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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 9: August 2021
Prose poem: 229 words [R]
By Lorette C. Luzajic

The Shawarma King

—After Kebab Chef by Harumi Kiyota*

His hands are oddly long and whiz past fast, all whir and blur in motion. He is a cartoon, or a machine. Bird hands, as long and lean as Giacometti. He plucks plump and briny olives, coaxes fuchsia radishes onto pita. Shakes the vinegar peppers and garlic onto the meat. Drizzle, sizzle, sumac, salt. Perfection, best in show. Messy, juicy, chile afterglow. This man from Gaza. His hair is razed half an inch from his head, as if he hates an errant strand in his eyes because he can’t see what’s in front of him. He will not be slowed. He can craft five shawarmas at once, in five minutes flat and still superb. You have tried making small talk, asking about the world he came from. But he has fish to fry and lentils to ladle. He is always in a hurry. Even so, you have tried to convey what this means to you, having the world’s best shawarma on your block, right here in Canada, next to Tim Hortons. The tahini alone is miraculous. You leave a tip the size of the sandwich, and he finally pauses, flashes a toothy smile. The man with the fast hands and the tender meat that sends you says, Well, what can I say, eh? I’m the shawarma king, I can do anything.


—From Winter in June (Mixed Up Media Editions, 2021), Luzajic’s latest collection of ekphrastic writing; appears here with her permission.

*Publisher’s Note:

This oil-on-panel painting by contemporary Japanese artist Harumi Kiyota (date of birth unknown) may be viewed at her website (link retrieved in August 2021):

Lorette C. Luzajic
Issue 9, August 2021

is from Toronto, Canada. Her prose poetry and flash fiction are widely published in literary journals and anthologies, with recent or forthcoming appearances in Gyroscope, Free Flash Fiction, Bright Flash, Club Plum, Red Eft, and Indelible. A recent story won first place in a contest at MacQueen’s Quinterly, and her work has been nominated multiple times for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Her most recent of six collections of prose poems are Pretty Time Machine (2020) and Winter in June (2021). Some of her works have been translated into Urdu.

Lorette is founder and editor of The Ekphrastic Review (established 2015), a journal devoted to writing inspired by art. She is also an award-winning visual artist, with collectors in 30 countries from Estonia to Qatar. Visit her at: www.mixedupmedia.ca

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Two Must-Read Books by The Queen of Ekphrasis, commentary in MacQ-9 (August 2021) by Clare MacQueen, with links to additional resources

Featured Author: Lorette C. Luzajic at Blue Heron Review, with two of her prose poems (“Disappoint” and “The Piano Man”); plus “Poet as Pilgrim,” a review of Pretty Time Machine by Mary McCarthy (March 2020)

Fresh Strawberries, an ekphrastic prose poem in KYSO Flash (Issue 11, Spring 2019), nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize

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