Varsha 2019 Issue, Poems - Christopher Stolle



By Christopher Stolle

Centaurea Cyanus


I grew up in a Catholic home.
We adhered to Pope Paul VI’s edict
to abstain from meat on Fridays.
This usually meant salmon patties
or any number of fish stick varieties.


I preferred a more peasant-like dish: tuna casserole.
This wasn’t Tuna Helper.
This was earthy food cooked in ceramic earthenware.
It was simple, quick, and delicious.


You made it in a Corelle CorningWare casserole dish.
That’s an odd name for it
because it’s square, not round.
On the sides without handles
is the classic Cornflower pattern:
three blue flowering shoots
forming their own ecclesiastical trinity.


Start by reading the directions
on your 7-ounce box of Creamette elbow macaroni
for proper and accurate cooking instructions.


While the pasta cooks,
open a can of young sweet peas—
they’re softer and a dull green—
and drain any liquid.
Pour the peas into the bottom of the dish
or pan
or whatever it feels like to you.
They can remain in a pea mountain
or you can spread them out.


Open a 12-ounce can of Starkist tuna.
I prefer the “in water” rather than the “in vegetable oil.”
Your taste preference might deviate.
Drain any liquid.
Use a fork to add the tuna onto Pea Mountain or Pea Valley.
It can remain as a lump,
but it’s better to break up larger chunks.


Drain the liquid from the elbow macaroni.
Drizzle the pasta over the peas and tuna.

Open a 10.5-ounce can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.
Pour this atop the peas, tuna, and pasta.

Mix everything gently with a spoon.
Use the back of the spoon to smooth down the mixture.


Microwave on high for 7 minutes.
Remove the dish
or pan
or whatever you’ve decided to call it
from the microwave.


Serve. Enjoy. Have seconds.

Top with crumbled potato chips.
That’s how Dad liked it.



Strand, Leicester, Piccadilly

By Christopher Stolle


I walked into a lyric from a Jethro Tull song.
I don’t think anyone around me heard a sound.
I felt transported to the 1970s’ London underground.
I felt the chills run silently but strong.


Today’s sidewalk musicians draw their own throng.
Water fountains reflect what’s now around.
Everyone has somewhere they’re hurriedly bound.
Queues to each other’s heart run sharp but long.


History bends right beneath our feet,
But we’re trying to leave our own mark
For someone to admire long after our time.
Have I started walking down the wrong street?
Will they erect a statue of me in an unused park?
Who will mind if not all my poems rhyme?






Christopher Stolle’s writing has appeared most recently in “Tipton Poetry Journal,” “Flying Island,” “Edify Fiction,” “Contour,” “The New Southern Fugitives,” “The Gambler,” “Gravel,” “The Light Ekphrastic,” “Sheepshead Review,” and “Plath Poetry Project.” He works as an acquisitions and development editor for Penguin Random House. He lives in Richmond, Indiana.


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