By Patricia Jacaban Miranda


Modern Witches


          Here's what I'll put in their hands
and you may take the idea. I will
not charge you.
          Into the elder's, the egg tooth of a bird
which cracks the smooth, safe shell:
the cracking, an honesty
the honesty, a surety.
          Into the younger's, the leap of a fox,
landing just once, the pounce
breaking the spine—a mystery
which ought to be clean to you.
          We are modern witches,
gathering mementos, atom by atom,
the energy a four-folded space
swirling in our cauldrons.
          All is sleight of hand
—all glint and arc and cut—
that when compounded through time
may be just enough to hold us at bay.

An Episode of Chopped, Watched by Katie, Won by Roro


It was because you knew
how to cook a bull’s heart, so huge
it spilled over the chopping
block, pooled blood
on the stainless steel table
It quivered, as though remembering
how to beat. You cut away gristle
and membrane, blue
against the shiny rust
of organ. You sliced
the rest thin, heated the pan,
and when the oil sizzled,
sautéed onions that softened
and seasoned the strips of heart.
Soon the iron tang of blood
perfumed the air.
And the judges smiled,
like the gods of old, who inhaled
deep, lazing in the smell of char.

Next to me, Katie gags. On again,
off again a vegetarian, she will be on
again after tonight. She says to me,
Europa rode a bull. I don’t understand why.
I nod, but later, after I check on her,
exhausted and peaceful in sleep,
I know it’s because she doesn’t yet know
that to keep a heart tender,
we first sharpen the knife,
then gentle the heat.


The Taste of South


When we were five, we fit
in the chair with the arm-
rest doilies. We’d lay
the book of fairy tales
across our laps, taking turns
turning the page.
You did not read, then.
But I could. Sometimes
I changed the words
so that you’d fidget. I’d say,
The witch ate his finger.
Which one? you’d cry.
The one that points south, I’d say.
But what does that mean?
A south-pointing finger?

I’d reach for your hand
and you’d curl your fingers
under. It means the one
that tastes the best. The one,
I say, that makes the rest
of him the bitterest of all.

Patricia Jacaban Miranda's poems have been featured or are forthcoming in apt, Bop Dead City, DASH, Frontier Poetry, Heron Tree, Into the Void, Kitaab, Mount Hope, Rise Up Review, and several other literary journals. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two children.

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