spice jars in a cupboard
Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

Pandora's Pantry by Allen Ashley

Don’t go dissing my kitchen on Trustpilot.

I can only cook from the ingredients I can lay my gentle

hands on. Lockdowns and panic-buying certainly haven’t

helped; though, even now, most of what I use is locally

sourced, ethically procured. Box-fresh.

You say my recipes are too indulgent, full

of all the unhealthy stuff, full

of all the tasty and enjoyable stuff. My grandmother

Eve offered the sweetest apple—or was it a fig

or some other fruit?—and men’s teeth

have been decaying ever since. Don’t forget her feller

had a chance to refuse the gift.

I’ve decorated some of the cakes with mottos.

You’ll like them: Live frugally,

be at one with the Earth. Don’t

start a fire you can’t put out.

Life is not a box of chocolates, but epicurean delicacies

help us cope with what existence throws at us. At the bottom

of my spice cupboard is hope. Oh by the immortals,

it’s a bittersweet thing! Just enough to keep your belly

from feeling too empty but never enough

to satisfy on its own.


Allen Ashley is an award-winning writer and editor and is the founder of the advanced science fiction and fantasy group Clockhouse London Writers. His most recent book is the poetry collection Echoes from an Expired Earth (Demain Publishing, 2020) and he is a former president of the British Fantasy Society.

Author's note

I find myself drawn back frequently to the myths and, in particular, the characters from ancient Greece, repurposing their actions and reconsidering them through a modern lens. And also allowing me to explore contemporary concerns through the application of the historical/mythical. Carmina is an intelligent and open journal that has been welcoming to this approach.