Edible Archaeologies – Graham Irvin


1. In July of 2020, Ben drove from Cincinnati, OH to Philadelphia, PA with a guitar and two pounds of goetta

2. Goetta is like liver mush

3. Ben moved to Philadelphia for reasons other than trading liver mush for goetta but it was one of the first things he did in Philadelphia, which is important to me

4. Welcome to the city, Ben.

5. Later that week, in the middle of the night, I drank a beer and stared at my phone.

6. I couldn’t sleep

7. I drank whiskey and stared at my phone

8. I drank until the sun came up staring at my phone

9. I made goetta with corn tortillas at 6am

10. I ate goetta alone and thought, “Thank you for the goetta, Ben”

11. I thought, “It’s not liver mush but it will do”

12. When K woke up I told her, “You gotta try goetta”

13. Over and over while she worked

14. “Babe, you gotta try this goetta”

15. I’d been drinking for 7 hours and she still had a job

16. For lunch we ate goetta so I would stop talking about it

17. I was so drunk I couldn’t see

18. I didn’t cook the goetta all the way

19. There was soft pink meat inside

20. I added too much salt

21. The oil from the pan burnt a hole in my arm

22. The oil from the pan burnt a hole in my hand

23. K said, “Yea, it’s good” to make me happy

24. She had a concerned look on her face

25. K said, “Are you doing okay?”

26. I passed out half an hour later

27. The next time I saw Ben he told me, “I didn’t like the liver mush”

28. He said, “The taste wasn’t right”

29. I said, “You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about”

30. I said, “You made it wrong”

31. I drank until I couldn’t see again

32. The hole in my arm was full of yellow liquid

33. I said, “Hey man, get fucked”

34. Ben left and didn’t come back

35. I haven’t talked to him in months

36. Ben doesn’t get an apology because I said kind things about his bullshit Cincinnati breakfast meat

37. Ben, I hope you read this

38. Don’t fuck with liver mush


to elaborate on my mood
how I panicked or couldn’t think
or hallucinated the world as a video game whose mission I’d already ruined
friends family acquaintances Ben K people on the street
inscrutable avatars better never experiencing my floundering existence
to prevent the terrifying far-too-consequential impact I might wrought
on their own mission’s trajectory
but make no mistake it would never be real
and I would never approach a passing human intimacy
I was trapped in the broken mech that was my body
eternally watching a system fail

we only had 30 minutes
I talked about exercise
how much coffee I drank
I told the doctor,
“Wednesday I cried 4 hours straight
most days I can’t get out of bed
the effort to care physically hurts”

I didn’t mention liver mush
it felt like too cruel a joke


and ducks on Cooper river
are not anything else

like fly cadavers
in a spiderweb

or God’s jizz
on an oyster bed

they aren’t liver mush

they’re just frost and ducks

go to work, idiot