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Russian Dinner in 11 Courses
Alex Simand

Photo by  Todd Diemer  on  Unsplash

Photo by Todd Diemer on Unsplash

Everything pickled:
mushrooms, beets, carrots, cabbage,
uncle’s ashen face.

Meat piled atop rice
fragrant as red maple leaves
smattered with sour fruit.

A dirty joke floats
from the end of the table,
a cousin’s guffaw.

Goblets, shot glasses
stand sentry on crisp white cloth
awaiting spilled wine.

Conspiracies sprout,
form creases in pursed lips,
sit beside father.

Five types of salad
slathered thick with mayonnaise
or hiding a fish.

Plastic wrap, peeled off,
congregates like heroine
on granite counters.

Sergei beats the drum,
pours out whiskey, slow, steady,
incessant but fair.

Aunties pinch cheeks red,
wipe gristle from mustaches,
their thumbs moist with spit.

Liver in the sink,
that fetid burgundy corpse,
waiting to be fried.

Small photos produced
from wallets, compared like notes
of grandkids and dogs.

Alex Simand lives and works in San Francisco. He holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. He writes fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. His work has appeared in Hippocampus, North American Review, Red Fez, Mudseason Review, Five2One Magazine, Angel City Review, Drunk Monkeys, and others. Alex is the former Blog Editor for Lunch Ticket and past Editor of Creative Nonfiction and Diana Woods Memorial Prize. His short story, Election Cycle, was a winner of the 2017 Best Short Fiction award. Find him online at or on Twitter at @AlexSimand.