Casserole Queen, by Marc Frazier

Hot from the oven sitting in a pool of grease: full-of-fat ground beef, a layer of instant mashed potatoes, an ample topper of Velveeta cheese: gourmet cooking in the early sixties. Other days:  fish sticks not resembling fish, gelatinous pot pies with gristly beef, scrambled egg sandwiches with ketchup, pizza from a box with bland red sauce from a plastic packet topped with little bits of cheese. On Sunday a meal in honor of churchgoing and relatives. Father’s hand orchestrates the Sunday roast browned first on all sides in the electric skillet, joined by fresh carrots, a quartered onion and peeled potatoes. Aunt Bertha helps with the gravy, a challenge for mother. Standing in her heavy orthopedic shoes, she stirs water into a flour paste in the emptied skillet. The best china is set upon the table with two leafs added. Additions to make this a more formal affair: a butter knife retrieved from somewhere, cloth tablecloth and napkins, heavy water glasses, a vase of zinnias centered. As grace is recited, we children put on our civilized selves, resigned.


Marc Frazier is a Chicago-area, LGBTQ author who has published poetry in over one hundred journals. A recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry, he’s been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and two Best of the Nets. Marc has published three full-length poetry books all available online at