Year Two, A very random day in October
A Murder of Crows
“The pied au gratin is magnificent,” the waiter caws.
“What sort of foot?” the husband squawks.
“Free-range, organic,” the waiter caws.
He wears a pigeon’s heart on his starched uniform.
The wife wonders if the stiff material chafes.
Her own corset is digging into her ribs.
“I’ll take the pied au gratin, and my wife
will have the kidney fricassee.”
Her husband knows that she loathes organ meat.
She wants to squawk but presses her beak together,
silently reciting her calming mantra, sky sky sky.
Azure with wispy clouds she sees herself
taking flight gliding on an updraft far
far away from the clatter in the dining room.
The waiter wheels in a steel table with
a naked man trussed on top, a gag in his mouth.
“Left or right foot?” the waiter caws.
Picture a horrific tableau:
an insomniac mother
propped on sweaty pillows
nurses identically monstrous infants.
An alien latched to each human breast
their armored skulls gleam
while clacking mandibles
drain her mammaries.
Sunrise streams through the window
gilding the detritus of her former life
the empty space on the bed beside her
where her husband used to snore.
Muddy footprints on the bedroom carpet
tracked in after she dug the grave
marital vows and bones buried
he tried to kill her babies.
Love knows no boundaries
her belly swelled after a lunar eclipse
she wonders if her nursing aliens
will learn how to speak.
RECIPE: Pasta with Shitake Mushrooms, Carrots, and Black Garlic
Ingredients for one serving:
1 serving brown rice pasta
1 large carrot
5 medium-sized shitake mushrooms
1 and a half tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of black (fermented) garlic (buy at your local store or from blackgarlic.com)
1 tablespoon of shelled hemp seeds (optional)
Wash mushrooms and carrot.
Slice mushrooms into thick wedges and carrot into thin slices.
Chop black garlic into small pieces.
Prepare pasta according to directions on the package.
While pasta is cooking, place olive oil and mushrooms in a pan and sauté for four minutes at medium heat.
Add carrots to mushrooms, stir, and sauté for three more minutes.
Add black garlic, stir. Remove from heat.
When pasta is finished cooking and drained, stir the cooked mushrooms, carrots, and garlic into the pasta. If you would like extra protein, sprinkle hemp seeds on top. Serve.
Ice Queen Interviews Alicia Hilton
Ice Queen: What made you submit to this Trick-or-treat issue?
Alicia: I love to write dark poetry with eerie imagery, so the Trick-or-treat issue was an ideal home for my poems.
Ice Queen: Tell me about "A Murder of Crows" and "Mama". What made you want to showcase that?
Alicia: I showcased “A Murder of Crows” and “Mama” because I wanted readers to consider what it means to be a monster. Nurturing a non-human creature with food can be an act of love, but what would you do if the monster tried to devour you?
Ice Queen: Tell me about the recipe you chose. What made you want to showcase that?
Alicia: Pasta with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and black garlic is delicious and nutritious. And the black garlic repels vampires—the perfect meal to eat on Halloween.
Ice Queen: Favorite family/personal recipe?
Alicia: I enjoy flavorful dishes. One of my favorite recipes is chicken curry with coconut milk, fresh basil, and spices.
Ice Queen: What is your relationship to food in your writing?
Alicia: Many of my poems and stories feature food because food choices tell you a lot about a character—their cravings and quirks.
Ice Queen: What do you love about food in writing?
Alicia: Including food in poetry and stories reveals insights into character and also is part of world-building. It helps to anchor the tale in space and time.
Ice Queen: Do you bake or cook a lot, and how/when did you get into it?
Alicia: I cook nearly every day. I like to experiment with new recipes. I made my first cake when I was three. I made up the recipe and fixed the batter myself (my mother put the cake pan in the oven). The cake turned out a bit lumpy but was tasty.
Ice Queen: What are some of your favorite literary magazines?
Alicia: I read a lot—fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Some of my favorite magazines are Clarkesworld, Conjunctions, McSweeney’s, Lightspeed, Nightmare, The Paris Review, The Dark, Threepenny Review, and Vastarien.
Alicia Hilton is an author, editor, arbitrator, professor, and former FBI Special Agent. She believes in angels and demons, magic, and monsters. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Breakwater Review, Creepy Podcast, Dreams & Nightmares, Eastern Iowa Review, Litro, Modern Haiku, Mslexia, Neon, NonBinary Review, Not One of Us, Vastarien, World Haiku Review, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 4, 5 & 6, and elsewhere. Her website is https://aliciahilton.com. Follow her on Twitter @aliciahilton01 and Bluesky aliciahilton.bsky.social.