The Uncertainty of Our Futures | Caleb Ferganchick

Image: United States Geographical Survey

sweltering hour
beads of sweat lick
my sunburnt nape
paddle and soap dish in hand
off some nameless bank
I slip into the Colorado

the Grand
the Rio del Tizon 
the Maricopa 
the cool lifeforce 
of this southwest desert 
as easily as I do 
into freshly washed sheets 

naked 
embraced
sweet surrender 

(I’m still working
on surrender) 

the Colorado, he/they and I
have rinsed ourselves 
our bedrocks 
of many a lover 
many a male admirer 
like John Wesley Powell
like the first time
I skinny-dipped kissed
the first boy 
I thought I loved

I don’t find it outlandish
to suggest the Rio del Tizon
branded flaming by colonizers 
is a he/they gay 

reject the stubborn American West
its invasive cis-het
white male explorers 
naming monoliths [ego]
bodies of water [conquests]
assaulting the feminine [recreation]

if the Maricopa
is to be called she
let it be by reflection
by her own accord
as he/they is with me
on this board
cutting through this spectrum
an exercise and practice
of self-love at once 

we try and keep things caszh
this river and I
too thin to plow
too thick to drink *
if you know what I mean 

we both know
this flight of fancy is seasonal 
an afternoon delight 
a summer fling
sure to wash out 

around this bend 
I look for coupling trout
whose rippled darts 
fleeing my invasion of their coitus 
promise the end 
of my own courtship 

I have always struggled 
with commitment 
even when I cannot tell us apart 
submerged in him/them completely 
there is peace I won’t grant myself 

as surely as my head
will break the surface 
I will eddy out 
return home to routine
to khakis and button-ups 
to commutes and spreadsheets
and plastic promotions  

he/they/I/we will be 
just another commodity 
to bottle
given back empty 
at a cost
as potential 
for tourist development 
as a force that’s agreeable 
when diverted 
and funneled, reshaped
into productive 
efficient pools of labor

into anything 
that’s not wild 
and free and roaring 
to California 
to an ocean of love 
that doesn’t know the meaning 
of binaries and borders 

the nature of our familiarity 
our temporal sojourn
privy only to that 
voyeuristic heron
our downy stilt-
legged fortune 
is not about the permanence
of our gender but

the uncertainty of our futures

* commonly attributed to Mark Twain (to “the Mormons” by Edward Abbey) but unconfirmed by this author 



Caleb Ferganchick is a rural queer, slam poet activist, and author of Poetry Heels (2018). His work has been featured and published by the South Broadway Ghost Society (2020), Slam Ur Ex ((the podcast)) (2020), and the Colorado Mesa University Literary Review. He organizes the annual Slamming Bricks poetry slam competition in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and coaches high school speech and debate. An aspiring professional SUP surfer, he also dreams of establishing a queer commune with a river otter rescue and falconry. He lives in Grand Junction, Colorado.
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Bacon – Caleb Ferganchick

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It is 6AM on a Monday
and I am standing in the kitchen preparing breakfast.
On any other Monday I would have recognized this obscurity
as the manic episode it is, pop a hydroxyzine
to ease the crushing anxiety of false optimism
washing over me like the covers I’d pull back
over my body until the doctor could see me again.
I’ve learned my emotions are like Mondays,
tidal waves that roll over me with a force I cannot control,
and I don’t know if its these smoker’s lungs
or a lifetime of coping mechanisms that never keep me afloat,
but swimming is an exercise
that has always resulted in drowning.

But on this particular Monday,
Love slinks out of the bedroom.

Love slinks out of the bedroom with the audacity to be perfect,
with tousled hair and sleep clinging to his eyes
that makes me fear perhaps I grasped too tightly in the night,
clasped on to his body like a buoy in the harbor
former sailors have mistaken for their sanctuary,
intending to restore their masts on the days when sunshine implores me
to be the band-aid on the world’s sails, only to hoist them up
in the gale of my storm ridden seas in search of calmer waters.

I am worried that if I share these things with Love
my words will flash like beams of light permeating
from some rocky outpost, imploring him to heed the warning
of ships drowned by waves that rose with no warning.

But Love’s smile breaks the shivering dawn
and he plants a weary kiss on my lips as if to say,
“Let’s be castaways together.”

I think that maybe, on this particular Monday,
it’s very possible Love and mania are the same.
I think that maybe, instead of medicating Love,
I want to cook him breakfast.

I think so what if I rarely have the resolve
to care for my own body, so what
if my queer is not culinary inclined?

I remember how it struck me suddenly
that he was a sunflower suspended
on an endless seascape horizon,
and what is a poet’s lot in life
save to nurture flowers?

Somewhere between the rich soil of black coffee beans
and the scramble of whipping eggs
I manage to burn the bacon.

The lighthouse is now a smoke alarm.

The ocean an iron skillet.

Monday is a Monday.

It is 6AM.

But Love,
Love eats the bacon anyway


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Caleb Ferganchick is a queer slam poet residing in Grand Junction, CO. He is the self-published author of “Poetry Heels.” His work gravitates toward gender and sexuality expression, LGBTQI+ liberation, trauma, and mental health, though he is currently exploring nature writing inspired by rural Western Colorado through a children’s book series. Ferganchick hosts an annual poetry slam competition in Grand Junction, “Slamming Bricks,” during Colorado West Pride’s Festival in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. When he is not writing, Ferganchick works for a non-profit organization dedicated to ending youth homelessness, and as a high school speech and debate coach.

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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