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Cover, - Gluttonous Bears - David S. Warren
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All You Need
by Davey Weathercock, Guest Editor

We animals are passionate about food, especially when we don’t really need it, like the stuffed animals pictured on our cover: abandoned and lovelorn playthings, looting a refrigerator and struggling over a mess of condiments that they don’t truly want, and which they could never quite eat, being as they are mostly mouthless and overstuffed.

What you see there is a scene of pure gluttony: and is punished in Hell. (See in this issue Chaucer’s classic tale of gross gluttony, to which Cornell Professor Emeritus Pete Wetherbee has graciously provided an introduction.) Plato joked with his discussion group in Athens once that humans can be defined as “featherless bipeds”; so the next day his quick friend Dyogines showed up with a plucked chicken to challenge the claim. But, no joke, having lived among chickens for fifteen or twenty years I have learned that in just about every way, especially in regard to food issues, chickens are pretty much us, despite or because of our being the ruling species. We have bred them in our own image. Of course there is at least a cultural difference between us and our chicken counterparts. The late twentieth-century, French anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss, in his pungent book: THE RAW AND THE COOKED, suggested that what made humans HUMAN, was not standing upright, not inventing religion, art, or rock and roll; and it was certainly not politics (in which we MOST resemble chickens). It was COOKING that set us apart from them and the other animals.
If this issue of the Metaphysical Times were all about recipes, I would offer mine for the most nourishing, fueling, comforting, hydrating, and medicating of all foods, which just happens to be CHICKEN SOUP. And I would suggest that you add the left-over whey from your cheese making, and a lot of garlic freshly ground from dehydrated slices. Even chickens benefit from the garlic, and they eat the soup eagerly, whether or not they know it is chicken soup. But of course, the old cannibal joke is that “long Pig” tastes a lot like chicken.

This issue of the magazine concerns not just chickens, recipes, or cooking, but food in general. Because it is not exclusively cooking (in the sense of putting meat to the heat) that makes for domesticated food: We the people tamed bacteria and yeasts before we began roasting worms or birds. Eve crushed the apple beneath her heel, so pretty soon she discovered hard cider … and then came yeasty bread and before long the wondrous bacterial world of cheese. Chickens like it very stinky, but stinky is only a word and I eat no words. Davey Weathercock is a roving weatherman and
free-lance Dog Herder who reported on storms and
climatic events for the TinyTownTimes until the unfortunate
crash in this close-to-final episode: (to see "experimental and other episodes right here)http://

Davey Weathercock & Dot crowing



A Pardoner in medieval Europe, though not necessarily in holy orders, was licenced by the Church to grant pardons for sins in return for contributions. The office was widely abused and, as the pardoners were in effect traveling salesmen, they were widely criticized, It was largely the selling of pardons that provoked Martin Luther’s attacks on the corruption of the Church.

Chaucer’s Pardoner is one of the most complicated characters among the pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales. His forceful preaching makes him a successful pardoner, but his open and avowed commitment to acquisition distances him from others, as does his apparently congenital sterility, and this alienation is painful. His rapacity and his cynicism about his profession mask a deep longing for love and fellowship, and a bitter hatred of his role and condition, which he sees as a kind of curse, the signs of an incurable spiritual sickness.

The attack on gluttony and drunkenness in this excerpt from one of his sermons is powerful, but its power is disproportionate to the nature of the sins described: Adam and Eve were not expelled from Paradise because of gluttony. The excess and venom are a symptom of the Pardoner’s hatred of the body, above all his own body, though he pursues the very sins he attacks: the lines on cheap wine and drunken sleep have a flophouse authenticity that suggests both the sordidness of his way of life and his extreme need for human contact.

(read Chauncer's original and Pete Wetherbee's translation)

The Half-Pound Piece of Toast
an excerpt from:
The Imaginary Girlfriend: A Memoir
by John Irving

My time at the academy was marked by two important transitions in Exeter wrestling under Coach Seabrooke. First, the wrestling room was moved from the basement of the old gymnasium to the upper reaches of the indoor track, which was called “the cage.” The new room, high in the rafters, was exceedingly warm; from the hard-packed dirt of the track below us, and from the wooden track that circumscribed the upper level, came the steady pounding of the runners. Once our wrestling practice was underway, we wrestlers never heard the runners. The wrestling room was closed off from the wooden track by a heavy sliding door. Before and after practice, the door was open; during practice, the door was closed.

The other wrestling-related change that marked my time at Exeter was the mats themselves. I began wrestling on horsehair mats, which were covered with a filmy, flexible plastic; as a preventive measure against mat burns, this plastic sheeting was modestly effective, but—like the sheet on a bed—it loosened with activity. The loose folds were a cause of ankle injuries; also, the shock-absorbing abilities of those old horsehair mats were nonexistent in comparison to the comfort of the new mats that arrived at Exeter in time to be installed in the new wrestling room.
The new mats were smooth on the surface, with no cover. When the mats were warm, you could drop an egg from knee height and the egg wouldn’t break. (Whenever someone tried this and the egg broke, we said that the mat wasn’t warm enough.) On a cold gym floor, the texture of the mat would radically change. Later, I kept a wrestling mat in my unheated Vermont barn; in midwinter the mat was as hard as a floor. (read the rest of this story)


The Life and Diet of Jim Worms
by David S. Warren

The Peckerwood village dogs always were waiting
for dried-worm treats twenty minutes before
Jim appeared at their gate to announce himself:

“Hallo the House,
Here be Jim Worms Freedman
DeBeeman Washington,
here to dig worms”

Jim’s hands and face were brown and veined like oak leaves in fall; and he was over six feet tall … which made him seem like a friendly tree when he stooped to talk with a common five- foot yeoman of those days.

In every season and all weather Jim wore several layers of oil-stained sail cloth sewed with leather cord, and a tri-corner hat that he removed only in greeting, when crawling through hollow trees to gather honey, or as a pillow wherever he lay himself down at night.
Everywhere that Jim went on his rounds he carried a long duffle bag across his back, swinging from one hand, or perfectly balanced and stiff as a log atop his padded hat. (go to the rest of the story)




An excerpt from the novel in progress
Self-Portrait in a Hat
by Rhian Ellis

People were shrieking and not only the ladies, I wish to point out. Gertrude was the first to move.

She stepped over the wreckage, lifting her skirt out of the pool of wine and food, and knelt down next to the man. She put her fingers on his neck, then put her ear close to his mouth. "Miss Stein has been to medical school," I heard someone say, although that was only somewhat true. Everyone watched as she shut the man's eyes with a quick movement and stood up again.

"Yes, I'm afraid he's dead.

I suppose he was a cat burglar. Very unfortunate." There was an uncomfortable chuckle. Of course! A cat burglar! Who else would be up on the roof so late in the evening? But then Helen started screaming.

"Oh, my God! My God!" She put her hands over her mouth as if to stop herself from screaming, her eyes wide and horrified.

"It's Mosier!" she cried. "It's Mosier!"
Her screaming went on and on.

(read the rest of the story)

My Father the Clamcake
by Franklin Crawford

I don't remember my first solid food. I remember my baby bottles, how they were gathered up one day and thrown out. It traumatized me. A pack of dogs knocked over the garbage cans and the bottles, my lifelines, were strewn all over the lawn. I shrieked.

From that point on, I was not to suck on a rubber-nibbed bottle, but to take my nourishment from a glass or at table with the family. I'm sure Mom cut my dinner meat into bits for me and I must've been trained to use a fork, but I was bottle-weaned, not breast fed, and the bottle was my solace. The rubber nipple was the perfect way to chew and drink at the same time.

You'd think one's first solid food would be a memorable thing. I don't recall any of my first meals. Later, I do recall trying to hide pieces of liver in my mashed potatoes because I was not as adept as my brother at slipping it to the dog. I was told to eat it all and my brother was no helper. Having discarded his foul meat, he told me I was a coward and that "John Wayne would eat his liver."

As I understand now, it was John Wayne's liver that eventually did him in. I sat there alone and choked it all down.

(read this story in its entirety) ______________________________

Desert Island Dining by Mark Finn
(view entire illustrated story here)


Little Round Things
by Georgia E. Warren

It’s all my brother Greg’s fault

Greg would not play with me when his friends were visiting. When nobody was around we’d play cowboys. He taught me how to do a quick draw with a cap gun. He pushed me in the tire swing that hung from a big old Elm tree in our front yard.

My other brother Freddy, however, would drink tea with me and my dolls, even if there were no treats, and even if there were no cups. Greg would only do that if there was real cake or cookies.

He was fourteen, I was four and a half. When his friends were around I was “just a baby,” "the kid" or “crybaby.”

Greg was a champion at the game of marbles and had some beautiful colored ones, some that looked like cat’s eyes, and a larger, white one called "the shooter." The boys would sit on our cement back-porch playing marbles for hours. Usually it would end when Greg owned all the marbles or my mother invited all of them in for lunch. Greg would give the other boys back enough marbles so they would come back to play again. It may have been my mother’s macaroni and cheese lunches that brought them to our house.

The game of marbles looked like a lot of fun to a precocious four and a half year old girl. The boys were all having fun, telling fourteen-year-old-boy jokes and laughing.

I still distinctly remember this short conversation I had with Greg on a particularly nice summer day, probably in 1950.

“I want to play with you guys.”

“No, go away!” he said. “You couldn’t play. There are rules to marbles and you’re stupid.”

“They’re all different colors. They’re pretty. Which one’s your favorite?

He pointed at the large white shooter marble.
“There, now get lost.”

“Can I just touch it? Please?” (I think I made a whiny sound,
I did really good whiny sounds when I wanted my way.)

“You can touch it if you promise to go away.”

“Okee dokee”

I picked it up and swallowed it.

(finish this story here)


Food Issues
by The Editors

Food Issue

As you can see from the display of gluttony on our cover, even well-stuffed animals with no need for food or mouths to eat with can have food issues.

The tiny Dogs Plot community has altogether at least eight or ten food issues among us and we could publish a food issue every feast season but still not get to the bottom of it.

This edition of the magazine will not be all about eating disorders; but to mention just a few: the one we have most in common is wanting to eat whenever we are sad, elated, depressed, or excited. Any strong emotion makes us desire to eat mounds of food as does being bored, and once we get into the habit, we need no trigger. But if we happen once in a while to be happy or even satisfied with our lives, we can FORGET to eat for most of a day. There are foods we can't stand for no good reason. There are foods some of us won't eat for what we consider moral reasons. We all have issues.
(finish this article here)


by Annie Campbell

I’d always had a sweet tooth, but about twenty-six years ago I suddenly developed absolutely insane cravings for desserts. I’d mix double batches of chocolate-chip cookie dough and eat half the batter raw. Then, I’d eat a bunch of mouth-singeing cookies minutes after taking them out of the oven. Harley was lucky if there were a few cookies left for him.

When I went grocery shopping in Wegmans, I’d fill a small bag with cookies and chocolates from the bulk food section, pay for my groceries and devour everything in the bag before I got home. Sometimes I managed to resist and didn’t buy any crap in Wegmans. But then, on the way home my cravings would overtake me and I’d stop at the little store where I usually bought gas. I’d buy myself horrible things like stale cookies, or cup cakes with gross icing on top and goopy-crap inside them, and eat all of it before I pulled into our driveway.

(go to story)

EatingWith the Ancestors

by Nancy Vieira Couto

            Those milk bottles, with a generous amount of cream at the top, reminded me of the milk of my childhood, but I should say right from the start that milk and I have always had a difficult relationship.  I remember that we had three kinds of milk in our tenement: chocolate milk, coffee milk, and plain milk.  Chocolate milk had some sort of cocoa powder stirred into it, while coffee milk was made with Silmo Coffee Syrup, a long-gone product that was once a staple in the New Bedford area.  Of the three, plain milk was the one I liked the least, although it was the simplest to prepare.  My mother would remove the orange cellophane from the top of the milk bottle, rinse the top of the cardboard cap, and give the bottle a vigorous shake.  Then she would remove the cap, pour some milk into a saucepan, and start warming it up.  Of course when my mother poured the warm plain milk over my breakfast Cheerioats, they immediately turned to mush. Truth is, I didn't like Cheerioats much either, and changing the name to Cheerios didn't make them any less mushy.  I didn't know then, and didn't learn until I was in college, that other people enjoyed their cereal with cold milk.

(go to rest of the story)


Where Food Goes
by David S. Warren

So we bought a fruit crusher and new, larger press to use on our pears when they ripened last summer: a mixture of sweet and tart, mostly Asian pears. Some of the cider was consumed when still fresh and sweet, and most is now in the later stages of fermentation.

Meanwhile we had realized that a cider press is about the same thing as a cheese press. Being big cheese eaters,we ordered the basic tools, the coagulants and the fermentation cultures to make most any cheese.

Of course cheese making doesn’t always require a press, or need to be a lot more complicated than letting raw milk go sour. I heard on the radio that in prison, where improvisation is necessary, determined cheese-addicts use Real Lemon concentrated juice to coagulate non-dairy creamer. And there it is: easy cheesy.

We have now read so many recipes for cheese making that we are dazed and confused or maybe confused and dazed. The biggest cheesiest site on the internet has hundreds a recipes - new ones all the time, including some for mozzarella, one of which claims to be an easy thirty minute mozzarella, perfect for kids.

Don’t be fooled. The thirty minute mozzarella took a day and a half; we nearly scalded our hands in the process and never got the stuff to be stretchy as pizza dough, like it is supposed to be. So we don’t suggest you make it your first cheese.

You might want to begin with the prison cheese version, or better than that: try making the simple Portuguese kitchen cheese that Nancy Vieira Couto writes about in this issue of the magazine.

(read the beginning of this article)

Dull Ny Thinger

by Gabreal Orgrease

“Hey, sonny doy, dull ny thinger.”
 “Granpa, no.”
 “I’m not yer Granda ya little tord. Now dull ny thinger.”

 Aubergine Bawcutt, the talking eggplant, is the infamous Catskill ventriloquist Lorne Surlingham’s most famous dummy. Which is not saying a whole lot for dummies or back alley ventriloquists. A fat purple eggplant poked onto the top end of a broomstick, fastened with brass thumbtacks -- white eyes of radish slices with red peel rings, a petite carrot nose and a thin white-green slice for a mouth. The Chef’s Dummy they used to call her in the good old days on the underground circuit. A sort of Ubu Roi take-off in the vegetable and janitorial kingdom that never translated well to television but was a backstage hit at a thousand and twenty-three catered birthday parties.

 “Oh man, grandpa, do you really have to do that? It isn’t funny any more.”

(read this story in its entirety)



Possum Food

by Sue-Ryn Burns

One Saturday shortly after July 4th, when it was fairly quiet and we had released most of the first-litter squirrels and had most of the waterfowl in outside pens, the phone rang. In what can only be considered a moment of temporary insanity, I agreed to take 11 baby Opossums, rescued from a very busy roadside after their mother was killed by a car.
I was of course immediately charmed by the cute little babies. They look like they're wearing opera gloves and their tails are like a fifth hand. Their big pink scalloped ears have black stripes. They each had a widow's peak! They seem to be always in some kind of physical contact with each other – piled up to sleep, sitting on each other, holding paws, or keeping their tails entwined.

(read this entire story here) _______________________

by Don Brennan

Sharing food with family and friends, while appreciating life’s blessings, can be a form of mindfulness that allows us to receive more energy from our food.

While enjoying food with Reiki practitioners, it’s not unusual to see people holding their hands above their food to fill it with Reiki before they eat. Most people seem to have the right attitude that this is a blessing and an enhancement of the food. But it’s clear that some are worried that the food might have negative energy within it.

When we experience fear, worry or anger, we cannot practice mindfulness. These feelings disconnect us and take us out of the Now. We feel unloved and unsupported. “Be Grateful,” the third Reiki Principle taught by Usui Sensei, serves as advice to help us become centered. Being grateful means nourishing gratitude in your heart, for no specific reason. It means being grateful for the gift of existence. Gratitude brings you here, into the present moment. When you are present, you are connected with all of life, with all of creation. And all is well.
All is as it should be.
(read this entire article here)


Helium Dogs (go to)

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The focus of our next Metaphysical Times will be
"Significant Dreatures"


Gluttony and Food Issues

(Guest editor) All You Need

• PETE WETHERBEE Introduction to and translation of: The Pardoner On Gluttony
by Geoffrey Chaucer

Possum Food

Desert Island Dining

The Half Pound Piece of Toast

The Life and Diet of Jim Worms

My Father the Clamcake

Blood on the Dining Room Floor

Little Round Things

Dull Ny Thinger

Eating With the Ancestors
– Curds and Whey



Where Food Goes

Helium Dogs


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