blend until smooth. Serve in fancy glasses and enjoy the warm summer days.
Photos by Joe Krauska
Whodunit About our Authors & Artists
Peggy McFarland used to be Peg Jet when she cohosted a morning radio show, but eventually fell out of radio and back into restaurants. Needless to say, she has met many interesting people, and often writes about them so that others may know them too. You may meet them in stories at Shroud Magazine, Silverthought Online, Golden Visions Magazine, Long Story Short and more. If you ever ﬁnd yourself in Chelmsford, Massachusetts stop into Moonstones. Say you’ve read a story by Peggy and she’ll treat you to a tapas. Or a cannoli, if that’s our dessert special. It could happen.
oaths by The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and is a fan of Scotch. © 2011 All content is copyright Cannoli Pie Magazine or the respective owners. Cannoli Pie retains ﬁrst electronic serial rights to all work.
Joe Krauska is a family man and engineer. He cares for a lovely wife and daughter who look a lot alike. Joe is a devotee of wholesome cooking. He abhors both artiﬁcial ingredients and those he did not buy with a coupon. Claire Suellentrop is one of Cannoli Pie’s Co-Editors and works as Assistant Promotions Manager of 89.5fm WSOU. She spends most of her time listening to music very loudly, reviewing said loud music and critiquing people’s grammar. We would be lost without her. Stephen Krauska is Cannoli Pie’s other Co-Editor. He is a Kansas expatriate living in New York. He pontiﬁcates at http://unronic.blogpsot.com. He is Assistant Editor of The College of Staten Island’s Caesura, swears
7 May 2011, Volume 1.09 http://cannolipie.com