Eating Chicken Cobb Salad with a Stranger . by Katelyn Roth

Panera, noon, forced to share a table. He eats his soup


like he’s mad it’s soup. I never see him drink,

only transport the wide, flat spoon to his mouth with a fist

gripping its neck. He was Air Force—

nothing sissy about it—has driven from Colorado

to see a friend, a woman friend, and needs directions

to her house over by the country club. Got into town

too early. Time to kill.

Why call it cobb salad? No cobbs in it.

Chicken, spry romaine lettuce, withered bacon and

Gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes, a halved hard-boiled egg, avocado

if you ask for it, but no cobbs. No Charlies in My Lai, either.

No way to know, though. They all looked the same.

Went up with a gunner once, shiny new. Barely knew

where the trigger was. Had to tell him which direction to shoot in.

Probably had to tell him how to unzip his own trousers.

Took a bullet straight through his chicken plate, into his chest.

Right side, though. Didn’t have to tell him where to shoot

after that. He’d just shoot at anything.

Wedge salad is a different story. Wedge salad

is honest.


Katelyn Roth graduated from Pittsburg State University with degrees in Creative Writing and Psychology. She has been previously published in the campus literary magazine Cow Creek Review. Currently, she resides in Pittsburg with her husband and dog, where she is working on a Masters in Creative Writing at PSU.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.


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