Word Counts | Samantha Steiner

Image: Simon Pelegrini

Fuck word counts, and fuck regret, and fuck enjoyment, and guess what? Fuck origin. That’s right, fuck origin, and fuck memory. Do you know what fuck means? A girl told me back in middle school: Fornication Under Consent of the King. She said the word was posted on the front door of every reputable home, and that it meant yes, we got the okay from our royal leader to mate, copulate, dance the horizontal polka, put the thing in the other thing. We’re sinners with a lifetime indulgence we bought in advance. We fraternize with the devil, but only according to protocol, baby.

So I say fuck word counts, and fuck regret, and fuck enjoyment, because that’s what fuck is. Fuck is enjoyment. Fuck is regret. The Fuck Word Counts. Fuck is the apology before the infraction, the permission before the play. And who is fuck for? Fuck is for the people who look like Matt Damon and Marilyn Monroe, for bodies concealed just well enough to display. Fuck is for paleness and paler-than-paleness, a certain shape of eye, a certain girth of waist, a certain functionality of limb, a certain history of genitalia. And I say fuck that.

I say fuck origin, and fuck memory, and fuck death, because fuck is a gift, and Fornication Under Consent of the King is Matt Damon in a red velvet hat and a red velvet cape, a walking blood-filled penis with a golden wand, pretending to give out fucks when in reality, he doesn’t give a fuck. I say fuck origin because fuck is origin, because before you and I were you and I, we were twinkles in the eyes of people, maybe lusty, maybe frightened, maybe willing, maybe not. I say fuck memory because fuck is memory, because no one was watching when you or I morphed from a twinkle in those eyes to a glob of cells, as the glob of cells halved and doubled into the tube that formed a mouth and an asshole, two instruments of fucking, consent of the king or not.

Fuck is one person. Fuck is two. Fuck is three. Fuck is more. Fuck is rapid addition. Fuck is no gender. Fuck is all genders. Fuck is silent. Fuck is loud. Fuck is ordinary. Fuck is occasion. Fuck is insult. Fuck is compliment. Fuck is monetized. Fuck is freely given. Fuck is hot. Fuck is cold. Fuck is chafed skin, hidden liquid, violation, ceremony. The Fuck Word counts.


Samantha Steiner is a Fulbright Scholar and two-time Best of the Net nominee. Her 2019 essay “To the Current Tenant” appears in the print anthology Coffin Bell 2.2, and other works are published or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Apple Valley Review, and The Citron Review. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.

Problem Child | Jesse Lee Pacheco + Lillie Fischer


Lillie Fischer is a storyteller and director. Her work explores loss, honesty, our relationship with the earth and how to reach out to our inner child. Currently she is prepping for several experimental short films on an artist commune in Northern Colorado with her husband and dog. @lilliefischer


Jesse Lee Pacheco is a Performance Artist from Denver, Colorado. Life is wonderful. Life should be positive. When it’s blown to pieces, that’s when it becomes art. @jesselee_sent_ya

Problem Child | Jesse Lee Pacheco + Lillie Fischer


Lillie Fischer is a storyteller and director. Her work explores loss, honesty, our relationship with the earth and how to reach out to our inner child. Currently she is prepping for several experimental short films on an artist commune in Northern Colorado with her husband and dog. @lilliefischer


Jesse Lee Pacheco is a Performance Artist from Denver, Colorado. Life is wonderful. Life should be positive. When it’s blown to pieces, that’s when it becomes art. @jesselee_sent_ya

Pretzels | Danny Mazur

image: jose aljovin

Every night before bed
I would wander into my Dad’s kingdom
Laying on his king-sized bed
With a book and pretzels scattered across his hairy chest
His trusted steeds (10 lb. twin toy poodles)
Intently waited for treats
A low static from AM talk radio filled the room
He removed suit and tie
Donning blue converse shorts, no shirt

I remember the way his toes would wiggle
How he would tell me what he was reading about
How crumbs would fall from his lips
As he laughed at his own jokes

My mind was much quieter then
No concerns of burning forests or abused children
I wasn’t stressed
By the weight of earning paychecks and paying off loans
I didn’t find myself overwhelmed
How my dreams often feel like the Amazon River
7 miles wide
And I’m on the bank
I can’t swim and my boat is on the other side

On good days,
I’ll remember the world isn’t about me
That dreams come and go
That I live with my best friend
In some sort of Earth fort
That I get to walk to work
And spend my days with kids

And when the night comes
I lay in my bed and give thanks to tired legs
I open a comic book and my toes begin to wiggle
It’s in these moments
I find my hairy chest full of pretzels


Danny Mazur’s fascination with the human experience led him to founding Soul Stories, an organization that facilitates conversations for personal healing and social change. Over the past six years, Danny has produced and facilitated over 100 Soul Stories events in the Denver community, ranging from community dialogs to live performances. Danny collaborates with members of the Denver community to create events that unpack challenging topics such as consent, personal identity, relationships, race, and even the political divide of 2020. Soul Stories events are unique spaces where people go to practice authenticity and find connection. 

This poem is from the Thought For Food anthology,
a poetry collection benefiting Denver Food Rescue.
You can purchase a copy of the book here.

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None Of That | Anna Leahy

Image: Elia Pellegrini

A friend, a fellow poet, announces
that he will someday open a restaurant
called None Of That,
wanting customers to say
Oh, I’ll have none of that,
and by that, he means cheese!

What confidence!
I see now, only years later,
its acronym: NOT.
I am jealous of his utter disdain.
I am jealous of his unwavering voice.
What would I not serve?
What would I not allow on my menu?

All I can think is beets,
but who likes beets?
They would not be missed.
No, I long to loathe
what others likely love,
and to be okay with that loathing.
But I am poor at decisions.
Insouciance is an illusion.

I desire to deny others
based on my own predilections,
the strength of my convictions,
whether right or wrong,
but I find myself lacking,
full of wishy-washy sympathy.
Though I don’t much like—what?
what is it?—mint! trigger of my migraines,
I see how others might.
I have seen the thick tongue licking
mint-chocolate-chip from a cone,
have heard talk of julep, a spoonful of sugar
to help the medicine go down.

This friend will not stop.
He claims that his second restaurant will be called
None of That Either.
He has more, more than I can muster.
I try harder to think of something, the thing.
But all I want to keep from others
is what I most want for myself
because there might not be enough
to go around.


Anna Leahy is the author of the nonfiction book Tumor and the poetry collections Aperture and Constituents of Matter. Her work has appeared at Aeon, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, The Southern Review, and elsewhere, and her essays have won top awards from the Los Angeles Review, Ninth Letter, and Dogwood. She directs the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chapman University, where she edits the international Tab Journal. See more at www.amleahy.com.

Litany Found Near a Dumpster on Fire | Samuel J Fox

Photo Credit: Chris Liu-Beers

Who among us is not filthy with desire,

made bright by the burning in their fingertips

illuminous through the smoke issuing from where eyes wander?

Tonight, I am not certain if I will be alive long enough in this America to fall in love.

Who among my kind has not been lost in this city of syringe and scar

           has not wished to be found burning with song

           has not wanted, more than being alive, to belong?

Tomorrow there will be a war between who I was and who I am and who I want to be.

I hope to know whether my flesh is made perfect by its longing

            is made bundle of kindle for the spit

or         is made beautiful in its absence.

Here. Let me warm your hands enough to show you this burning country can be a terrific place.


Samuel J Fox is a bisexual poet and lyric/personal essayist living in North Carolina. He is poetry editor at Bending Genres; he is widely publishing in online and print journals. He can be found in coffee shops, perusing graveyards, or exploring dilapidated places. He and his work can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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YUM | Caito Foster

Image: Sabina Music Rich

I couldn’t eat enough to fill myself,
an insatiable void,
and so I go hungry instead
to conserve resources
for the people I love

I’m not hungry anymore
I’ve got no more appetite for
my own suffering today,
I’ve got no tolerance
for the hunger pains,

I can feel them in my brain now,
vacant motel in my gut, flooded
I couldn’t consume enough to
silence the deafening growling,
I can’t tell where it’s coming from,

I tried to starve my ego just in case,
turns out, it doesn’t take a feast
to have us feeling full, in fact
the food is just a facade

I can’t stop eating
anything that tastes like solidarity,
I can’t stop wandering desolate grocery stores
in search of a flavor only found in the
soft palate of a girl I kissed in high school

She doesn’t exist anymore
the sensation on my lips is just an
imagination figment, a fragment,
of a recipe long expired,

I’m not starving for my own
destruction anymore.
My mind would separate and
have me consume myself
down to bare bone, if it could,

Just so you could see
me for what I am,
a skeleton full of closets
coming out slowly,
patience running thinner,
says it’s time for dinner.

Caito Foster is a 26 year old multi-disciplinary artist working predominantly in photography collage and poetry. Caito is the founder and editor of Spit Poet Publishing and their flagship publication and SpitPoetZine, started in Denver Colorado in 2018.


This poem is from the Thought For Food anthology,
a poetry collection benefiting Denver Food Rescue.
You can purchase a copy of the book here.

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A Winter’s Night | Varinia Rodriguez

Art: Varinia Rodriguez

I have learned to walk on fire,
To drink fire,
To be fire.

Half goddess,
Half dragon.

I am Medusa,
Bruja,
Y santa.

Give me your eyes,
I will teach you to read skins.
Give me your hands,
I will teach you to pray in tongues.

The night we met,
The moon bowed down
To give us the stars.

I watched women
Drape themselves
Onto you.

A production
In the art
Of meat dangling.

But there was your stare—
Unwavering,
On me
In reverence and lust.

I put my claw to your skin.

There is a power when the flame burns white between us.
Where the unholy meet
And give us light.


Varinia Rodriguez once wrote a book about how Jellyfish Dreams were responsible for her own saving.  She is raw, intense, and lovely like a shot of whiskey on a cold day hitting like a cup of hot cocoa.  She is an alchemist, who works best with fire and the moon. Buy her book of poetry and photography off Punch Drunk Press.

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This poem is from the Thought For Food anthology,
a poetry collection benefiting Denver Food Rescue.
You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Thought For Food Promotional 1

Sunrise//Suicide | Adrienne Aragon

Aesthete is a creative platform and collection of works made by Adrienne Aragon. Adrienne is an artist, musician, model, and photographer based in Downtown Denver, Colorado. Her work draws inspiration from darkness, and balances beauty with haunting melancholy.

@Adrienne.Aragon, Artist and Creative Director www.AdrienneAragon.com 
@StoryTeller_Creative, Videographer
Filmed at The Black Monarch Hotel 

Hunger | Christopher Woods

Image: Mikhail Elfimov

Reading it for the third time, I am still amazed. Hungry, after midnight, in a hotel room in Galveston, I scan the room service menu in my lap. There, under the “Omelets” heading, it states that all are served with warm biscuits and yes, with mourning potatoes.

I am astounded. But I am also a realist and do not believe that biscuits will climb five floors and arrive still warm at my door. That they arrive at all is sufficient. Still, it distresses me to know that I have, for all this time, through all kinds of culinary weather, never known that some potatoes, by design or scheme or recipe, are meant only for mourning. I have eaten potatoes in all kinds of moods, even outside my homeland, and never, I think, funereally.

But I am also starving. I pick up the phone and call room service, order the potatoes without question, in an almost normal voice. Then, waiting in the dark, I hear waves crash against the seawall. The world is such an eerie place, I think, each day stranger than the one before.

Somewhere in the bowels of this hotel a room service cart is rolling this way, and for an instant I do not care if even death comes riding on it.


Christopher Woods is a writer and photographer who lives in Chappell Hill, Texas. His photographs can be seen in his gallery –http://christopherwoods.zenfolio.com/ . His photography prompt book for writers, FROM VISION TO TEXT, is forthcoming from PROPERTIUS PRESS. His novella, HEARTS IN THE DARK, is forthcoming from RUNNING WILD PRESS.


This poem is from the Thought For Food anthology,
a poetry collection benefiting Denver Food Rescue.
You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Thought For Food Promotional 1