“‘Why Chicken Explodes in the Microwave’ by Nolcha Fox: A Review” by Barbara Leonhard

Nolcha Fox’s latest book Why Chicken Explodes in the Microwave (found at Dancing Girl Press) is about more than the mess an exploding chicken can make in the microwave. This image is hallmark Nolcha Fox humor. As I read this collection, I sensed the chaos and imbalance we all experience in life. The vertigo caused by violence, grief, and loss causes us to swirl and stumble. Even time itself is tipsy in some poems as Fox plays with Now versus What is Next versus Before (“Tricky”).

This collection is rich with metaphor covering many aspects of trauma in our contemporary life. I will highlight some examples. I highly recommend that you purchase the book to enjoy all these well-crafted and clever poems. 

Part 1 of the book, “Chaos and Other Things I Can’t Nail Down”, hits the reader right away with the tsunami caused by anger, worry, broken relationships, shattered dreams, poor communication, and other triggers. The memory is the wind, which holds the haze of cigarette smoke, a metaphor of the slow-burning fire, smoldering beneath the surface of unhappy relationships. In “Worry”, 

He laughs and lights a match.
I burst into flames.

As the title of this section of the poem states, Fox can’t “nail down” the causes of the chaos because there is so much trauma. It’s no wonder chicken explodes on the microwave. Think about the building up of pressure in our own heads when we are in a time and place where we shouldn’t be. Her poem depicts our uncontrolled excess, misguided intentions, fakery, and inane attempts to recover. 

Why Chicken Explodes in the Microwave

A suspicious loud bang announces 
decimated chicken
pasted to every surface of the microwave.

Another example
of the peculiar law of expansion,
applied to varicose veins, hips, and grudges, anything that must take up all available space, littering the universe with debris,
mangling my attempts at
perfection and order.

Beyond frustration, I explode my smile. 
Pulled chicken, anyone?

We are caught in traps, much like mice, who at least die quickly. Our suffering is prolonged as we fumble our way through the days, trapped in time and space and having a visceral human experience of despair, loathing, instability, and possible self-destruction (“Trap”).

A bottle of bourbon in one hand, 
Sleeping pills in the other, 
Greyish-white sunset on my face. 
At least that mouse died quickly.

Inauthenticity is a culprit that creates unstable thinking and dampens our joy, causing self harm, as we can see in “The Voice in His Head”, a powerful and frightening poem.

The Voice in His Head

Can’t you see from the window?
Step onto the ledge.
Look down.
Where are the swings that tossed you into the air? 
Where is the tree with your carved initials, 
marking your first kiss of slobber and sweat?

All flattened, all gone.
See how they pour concrete over your childhood.

For a blink, that dirty desolation will be virgin white,
until it loses its innocence to
yellow parking stall stripes.

The streets prowl its perimeter, 
buildings spy and gossip of its shame.

Such an allegory of your wasted life. 
You, a shadow, a reflection
of others’ needs.

You gave them what they wanted. 
What’s left of you now?
All flattened, all gone.

Be brave!
Let others see you for who you really are! 
For once, make a lasting impression.


Another poem, “Out of Order”, paints a Picasso-like internal landscape of our imbalanced self-perceptions. 
Out of Order

I cannot pull myself together. 
My foot is planted in my mouth 
Upside down, toes wiggling, 
next to tulips and lilies.
I water them every Monday.

My right eye blinks
on my left knee,
looking for grease.
The elbow where my foot once was 
is afraid of slipping.

An ear on the heel
of my right foot
is to the ground,
listening to my teeth
that are down in the mouth.

My fingers sprout
from my derriere,
being underhanded.
My brain is sitting on my gut 
because I’m empty-headed.

The saddest part
is no one sees
that I am out of order.

In Part 2 of the book, “Trying to Relate”, Fox plays with time. The poet is restless, wanting to escape and be free, like she used to be, a gypsy in another life. She invokes Now as an anchor for the ungrounded. This invocation is like a prayer if desire can manifest healthy outcomes as she writes about how love is taken for granted and tears become dead dreams. She wants a new chance for love to be restored. 

Perhaps it’s just the snow and ice 
That chill my peace of mind. 
And so I cling to you, my sweet, 
to anchor me to Now.

Sometimes we destroy what saves us (“Now I’m Happy”). Also, we communicate in code;   Our thoughts do not match our words, another disconnect.

“Good morning, dear!”
her voice sweet syrup
as she flips a flapjack in the pan.
            I forgot to tell him, he’ll kill me....

“Good morning, love!” he kisses her on the cheek.
            Breakfast? Her mother must be coming.

In response to our disorderly thinking, her poem “Coffee at the Cottage”, seems to say, “tisk, tisk, tisk” as the poem is alliterative with words beginning with the sound /k/. A clicking chicken is also brought to mind. Perhaps we are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off due to all our trauma, including the threat of microwave ovens. Here’s a sample.

Cracked crockery
clutters the counter,
cockeyed cabinets can’t quite close. 
Confused as the conversation from 
chaotic consciousness.

In Part 3, “Write, Write, Write”, I feel that the poet wants to get things Right, Right, Right. Her thoughts are compared to a garden plagued by bramble of doubt and fear that chokes her words, among other comparisons showing our mental and emotion chaos. However, the poem offers some hope.

Rhyme pokes through
Thick foliage
Brave flowers, 
crying for coffee.

Proud hollyhocks,
Shouting colors,
Rise high.

Nonetheless, metaphors are mixed and half-baked in “Butterfly Bread”. I recall the phrase, “butterflies in my stomach”; that is, our anxiety and worry, which in this poem we bake into our food along with generational trauma,

Mix the butterflies into yourself.
For extra spice, add
Aunt Mae’s arthritis and a
50s horror marathon.

We “knead” our “need” and “feed the world”, that is, we spread our trauma to others. 

In Part 4, “Lift My Spirit”, blessings and prayers seem ludicrous, but Fox’s comical depictions of our relationship to God are far from sacrilege. Spirit always sits beside the mundane, doesn’t it? In “Seeing Angels Everywhere”, 

Sally swears (cross her heart
and Platex bra)
she sees angels in
unlikely places.

Although some people are blessed with angels, others feel they are lacking. The last section of poems is a prayer for grace,

Please grant me the grace 
to believe in Sally’s angels,
to see angels everywhere,
to see angels in people I meet.

In “When the Dam Breaks”, 

Chaos and the dead arising, God’s
love and blessings. Remember us.

As we read the last poem I’m this collection, “Donuts and Coffee”, aren’t we all like Monica, who struggles with suspicions and seeks solace in church, where she faces imperfection but realizes she has to forgive and pray for Jesus to rescue her from “this chocolate-covered mess” and to help restore her faith even though the human struggle to forgive is a struggle, soothed by sugar and caffeine. 

      Through him, and with him, and in him...
Lift me up with you, Jesus, she prays, 
out of this chocolate-covered mess 
I’ve made of my life
Help me love You more than him.

Feed us, Jesus, she prays,
with Your body and blood.
Feed us with your love.
Her suspicions don’t care, they run out the door, 
to feast on donuts and coffee.

Through humor and keen metaphors in this collection, Fox leads us to see that love and faith are solutions to the chaos, fear, anxiety, instability, and confused thinking we all suffer from in the malaise of today as Fox reminds us in “Donuts and Coffee”,

Monica squinches when the organist
plays wrong notes and races through hymns. 
She slumps when the choir sings flat.
But she knows they’re all doing their best
to love God as He loves us.

(© Barbara Leonhard)

Cited Poetry
Copyright © 2023 Nolcha Fox
All Rights Reserved

Nolcha’s poems have been published in Lothlorien Poetry JournalAlien Buddha ZineMedusa’s Kitchen, and others. Her poetry books are available on Amazon and Dancing Girl Press. Nominee for 2023 Best of The Net. Editor for Open Arts Forum. Accidental interviewer/reviewer. Faker of fake news. You can follow Nolcha on her Website. Facebook. Instagram: nfoxauthor.

Featured Image: Book Cover for Why Chicken Explodes in the Microwave

Editor: Barbara Harris Leonhard 

MasticadoresUSA is open for submissions. Send your submissions to meelosmom@gmail.com.

Please follow MasticadoresUSA for more great reads!

Amazon Best-Selling Author, Three-Penny Memories: A Poetic Memoir (EIF-Experiments in Fiction, 2022) Pushcart Nominee, 2022; Facebook: Barbara Harris Leonhard /barbara.leonhard; Twitter: @BarbaraLeonhar4; Instagram: @meelosmom123; Linked In: ExtraordinarySunshineWeaver

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11 Comentarios Agrega el tuyo

  1. Meelosmom dice:

    I really enjoyed reading and reviewing your book, Nolcha! I hope my review didn’t slight anything. Thank you for allowing me to publish this review today as a companion to “Chimes”, your collaboration with Ken Tomaro.

    Le gusta a 1 persona

    1. nolchafox dice:

      Thank you, Barbara, for such a lovely review! I’m glad you enjoyed the book!

      Le gusta a 1 persona

      1. Meelosmom dice:


        Le gusta a 2 personas

  2. jonicaggiano dice:

    Dear Barbara I don’t think I have ever read a more comprehensive review before. It sounds like an amazing book too.

    This lady sounds like an honest and vivid writer that any woman could appreciate.

    I really loved all the examples of her delightful poetry you used.

    Thank you for sharing so much and a big congratulations to Nolcha Fox. By the way what an amazing title. 🎊🌟🎉🎊🌟

    Le gusta a 1 persona

    1. Meelosmom dice:

      Thank you, Joni! Your words mean a lot to me.♥️♥️♥️

      Me gusta

  3. michnavs dice:

    This is a well written and comprehensive review of the book..and the title really intrgued me a lot…then i went on to finish your review and i am so pleased at how well you made us understood the underlying humor.

    Me gusta

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