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Trick or Treat with Allyn Bernkopf

Year One, A very random day in October

Running Through

I keep a garden because my mother had one.

It took up the entire east of her mountain lot.


were my idea & I planted them under my windows.

Strawberry, in German, is erdbeere. As in terrestrial

berry. As in Terre’s trials.

Terre, in French, means

Earth. I wanted to be terrestrial with my patch—day

dreamt me laying between their vines & suckers.

Tender flowers would rest on my eyelids &

I’d imagined being swallowed whole, suckling my blood,

purifying me, wringing

me out, absorbed. I could never

actually lay in the patch. Because of the widows. Their

red hourglass glittered

better than mine. That’s not

Quite true. I was afraid—

Sometimes I’ll go a week

without showering. Something about the human body

musk both enlights & disgusts. When I can smell

my vagina, I imagine I am ready.

My mother used to

have peach & cherry trees. Or maybe it was apricot

and cherry. They were north and east

of her garden.

Did you know // in order for

a cherry or peach or apricot to reproduce, they must have

a mate nearby?

For some reason, cherries are my least

favorite fruit. Perhaps it’s because, out of the three,

they are the only ones who actually need a mate.

Cherry, in German, is kirsche, as in,

I kiss myself.


Today, I Am In My Mother’s Garden

Today, I am in my mother’s garden.

It’s 1996 or 8 and I am weeding

bean stalks. I like how their tendrils

curl around my pinky, around my

wrist. Truly, I haven’t been pulling up

the Morning Glory as Mom instructed

because I can’t wrap my head around

those white-cream buckets being weeds.

Mom tells me they strangle the plants.

Steal the water away from the squash,

the corn, cucumbers—a valley of vined

thieves. I eventually pull at the flowers,

grasp at their suckers and yank up. Mom

is just north in the pumpkin patch—straw

hat tinged brown from sweat. She looks up

& I raise the vine of buckets so she sees.


Mystery Cupcakes (Tomato Soup Cupcakes)


  • 2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon of grated or ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 10 & 3/4-ounce can of condensed cream of tomato soup

  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

  • 1 cup of raisins (optional)

  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter

  • 1 cup of sugar


  1. Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70 degrees F.

  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

  3. Either grease cupcake pan or insert cupcake liners (or use silicon cupcake liners/pan!).

  4. Whisk thoroughly together the following: 2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of grated or ground nugmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

  5. In another (large) bowl, beat at high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes) the following: 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, 1 cup of sugar.

  6. On low speed, beat the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with 2 parts of 1 10 & 3/4-ounce can of condensed cream of tomato soup.

  7. After this, should you choose, you can fold in 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans and 1 cup of raisins.

  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing each top.

  9. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 45 minutes).

  10. Let the cake cool in the pan on a cooling rack.

This cupcake goes very well with a boiled white icing, cream cheese frosting, or you can just dust them with confectioners sugar!


Ice Queen Interviews Allyn Bernkopf

Ice Queen: What made you submit to this Trick of Treat issue?

Allyn: I've been considering submitting to Ice Queen Magazine for a few months now. I love how original the journal is (huge RPG fan, tbh), how well the journal showcases who they print, and the creative writing that has been published is outstanding and by such talented writers. I decided to submit to this issue because I thought I might have pieces that teetered on being tricksy or treat-y (or just snack-y), so here we are!

Ice Queen: Tell me about "Running Through" and "Today, I Am In My Mother’s Garden."

Allyn: The two poems that were accepted both take place at my mother's home alongside the Wasatch Range in Utah. I have been interrogating the complexities of fruits, vegetables, gardening, the feminine body, what it means to be a woman, and a body's relation to what comes from Mother Earth. These two poems are definitely in this area of my work.

Ice Queen: Favorite family/personal recipe?

Allyn: My family is from Austria and Northern Italy, so my favorites are a homemade pasta, homemade pizza, or, in Austrian tradition, a really delicious schnitzel with a cucumber salad side. All this being said, the recipe I'll share for this issue will be something I whipped up for Halloween a few years ago. I found this recipe in a family favorite cookbook, The Joy of Cooking (pg 721).

Ice Queen: What is your relationship to food in your writing?

Allyn: My relationship to food in these poems is in the relation between growing your own fruit or vegetables and succumbing to a feminine energy of this act as a feminine body. Gardening is something I learned from my mother; how to plant your foods, weed your garden, nourish the plants, maintain their wellness, and watch them grow. I feel like it's very much tied to motherhood for me, of which I have no children (other than my fur babies), but hope to have human babies one day.

Ice Queen: What do you love about food in writing?

Allyn: As I continue to experiment with food in my writing, I'm finding that I love food in writing for the same reason I love food when I travel. When I travel, I seek out food vendors and restaurants that are frequented by the locals of the area I'm in. My experience has been succulent. I'm finding that food in writing has a similar effect on me but on a more micro scale. By attending to very specific details in my own writing surrounding the effort of growing food, I find more love in the act of gardening, how amazing the growth of fruits and vegetables is, how interesting (and sometimes terrifying) the insects and arachnids who haunt the plants are, and I am very much intrigued by the metaphors encompassed within fruits, vegetables, and of the harvest. I'm still learning about this love, of course, but this is where it has initially begun.

Ice Queen: Do you bake or cook a lot, and how/when did you get into it?

Allyn: I do bake and cook a lot! Being from a big Italian and Austrian family, food has always been a very big part of my family and the way in which I grew up.

It wasn't until I was 23, though, that I really started to get into cooking and I was 25 when I got into baking. I got into cooking because my mother gave me Betty Crocker's cookbook -the same one she had when I was growing up, so I have sentimental feelings toward the book - and this kickstarted my adventures on the stove. To this day, I have only experienced one oven fire (I did successfully put it out).

Re: Baking, when I was 25, I bought my first house which gave me the space I really needed for baking. I remember spending a few months buying loaves of bread, which, at the time, were about $5.00 or more (I was buying the 'good' bread), and I thought to myself, "Huh. I wonder how hard it is to make bread."

I remember looking up a recipe in Betty Crocker and discovered I only needed five ingredients. When I purchased said ingredients and realized how much cheaper it was to make homemade bread versus buying it (not to mention how much better it smells and tastes), I stopped buying bread.

This discovery trickled into all of the bread products I now consume and into the sweeter baking arena. Of course, The Great British Baking Show was a very large inspiration for the fancier baked goods I make now (who did that show not inspire?).

Ice Queen: What are some of your favorite literary magazines?

Allyn: Even though I've been in the submitting game for quite a while now (about eight years), I'm still learning my favorite magazines. I tend to choose where I submit similarly to how I choose my wine. If it has a cool title, a really neat website, and the writing they publish is writing I really enjoy, I submit to them. Sometimes it's delicious, sometimes it's not. Regardless, I'm always grateful that someone took an interest in my poetry and to have slices of my writing out in the world.


Allyn Bernkopf is pursuing her Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University, where she was the recipient of the Gladys Burris Creative Writing Fellowship and is an Associate Editor for The Cimarron Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bayou Magazine, After Happy Hour Review, Thimble Literary Magazine, Two Thirds North Magazine, The Greensboro Review, and others, and has been anthologized in Women's Voices Anthology and Lost: Reflections. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Weber State University.

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