Things you don’t say at the dinner table, which in my case growing up was anything. – Bruce Sterling

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Image: Federica Campanaro

I avoided speaking for fear of communication
or maybe humiliation.
I didn’t know how to talk
or specifically
to speak their language without reprisal.

Slipping up in our household was tantamount to losing
and losing was bad
and bad is how I felt
for much of my life.
See shame runs deep
in my family
which
coincidentally is quite a shame.


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Who is this Bruce Sterling character? Some call him philosopher, some call him dad. Nobody calls him a poet but that doesn’t stop him from crafting lines into something just about good enough to read. Without any formal training he seems to hold his own at the beloved Writer’s Block’s weekly writing events. He’s known to say, “Spending time with the poetry community is the only sane thing to do in this world. It fosters creativity, acceptance and huge amounts of love and frankly not much else matters.” Bruce is published in Spit Poet and Writer’s Block zines.

This poem is from our first print collection
of poetry,  “Thought For Food”, an anthology
benefiting Denver Food Rescue. To support
our fundraiser, please visit this link.

Thought For Food Promotional 1

I’m Not Ready For Curbside – Dennis Etzel, Jr.

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Image: The Visuals Project, Charles Deluvio

especially after the last time
our pizza was made by hand
sanitizer, but I believe in second
toppings & chances. I wear my mask
covered with butterflies & wonder
if the young man in the next car
chuckles at me for taking that chance
in nature-filled protection
while he has no fabric for his mouth.
I don’t want to speak for him
as a ventriloquist but I am uneasy
& worried out here in my sky
watching for birds & clouds
& the coming storm that may
or may not happen. Of course
this is me daydreaming
of last year where every surface
was immaculate as we drift
together in a winged migration
back inside. I have to admit
I have cash to pay with & can
include a nice tip as I also have time
to embrace this time. We all can
wait outside together as three birds
swoop in a motion many never do.
After the cashier hands me my pizzas
in their warm boxes, I can pause
one more time here searching
to remember when I offered change
or leftover food to anyone as a cardinal
stops for a discarded crust.


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Dennis Etzel Jr. lives in Topeka, Kansas with Carrie and the boys where he teaches English at Washburn University. His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others.

Submit | Poetry Anthology Raising Money for Denver Food Rescue

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Photo: Jonas Renner

SUBMISSIONS FOR THOUGHT FOR FOOD ARE CLOSED.

YOU CAN VISIT OUR FUNDRAISER FOR THOUGHT FOR FOOD HERE.

In these times of COVID-19 and social isolation, many people are out of work and lacking the resources necessary to even feed themselves.

South Broadway Press, the parent LLC of South Broadway Ghost Society, would like to help suppport local non-profit Denver Food Rescue by raising funds through an anthology of poetry entitled “Thought For Food”.

Denver Food Rescue

What Denver Food Rescue does:

We increase health equity with Denver neighborhoods by rescuing high-quality, fresh produce and perishable foods that would otherwise be thrown away by grocery stores, farmers markets, and produce distributors. With the help of our amazing volunteers, the food we rescue is delivered (often biked!) to Denver neighborhoods for direct distribution at No Cost Grocery Programs (NCGPs).  NCGPs are co-created with existing community organizations like schools, recreation centers, and nonprofits that are already established and trusted within the neighborhood, decreasing transportation barriers. Residents of the NCGP community lead the distribution of rescued food, and many also help with food rescue shifts. This participation decreases stigma of traditional food pantries, empowering each neighborhood to create a program that is appropriate for their culture & community.

“Food For Thought” will be an anthology featuring a single poem by each selected contributor. Copies of “Thought For Food” will be available to contributors for $6. They will sell to other folks for $15 each.

Poems can be on any theme. If you’d like to be prompted, consider writing on the theme of food, or on life in the face of a pandemic.

“Thought For Food” marks South Broadway Press’ first release.

Submissions for this project will close on May 11th of 2020.

We will accept previously published materials.

If you would like to submit please send an email to submissions@soboghoso.org with the following information:

Subject: THOUGHT FOR FOOD

  1. Your name.
  2. A brief 100-word-or-less bio.
  3. Up to three poems as a Word document or a Google Doc. We are not paying contributors for this project, but contributor copies will be available at a discounted rate of $6 each.

Please email us at submissions@soboghoso.org with any questions.

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Photo: Kristof Zerbe

 

For Your Peace of Mind — Alyssa Jordan

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photo by: Hadley Jin

She likes to pull out her pubic hair one at a time. She waits until a forest of spindly black vines has grown between her thighs, eagerly anticipating how strong each strand will be, how thick the roots will have become.

Little slivers of pain accompany the loss of each hair. She studies the water-encapsulated tip, the fibrous black strand. She would like to uproot other things. If she could, she’d start with all the people who have caused her pain.

Mostly, she’d like to uproot the people she hears about on the news, the ones who are sometimes women but usually men.

She likes to imagine her hand gripping a pair of tweezers, snapping the pincers open and shut—like a hungry alligator—before fitting the silver tongs around each of their heads, pulling them out at the root.

Each time she tweezes her pubic hair, the pain gets a little sharper. Her smile grows a little wider.

How nice it is, she thinks, to clear the debris.


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Alyssa Jordan is a writer living in the United States. She pens literary horoscopes for F(r)iction Series. Her stories can be found or are forthcoming in The Sunlight Press, X–R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Reflex Fiction, and more. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging out with her partner or watching too many movies. You can find her on Twitter @ajordan901and Instagram @ajordanwriter.

Body Sculpt: Suffer for Beauty – Addison Herron-Wheeler

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Photo: Viktor Talashuk

She went in wanting the standard procedure, about 50 percent less body fat, no more skin on the eyelids, just lashes fluttering from the skull, and a sculpting procedure to get rid of every wrinkle, dimple, cellulite ridge, and blemish.

The red on her cheeks was washed clean, the red spots on her breasts and thighs erased. Her hairlines was brought forward so her blond bangs dangled close to the long lashes.

She also opted for the stakes driven into her heels to improve her posture and keep her spine straight. The gossamer gown they had given her, which at first clung to her every crevice and curve like a hug, now hung loose over a stick-like frame. She thought she could feel her ribs growing.

Her blood was thinned, her saliva replaced with perfume. Her ears were made smaller; her nose was removed. They cut off the tips of her fingers to make them proportional to her feet.

When it was all done, she put on a black, velvet robe and looked in the mirror. “You have to suffer for beauty” she mouthed, her thin lips pursed, her skin glowing neon blue.

She felt her ribs heaving as though they wanted to escape her body. She smiled, batting her eyelids, feeling the velvet on her tight skin. “You have to suffer.”


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Addison Herron-Wheeler is editor of OUT FRONT Magazine, web editor of New Noise Magazine, and an avid sci-fi and metal nerd. Her first collection of fiction, Respirator, will be out in 2020 on Spaceboy Books

Diaries of a Lost Pregnancy – Amanda E.K.

 

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Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞

 

Diaries of a Lost Pregnancy

5.18.17

Yes, Doctor, I will take a pregnancy test. I’ve been nauseous since last Thursday.

I’m in pain. I’m three days late.

5.24.17

Pelvic ultrasound to try and figure out this pain. Still haven’t heard back from the doctor.

5.30.17

I bought a stick on my way home from work. Called doctor again and they still won’t release my results. This all feels a bit dystopian and surreal.

A little too Twin Peaks: The Return.

My pain is invalidated by the people who can help me.

I’ve been nauseous and I’m never nauseous and my boobs hurt as though gripped in a vice.

Oh kill this thing inside me if it does indeed exist! 

Drinking wine and eating Twinkies that I bought along with the store brand stick. 

My husband is out of the country. I’m scared and alone.

5.31.17 

6:30 am: 

The test is positive

11:59 pm:

I wonder if it would be a boy or a girl. I stretch my face in the mirror, imagining the combination of our features. Not that I want it. It’s only thought-play.

I don’t go to bed. I go for a walk after dark, to Observatory Park, walking in shadows, spinning on playground spinners, stumbling up a tree, swinging as high as I can go for as long as Radiohead’s “Ful Stop” plays on headphones.

I need to be higher, or lower, and since I don’t have any digging tools, up I go.

Sometimes the traffic outside my window sounds like music.

I scheduled an abortion outside an elementary school.

6.1.17

Started miscarrying during my preschool students’ graduation.

Started crying in front of the families, saying how much their children have meant to me. Several moms teared up and gave me hugs. 

My student Mariah asked me: Ms. Amanda, why are you crying? Me: I have a tummy ache. 

Crying after coming back from the bathroom, finding blood, not knowing what was happening to my body, my co-teacher asking if I’m okay and I shake my head, dissolve into tears.

I translated a message into Arabic for Elyas’s mom about how he’s been one of my favorite students and I’ll miss him. She teared up and hugged me and I felt such love for her. Translated a message into Spanish for Ricardo’s mom. I will miss the daily diversity of being a classroom teacher.

I will miss my beautiful little family.


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Amanda E.K. is the editor-in-chief of Denver’s Suspect Press. She’s also a writing instructor and a longstanding member of the Knife Brothers writing group. Her work has been featured on the Denver Orbit podcast and on Mortified Live. She has work in Suspect Press, Birdy, Jersey Devil Press, the 2018 Punch Drunk Press Poetry anthology, and Green Briar Review. She’s currently working on a memoir about her sexual development while growing up in evangelical purity culture, and she is co-writing a television series. FB: /AmandaEK  Twitter: @AmandaEKwriter  Insta: @amanda.ek.writer

Growl – Eden Axx

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You call me beautiful, cruel, tired, washed in red light, starved.
I am all of it, an aching stomach feeding off of its own lining.
My insides break down a little more with every step I take,
Towards you or away,
The loss of myself has nothing to do with you,
Despite your self-inflated groanings,
Protests of your worth to me.
I am waiting only for your inevitable decay,
All rot and words I never asked for out of a mouth I would eat clean off of your skull if given half the chance.
I am full of empty space you were never able to fill up,
But there is nothing I would not try to ease my insides growling
My stomach is a shattered gap
A thin mucous lining is the only distance protecting you from my acid
My thin body-shaped lining is the only distance protecting me from your criticism
I speak your skeleton thin language,
Or so you think, when you feed me bones,
Starved carcass of an animal you say you once loved.
I scoop handfuls of dirt down my throat,
Buried alive inside out
My gravestone teeth gnashing famished
I have never been full
Hungry stomach rumble is the drumline of my life, if it were beautiful. If it were a song.
I was never taught to be tame,
Leather wrapped ravenous
Rattle-boned desperation
My ribcage is made of zipties straining to break,
Every labored breath and ground clawed step is a victory
You see me, peckish hollow bone bird in a gilded cage by your desk,
But I am fever dream lullaby, snake in your garden while your eyes are closed, listening to the music
It’s a wish you’ve made to stars that burned out long before your birth
That you could be enough.
But you return to my room and find pinched thin  skinny.
You watch as I open my mouth and blood pours out, papercuts deep in my throat, shredded remains of all your love letters caught between my sharp stained teeth.
I know you see my open grave future in my sunken cheeks and light-lost eyes.
You kiss me, cracked lip craving in a room where the walls know only howling
There’s half a chance, here.
A lion doesn’t wait for prey when it emaciates
They aren’t deliberately cruel, lions.
But you called me beautiful,
And I waited for you.
I don’t know how to breathe when I eat.
I leave gasping.
I leave bloody, and still growling.
We both knew you could never sate me.


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Hey, I’m Eden. I like lizards and poetry and eating the flesh of politicians. Follow me on Instagram @edenaxx for completely unrelated content, by which I mean only selfies.

Bodies in a Recession — Matthew DeMarco

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photo by: Andrew Karn

Rain and night, Minneapolis,
us, and four suitcases.
Greyhound and a city bus.
Clipped roll in the night. A fade.

Looking west from a pink bedroom
full of linens for a guest,
my eyelids sagging, colored
red from liquor and cinnamon sticks.

If it was noble
to correct the market
the unemployed would be given medals,
and we’d wear them.

Thrum of an airplane overhead.
Recall its low-flying drone again,
and my fingers guide the wind around her flame.

We are lonely in this manmade valley.
Teens clang and hang like bats
from the half-dome batting cage behind our backs.

The water table underneath permeates
the sheds that shake beside the lakes.
This common source of poisoning
affects all things that drink from me.

Here’s a tip for the welfare line:
a note on letterhead from the mayor.

*pieces of this poem were originally published as “Track 16: Half Light II (No Celebration) by Arcade Fire.” in Opossum 


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Matthew DeMarco lives in Chicago. His work has appeared on Poets.org and in Ghost City Review, Landfill, Sporklet, Glass, and elsewhere. Poems that he wrote with Faizan Syed have appeared in Jet Fuel Review, Dogbird, and They Said, an anthology of collaborative writing from Black Lawrence Press. He tweets sporadically from @M_DeMarco_Words.

Temple of Christ – Amanda E.K.

 

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Photo by Bianca Berg

 

 

Temple of Christ

In the dressing room, pre-photoshoot, the others start to strip down and change into their costumes. I stand frozen, clothes in my arms that I planned to change into in the bathroom, but now that everyone’s changing out in the open I feel prudish for seeking privacy.

 

I’m taken back to middle school, high school locker rooms—to changing rooms at the pool, and to sleepovers where I was the only one who seemed to be anxious about showing my body. The only one who seemed to think that bodies weren’t for flaunting, or even for being comfortable letting other people see. 

 

I hear that old voice tell me: “This isn’t allowed for you, even if it’s allowed for others.” It’s the voice that tells me to lessen myself, to withdraw, to separate. (Be in the world, not of it.) It’s a childlike feeling, like when adults tell you to plug your ears and close your eyes because you’re not old enough to know what they know.

 

I was told my body was a temple of Christ, and though I’m no longer a Christian I’m alarmed to realize I still believe this. Not that my body belongs to Jesus like a temporary gift to take care of—but that it’s something to earn. I still believe the sight of my naked body must be earned. That I shouldn’t reveal it to just anyone, and that the people who do see me and touch me should feel privileged to do so.

 

Where is the line between vanity and self-respect?

 

The Church made me believe my body is nothing but sexual.

 

Standing in the corner of the room, awkward and quiet, I’m surprised and frustrated to realize I still have these inclinations toward body-shyness (especially since I spend most of my time at home in the nude). 

 

It feels wrong to see the other women’s naked breasts, their butts. I try not to look, but can’t avoid it. But for them it seems like nothing, completely natural. 

 

I think: Should I be just as comfortable? Is that really okay?

 

So I take off my shirt (facing the wall). I feel silly for my discomfort. (It’s no big deal, after all.) Maybe I’m worried I’ll be aroused, and that arousal is inappropriate. But it’s not that. It’s hard to reframe messages instilled when you are young. But now that I’m aware I can start.


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Amanda E.K. is the editor-in-chief of Denver’s Suspect Press. She’s also a writing instructor and a longstanding member of the Knife Brothers writing group. Her work has been featured on the Denver Orbit podcast and on Mortified Live. She has work in Suspect Press, Birdy, Jersey Devil Press, the 2018 Punch Drunk Press Poetry anthology, and Green Briar Review. She’s currently working on a memoir about her sexual development while growing up in evangelical purity culture, and she is co-writing a television series. FB: /AmandaEK  Twitter: @AmandaEKwriter  Insta: @amanda.ek.writer

Two Poems — Martina Reisz Newberry

bodyy

Into the Skid

for Alexis Rhone Fancher

The year I lost my virginity,
Marilyn Monroe took her own life.

She’d had it.
She didn’t want it anymore.

She didn’t care about John Glenn
orbiting the earth. She’d orbited

the earth lots of times
with champagne and Nembutal

waltzing elegantly in her magical body.
I cared about orbiting the earth

and figured losing my virginity
would be about the same thing.

We’d been to see “West Side Story”
and our shared grief at Tony’s demise

and Maria’s devastation took us
to the Los Cochinos Motel
(Hourly, Daily, Monthly Rates–Free T.V!).

There, in the aluminum light
of Gunsmoke’s dusty tribulations,

I unbuttoned my blouse,
he unbuttoned his jeans,

I unzipped my skirt,
he took off his socks,
I dug in my purse for a mint,
he dug in his pocket for a condom.

Stripping, I thought,
surely doesn’t take long.

The Beatles were on the radio,
sang “Love Me Do,” and that’s

what I was thinking as he tried
to figure out where to touch me

to unleash my passion. My passion
seemed to want to stay leashed.

The progression from there
is everyone’s story:

the French Kiss,
the hard, close embrace,
the tweaking and the tracing–

that unskilled first dance
that everyone knows.

It took 12 minutes; I counted them,
peering somewhat unsteadily

at my Timex watch–a graduation gift
from my parents. It kept good time.

I must confess, I was unimpressed.
He said, You’ll get to like it the more we do it.

When I told my roommate about it,
she said the whole sex thing was an

orchestrated hoax, laid on women
to keep them encumbered and enslaved.

She said that, during our lifetimes,
there might be a few encounters that would

produce momentary ecstasy, but, to stay sane,
I shouldn’t depend on that

The night we went to see “Dr. No,”
he started to drive in to Los Cochinos again.

I protested. I said, not this time. He said,
The more we do it, the better you’ll like it.

“We?” I thought, “Meaning you and me?
“We?” I thought, and dropped him like a hot rock.

 

White Italian*

When I nudged my IV Pole down the hallway,
I thought of myself as a snail.

The floors–slick and clean–warned me to venture
slowly and leave no trail–I was, after all,

so much lighter than usual and was somewzat
addicted to proving myself.

So, I walked, slowly, looking down at my feet,
wondering how a hospital stay

could take away my warm, soft, sexy feet
and leave these icy, wrinkled, bluelined feet
in their stead.

Then there was the dead end of the hallway,
right smack in front of me
a plane of choices:

go to the right, no go left, no, best to turn around
and go back to my room;

best to let the IV Pole know rest, let a warmed
blanket hide and hug my self.

Really quite ill says the doctor. Really ill for now,
but we’ll get you better.

The snail in me uncurls, straightens out on the bed.
The snail believes in getting better.

* Theba pisana, commonly named the White Garden Snail, is an edible species of medium-sized, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Helicidae, the typical snails. (Source: Wikipedia)


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Martina Reisz Newberry is the author of 6 books of poetry. Her  most recent book is BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY, available from Deerbrook Editions. She is the author of NEVER COMPLETELY AWAKE ( from Deerbrook Editions), and TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME (Unsolicited Press).  She is also the author of WHERE IT GOES (Deerbrook Editions). LEARNING BY ROTE (Deerbrook Editions) and RUNNING LIKE A WOMAN WITH HER HAIR ON FIRE: Collected Poems (Red Hen Press). She has been included in “The Sixty Four Best Poets of 2018” (Black Mountain Press/The Halcyone Magazine editorial staff). Newberry has been included in As It Ought to Be, Big Windows, Courtship of Winds, The Cenacle, Cog, Futures Trading, and many other literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. Her work is included in the anthologies Marin Poetry Center Anthology, Moontide Press Horror Anthology,  A Decade of Sundays: L.A.’s Second Sunday Poetry Series-The First Ten Years, In The Company Of Women, Blessed Are These Hands and Veils, and Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo Colony for the Arts, Djerassi Colony for the Arts, and Anderson Center for Disciplinary Arts. Passionate in her love for Los Angeles, Martina currently lives there with her husband, Brian, a Media Creative.