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Packing the Kitchen Utensils

By Steve Bellin-Oka

How many years since we used
the potato masher, the apple peeler,
its stainless-steel blade and crank
tucked in the back of the bottom
kitchen drawer among the balled
clot of discarded rubber bands?
And the egg slicer, never touched,
its grille and clean wires taut
as the silver foil outlines
of the invitations we mailed out
years ago? We bought these
utensils ourselves: hardly anyone
came to a gay wedding back then.
Which of you is the bride? someone
scrawled beneath the box checked
“decline.” At least they answered,
you said. Husband, I lift two nesting
spoons from the cutlery drawer,
wrap them in a grocery circular.
Though their silver oval faces
are tarnished with wear, on the handles
you can still make out the brand,
the words Lifetime Guarantee.




Listen as Steve Bellin-Oka reads Packing the Kitchen Utensils.

Added: Friday, January 19, 2024  /  Used with permission.
Steve Bellin-Oka
Photo by Jessica Harvey.

Steve Bellin-Oka’s first book of poems, Instructions for Seeing a Ghost (2020) won the Vassar Miller Prize from the University of North Texas Press. He is also the author of four chapbooks, including Tell Me Exactly What You Saw and What You Think It Means (2021), winner of SCE Press’ LGBQT+ Poetry Prize. His work has earned fellowships from the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and the National Parks Arts Foundation. His second book of poems, Shadow Generator, is forthcoming in 2025. He teaches English at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pennyslvania.

Image Description: Steve Bellin-Oka, who is mostly bald with brown and gray hair and a brown and gray goatee, faces forward. He is wearing glasses and a brown jacket over a Psychedelic Furs t-shirt. In the background is a converted industrial warehouse in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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