A clerestory is a window which allows light and air into the body of an old building. Clerestory Magazine stories and storytellers are like windows through which the pain and beauty of the human experience shine.

The Clerestory Podcast S1 E25

The Oklahoma Tenant Farmer and Me
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ISSUE No. 6 Food

In the sixth issue of Clerestory Magazine, poets and writers explore how food comforts and connects us to each other.

Editor’s Letter
essay Grill Night on Virginia Street

Sunset, palm trees, and chicken on the grill - these three ingredients should have made for a perfect evening.

essay Food, A Love Language

Cherished family memories ground and bond us, enriching our lives in ways nothing else can.

essay A Work of Art

That hot June night, my mother made me ride with her in the dark blue Dodge out to Route 38, what we thought of as “the highway.”

essay End of Days

What a dinner Monica has prepared for us. First, she and Allesandro and the younger couple with the baby girl, bowls of snacks and a glass of local red wine in the shade of the towering fig tree.

essay Savoring Central Texas and, Specifically, Its Barbecue

When I was a girl, I knew only one thing about Loop 360: it was the road that took my family to the barbecue restaurant overlooking Bull Creek

essay When Everything Was Everything

Years before I went to restaurants with dishes like “scallop mousse” and “seaweed gremolata” on the menu, I was a Jersey girl who loved bagels.

essay Easy as Pie

I cleaned out the cookware cabinet in my kitchen. Marie Kondoed it. 

essay An Old Hunger

The gutter overflowed with brown, spiky husks like the aftermath of a tiny urchin apocalypse.

essay My Mother's Recipes

What could she have wanted with all of those empty containers, so meticulously cleaned and stored so haphazardly around the house?

poem Basque Cooking

Plenty of potatoes, garlic and lamb. Bundles of sage and jugs of harsh red wine.

poem Tea Ceremony

I know you would remember every tea, we sipped in New York, Philadelphia, Toronto—blurred, now, to Earl Grey for me.

poem Saffron

The pistils stand on end—thin red reeds, in a tiny glass bottle.

poem After Another School Shooting, I Cook Red Beans and Rice

I can't hear the TV news over the soothing static of diced onion in the pan.

poem Bliss

The tomatoes cool themselves, in the long breezes, hoarding in their flesh, fabulous waters.

poem Watermelon

Haven't we all been cut into halves? One half empathy, one half what the hell.

poem Oatmeal Morning

No amount of mother’s food or drink could give her comfort.

poem Bread

Put yeast in a cup with hot water and sugar.  Sift...

poem A Catered Event

Her shadow on the barn, cast by winter-weary sun, is taller than a five-year-old.

poem Ferment

Cucumbers sprawling in garden, insects tickling yellow flowers, we grow together.

poem Just Soup

She, holding ladle, wanting, no, needing to help.

poem The Avocado

Dressed up like an armadillo rolled into a ball, the avocado ripens on the sill.

poem Fruit Trees

Old man Peesel’s cherry orchard, of the empty prairie, the fruit reddened our fingers, lips...

poem Kitchens

For my grandmother, fat was a solution, not a problem: my grandmother’s miracles employed bacon fat and lard.

ISSUE No. 5 History

In the fifth issue of Clerestory Magazine, writers explore the events, stories, and relationships which shape us.

Editor’s Letter
essay Family First

A reflection in ten steps

essay The Oklahoma Tenant Farmer and Me

Last fall, my dad showed me five three-ring binders he kept in his home office. Each was filled with original handwritten letters, many of them yellowed with age and written by my great-grandfather

poem Mr. Cop

On the shelves in the back of room 211, our US History books waited at rest.

poem Questioning Plates

How did you know, dear dish, that you were ready to mend? What caused the old shatters? Is a shard a body, too? 

essay Like No Other Place

Cleveland was the place we went back to. Like homing pigeons or salmon returning to spawn. Cleveland felt like no other place, not home exactly, but something separate and apart.

poem Judgement

It is not always a guilt-and-punishment salve to put over what’s been hurting. 

essay How I Became a Published Author in Prison

At 18 years old, sitting in my prison cell, I was very lonely. I had just been sentenced to 241 years in prison.

poem Day of the Girl

Vicenza became Genevieve when she landed on American soil at the turn of the century.

essay On History

The George Eliot Fellowship greeted my second cousin and myself in Nuneaton with hot tea, biscuits, and a copy of every book that George Eliot had ever written.

essay History Books in Finger Crooks

All that remains of Gridley’s store is some time-curled paper copies of these supposed facts recorded by someone associated with the State of Connecticut Historical Commission for the Historic Resources Inventory and haphazardly shoved in a purple file folder marked “House Documents” by me.

essay Three Strong Women

Tape recorder on, I tried interviewing my 75–year old grandmother for a 6th grade school project. “I can’t talk about it,” my Bubbe said in her Russian-English accent.

poem She Was Invisible

Thrown into a boat to be tossed between two worlds . . .

poem The Anatomy of Grief

That December, the dust did not settle properly on his sister's graveyard.

essay The Art of Loss

Once upon a time… all history books should begin like a fairytale. 

essay Day Three of 2022

On day three of 2022, I found myself giving our Christmas tree the stink eye, its presence a reminder of our Covid-stricken holiday season.

essay Izyaslav

In the summer of 1997, at five years old, I place my grubby little fingers on a thin trunk, the grey bark slightly soft beneath my palms. . .

interview Redefining Our Identity as Children of Cambodian Genocide Survivors

I am the daughter of Cambodian Genocide survivors.

essay The Legacy of Mirabai

In July of 1998, on a high school auditorium stage in central New Jersey, I played the starring role of Mirabai, a 16th century Hindu bhakti poet and mystic, in a semi-classical Indian dance drama.

essay On Activism and Contemplation

I have often felt, throughout my life, that activism was a “given,” meaning that it was something I was expected to do.

essay Counting the Minutes with Tears

Once I was in New York with my partner. The MOMA was closing in 30 minutes, so we decided to pay full price to see Starry Night.

essay Origami: My Personal History with an Ancient Art Form

When winter rolled around and the other kids were busily cutting paper snowflakes, I was drawing circle snowmen and triangle Christmas trees...

poem The night of your baptism

The night of your baptism, your native name sounded like a bullet, lodging itself beneath your tongue...

essay Racism and My Tea Obsession

I am a former refugee, and a tea fanatic, living in Ottawa, Canada. When I rented my first house in the city, I understood that my love for African tea would be a trigger for racism.

essay Digging for My Roots, I Turned to Tomatoes 

The hot, muggy Maryland summers of my childhood were filled with outdoor activity. Some of this time was spent, willingly or not, helping out in the family garden.

poem Celestial Crossroads

In the celestial port of the Soul at the crossroads between Life and Death - or is this just a dream? - she waits . . .

essay Following the Ancestral Trail of Bravery

From the beginning of time, people have faced tragedies. Why do some adapt better than others? It's the history of my family that encourages me.