Cold Waffling

Sammie Stone Werkheiser


The mail has lessened. People I love have lives.
The shift is a cold snap, how autumn shakes leaves in hurry
and winter slaps faces without apology.
I didn’t hear my name called—frostbite on the toes.

At home you light jar candles to make our house
smell pretty, the way I did. As I sip, you might be
watching the flickering light, its warmth our substitute
until visit day, when your hand alone fills the void.

I’m getting used to it, how temperature shocks the body.

Saturday morning clockwork: three mini waffles,
Rice Krispies for breakfast served on a humble tray,
orange plastic spork in tow. I delight in dumping coffee
crystals into the mess hall brown water. I tell myself I’m fancy,

I have coffee. I’m reminded of you in the scent, warmth,
the blackness that soothes, I can do something you do.
I have my arm around your freedom.
I can taste the coffee on your mouth. It is home.

Good news — tomorrow is waffles for breakfast.

They are almost always cold. Remember fighting in the shitty
little apartment, as my mom called it? I loved the home we made
through our bickering, I pressed your buttons, the waffle’s middle
still frozen. I laughed and laughed, which made you cry.

I blamed it on the waffle, but I was being cruel.
My beloved, there is nothing funny about a cold waffle.
When I get home I’ll light a candle, put on the coffee, pull out
the waffle iron. I understand. You always make them best.



Chicken Adobo

Sammie Stone Werkheiser

The thermal shirt hugs
her tiny torso tight;
hip to one side, flip flop out.
My hands can nearly
fit around her waist but I refrain.
She’s standing at our stove,
hair in 40 tight braids.
She flips the chicken
in the frying pan ever so gently.
I could spend all day
studying her cookery.
She doesn’t really like
to be bothered in the kitchen
so I let her do her thing
and simply observe:
she has this way of tapping
the adobo oh­so­delicate,
shaking it like a bell
with a flick of her wrist.
Her ass fills her sweats sweetly,
I have to look.
She reaches over to check the rice.
Not done, still crunchy.
Perfectionist, a typical Virgo
ripping the seasoning open,
a raining shower of orange, tap tap tap—
she gets all the flavor into the sauce pot.
She is beautiful in all her orderly ways.
Although we’re in prison, I can see her clearly:
she’s home, making dinner
for two daughters and a son.
I want to be at her kitchen table.
I want her to turn to me, to smile
quietly I watch her putting
the finishing touches on simmer.
I imagine a hug she doesn’t stiffen for.
I pretend she lets me kiss her temple
in the sweet place where forehead bends to braid.
I would press my lips on her brown skin.
She would grin.
The rice would be done.



Pink and Blue

Sammie Stone Werkheiser


Mama, I grab your hand today,
like everyday of my three years of life.
Brown paper bag is what I touch,
clenching tightly to your hold,
every crevice of your palm is mosaic
that I square, these are my mama’s hands,
mine for the taking,
rocks between us are ice chips cracking,
my head is the height of your hip
to me, you are queen, gigantic, my giraffe
that protects, the bustle to market
weaving through our slum town, our skin
is brown, we pray someday
there will always be clean water
transparent ribbons that fall from faucets;
we will have rice grains that fall from sky,
a snow I’ve never seen, flakes cooked
into pot, the clouds above us all knowing
as you walk beside me, we are not fortunate
but we are royalty, mama,
for the way we rise like ashes
we know tomorrow brings us another meal
sweet drink and the promise that you will feed me
even if you have to be with city men
to make my belly full, I know you will,
mama, I know.



(Something That Would Never Happen)

Sammie Stone Werkheiser

Attention women:
we have an important announcement.
We regret to inform you that we can no longer
provide housing, effective immediately.
This correctional facility closes at noon tomorrow.
We have provided you and your fellow inmates
monetary stipends for your cost of living expenses.
We trust that as former property of state,
you will be law abiding citizens of your own accord.
It is so ordered that you must plant one tree before your death.
You must feed a homeless person.
You will hold babies and drink in their life force.
You must squish your feet into grass and sand,
it is a yearly requirement.
Celebrations of loved ones must be attended frequently.
A comfortable mattress is of utmost importance.
Blue jeans and little black dresses
are mandatory wardrobe requirements.
You must make fantastic love to your beloved.
The air will be cleaner and fresher and the gates
will be torn down tomorrow morning,
so it is hereby recommended that you cherish
every moment because time is yours,
Suffering is over.
Hand your greens in at your leisure.
Freedom, it is yours.



"Samantha Werkheiser was released from prison after serving 2 and a half years on a 12 Years to Life Sentence. One of the ways she survived on the inside is by writing poetry. She gave birth to twins while incarcerated, her baby girl dying and her son surviving. She is excited to be published and thanks Duende for the opportunity. Samantha has spent a lifetime teaching dance to children. She loves to cook. She is married to Julie Werkheiser, they have been together for 16 years. Her incarceration was the result of a custody battle and she fights for the truth in her case as well as her wife Julie's, who is also wrongfully incarcerated. Samantha is an advocate of gay rights and victims of domestic violence. She continues to write poetry as she awaits a new trial. She can be reached at"

Duende Logo Transparent Background.png