Tomato Red – Sophie Cardin

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Photo: Daniele Levis Pelusi

 

give it to me tomato red
spread out like
flour all over the counter
cold on my back

mouths burning with
salsa and impulse

cover me with thyme
and brown sugar

dip your fingertips
in the spice jars and let me guess
what is what and which is which

I am gasping, caffeinated, like
the flame marked moka pot,
older than you, than I,
than us both together,
older than this dance, older

than the mothers, and their
pleasure, and their kitchens
filled with smells

leave me someplace warm
so I can rise, in the sun

want feasts on the body
like yeast, souring
as it chews through wheat

the basil is growing from seed
alongside salvaged potato eyes
which watch our backs

I cover everything in cilantro
but you soap-tongued screw
up your face at the taste of it
so I smear honey on my lips, and
bid you lick it off

I sink my hands, up to the elbow
into containers of rice and beans
fancying rain that won’t come till summer

cool like dried legumes and
fine like grains

I draw pictures
in the coffee grounds
spilt at breakfast

run hot water over my hands
until they are red and pink knuckled
wet and clean


Sophie Cardin is a second-year student studying political philosophy and nonviolent theory at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She was born and raised in Denver. Sophie fell in love with poetry during her early struggles with dyslexia. She is a regular at the Friday Night Poetry Open Mic at the Mercury Cafe and the author of Lust Poems For No One In Particular.

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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

FOR THE WANT OF YOU – Liza Sparks

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Photo: Alexis Fauvet

I am shaking for the want of you
I am sweating for the want of you
I am biting my bottom lip

I am casting spells for the want of you
I am planting seeds for the want of you
I am drinking love potions

I am sewing & mending for the want of you
I am writing heart songs for the want of you
I am kissing trees

I am dancing in meadows for the want of you
I am spinning silly for the want of you
I am howling at the moon

I am eating honey & dates so you’ll be sweet for me
I am lighting candles so you’ll burn for me
I am writing your name over & over again
I am sipping spirits to intoxicate you with me
I am tying strings together to connect you with me
I am tracing your name on my skin

I am chanting your name into my garden
I am whispering your name into the wind
I am drumming your name into the mountain
I am throwing coins into wells
I am making wishes on stars
I am praying to any amulet, any symbol, any god that will listen
all for the want of you


Liza Sparks (she/her/hers) is an intersectional feminist writer, poet, early childhood educator, and creative. She is a brown-multiracial-pansexual-woman living and writing in Colorado and is currently an editor for Dirt Media. Liza holds her BA in poetry from Colorado College and attended on an El Pomar Scholarship for leadership and civic engagement; she also holds an MA from Goddard College in community education (with a concentration in early childhood). Liza was a finalist for Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop Emerging Writer Fellowship in Poetry in 2020 and 2019; and was a semifinalist for Button Poetry’s Chapbook Contest in 2018. She has been published with Spit Poet Zine, South Broadway Ghost Society, Tiny Spoon, Stain’d Arts, Suspect Press, and Cosmonauts Avenue. You can find more of her work on Instagram @sparksliza534 or lizasparks.com.

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Photo Credit: Nick Velharticky @nvthepix

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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

 

Untitled Haiku – Iris Groot

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Image: Kupono Kuwamura

I wish I could say
I left you behind when I
drove across country

 


Iris Groot is a non-binary artist in Aurora. Driving from city to city for poetry. Meeting amazing and skilled artist. So they have created a Facebook group called poetry people where everyone comes together to share poetry.

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imageedit_3_3022794780

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

I had a wife and could not keep her – Rhienna Renèe Guedry

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Image: Kennet. William Morris, Morris & Co

When you ventured out on
dates with men, we didn’t talk about it
what was there to discuss? It was something you
thought I couldn’t give you
even though my arms were out and so was I
your whole deal was believing yourself to be
too broken to offer your chalice like the
gift of drink it was and not think of curses.
I was always onto you. I played the game—truth or dare,
poison or water, top or bottom— and followed the rules
our friends warned me to take it down a notch to
wait for you to call me for a change.
That’s the thing about the “I told you so’s”
we were as rare as hens’ teeth
ear to a glass against our thin apartment wall
you slipped the l-word in and out then took it
back like the slapping of a bug bite against your shoulder.
I cleared my throat—my heart was so far down it
made the grossest noise to call it back to the cavity where
it belonged ‘cos no one has ever loved you
without a list of reasons why they shouldn’t


Rhienna Renèe Guedry is a writer and artist who found her way to the Pacific Northwest, perhaps solely to get use of her vintage outerwear collection. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Empty Mirror, Bitch Magazine, Screen Door, Scalawag Magazine, Taking the Lane, and elsewhere on the internet. Find more about her projects at rhienna.com or @chouchoot on Twitter.

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Black Kitchen – Shane Allison

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The bacon sizzles in a silver pot on a spiral top that burns
To a tangerine orange beneath sweet cabbage.

Turn that stove down low, boy!

Collared greens unfurl to the size of elephant ears.
Let the water run rinsing them clean.

Hand me the knife from the drawer.

Get the strainer ready for rice.
Here are the scissors to cut the chittlins’.

They don’t smell as bad over rice,
Doused with hot sauce.

Seasoning salt is drizzled over
Honey- sweet ham.

It’s 6p.m. Time to make the cornbread.
Mama makes the wild berry kool-aid syrupy sweet.

Slices of Aunt Earline’s jelly cake
Lie like dominoes on a plate painted with porcelain roses.

Pork chops in a ceramic bowl
Sit sullenly next to store bought
Sweet potato pies.

I’m in my room writing poetry,
Waiting to sink teeth into chicken breast
While the Superfriends are on mute.

Yall can come on eat now!


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Fifteen years old was when Shane Allison wrote his first poem. Since then his poems have appeared in countless kick ass literary journals such as Chiron Review, West Wind Review, The Brooklyn Rail, and others. He is the author of four collections of poetry. His new collection Sweet Sweat is out from Hysterical Books. He is also the author of two novels. Harm Done and You’re the One That I Want. 

Love in the Time of Covid – Stina French

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Photo: Becky Mattson

Before you got laid off, you worked for Enterprise,
with no sick leave and no wage protection.

You said even the car rentals in Italy were open.
Your roommate feared you’d infect her.
You were the only one who had to leave for work.
You were the only person of color in your house.

You aren’t afraid to die, but, older than you, I am.
In Milan, lines of hearses haul coffins to cremation.
Their drivers can’t stay home, either:
hospitals have no more room to burn bodies.

During a virtual appointment one week into quarantine,
my doctor says a newly diagnosed thyroid disease
puts me in the at-risk group.
She says, don’t become inflamed.

I am putting out fires inside other fires,
but you keep your cool.
You’re out there somewhere,
listening to sunrise.
It feels like I had to shut the door
before you got inside.

We don’t know how long it will be this way.
Sometimes we walk the dog, 6-feet apart,
not holding hands or hugging.
We sleep real late;
we howl at eight;
we send video of ourselves cumming.
I make careful grocery lists,
ask for rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes.
You deliver.

I don’t touch anything you bring
until it’s wiped or sits three days,
but this morning,
my mouth knew your love
as a mango it didn’t ask for.


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Stina French writes mystery, magic-realism, flash memoir, and poetry.  She’s featured in many Colorado venues, and her work has appeared in Heavy Feather Review, Punch Drunk Press, and the podcast Witchcraftsy. She is scratching at the window of her body, writing poems like passwords to get back in.  To get forgived. To get at something like the truth. To get it to go down easy, or at all.  She wears welts from the Bible Belt, her mother’s eyes in the red fall.  She’s gone, hypergraphic.  Writes on mirrors, car windows, shower walls.  Buy her a drink or an expo marker. 

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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

#5 April 2020 – Ted Vaca

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Photo: Free To Use Sounds

 

for those that feel

for the mind can not
…………..touch

you

me

we hold each other so close
we squeeze
merge

break through the distance
back from the moon
circle around the globe

I sit next to you
you ask me if the canyon spirit
is going to die

we shelter in place
on a small bench
by the fountain
in Civic Center
surrounded by trees

“we have to rely
on ourselves
to keep it alive”
I say

the wind blows
people are howling
and their loneliness
and yearning
for all that they once held
burns through the dusk

you ask me if
i can feel it

“feel what” I ask

“the wild return”
you say

“of what”
I say

“of everything we ever loved
and never could tame”


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Ted Vaca Denver poet father lover crime fighter / semi holy somewhat sweet can be bitter / published here and there / Founder of The Mercury Cafe poetry slam / Coach of the 2006 Championship Denver Slam Team / Member of the 1995 Championship Slam Team from Asheville NC / Intergalactic Provocateur

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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

The Mechanics of Food Assistance in a Grocery Store Line – Dennis Etzel Jr.

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Photo: Peter Bond

what is taking so long? someone asks
with plastic card in hand
I will still hand over supplemental checks
like nails that board up a boat

I call them life savers out of need
even for these staples
while a scan and rescan of each item
ensures eligibility because even if WIC stickers

are misplaced on the shelves the register
has the final say and I am ready so ready
to turn around if someone gives me the drill
or again remarks it must be nice to get free food

I’ll iron out their words with my defenses
hey I’m a working professor and father
adding how I qualify as poor how my wife and I
were drilled at the food assistance office

hammered by every question
from someone who speaks in the tone
of a kindergarten teacher so my boys
will have food at the end of the month

unlike so many children in this town
even the retired chaplain who overheard
kids could get a free lunch
said why don’t they get a job


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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.

imageedit_3_3022794780

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

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.

imageedit_3_3022794780

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

 

My Mother’s Recipe – Jovan Mays & Mallary McHenry Jr.

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Photo: Emma Frances Logan

When we were young
we didn’t appreciate our mother’s cooking.
We would stare at the plate
willing broccoli to GO AWAY.
But today is different.

I remember hearing Cindy Lawrie
ask for the recipe of her favorite dish
& my mother explained
that she could not duplicate this.
This was my mother’s bread of sorrows.

I remember it.
She said,
“when makin’ sweet bread
we need a bowl the size of Birmingham.
Make sure it’s not segregated
I want everyone to feast.”

She would say,
“My butter was churned by hand.
Milked from my motherland.
Takin’ the same milk of my history,
diluting my people to livestock,
skimming off the backs of blacks
to build Antebellum houses
that made the South
want to rise again like cornbread.”

She wasn’t just a cook in that kitchen.
Full time doctor-alchemist-magician.
She could make that cream
cook, cleanse, & cure.

When friends asked her about margarine,
She laughed, said
“Margarine is made of pretty things”
40 acres & a mule,
equality, reparations,
straight hair, & freedom.
Things that just were not real.

So no!
She did not use margarine
She used butter
thick, unrelenting,
get-all-over-everything butter.
the kind you have to strain to bind.

Like sitting in the back of balconies & buses.
“Churn it”
Like having dry ice thrown at her
because she was a different type of sugar.
“Churn it more”

Sometimes she would have to take over for me.
Because I didn’t understand that she was erasing the past with
Every. Single. Agitation.
Wondering why she would tear up.
“You have to churn it, boy!”

‘Till the south is too suppressed to rise.
‘Till it’s white & entitled
like Bull Connor’s tank in an all-black neighborhood.
Like them shepherds k9’s sinking into our skin.

“Beat it!
So they can’t see the darkness in this meal.
Beat it!
Like a white hood just appeared in this room.
Let me show you how painful this is.”

& she refuses to forget,
because going through restaurant drive-thru windows
still feels like you’re going around the back.

& you wonder why you need water to wash this down.
Because if you didn’t, you would feel the countless
Butter-worth Jemimas climbing your esophagus
with wooden spoons & spatulas.

Wash it down
until your gut feels like a hull.
Bet you didn’t know that in the belly of your ship
there were grunts paddling your digestion
no wonder it’s called the Middle Passage.

To this day I wonder what kept her
cooking for friends like Cindy Lawrie.
What kept her from back handing them every time
they asked her “Alfreda what did you put in this?”
or “Mrs. McHenry” can I get that recipe?”

She would always say,
“Give thanks to God for all things”
The good & the bad.
Martin Luther King Jr. & James Earl Ray.
John Brown & Jim Crow.
Shining steeples & burnt crosses.

THIS
makes her flour.
It’s forgiveness.
Forgiveness isn’t big on measuring.
Forgiveness isn’t big on accuracy.
Just like my momma.

A pinch of salt here.
Like her father waiting
at Sears and Roebucks until
closing before whites would
let him buy clothes.

A sprinkle of sugar there.
Her remembering the day
she was allowed to enter a library
alongside white people.

In the spirit of Nat Turner, Emmet Till, 4 little girls.
Momma is whisking together gender & race.
Hopes & dreams.
The past to the present.

& the secret, she told us was,
“Son, just keep tasting
‘till you get the flavor you want.
Until, there are no more tears.
Just keep tasting
until the anger becomes harmonious.
Just keep tasting
until the sadness becomes savory.
Just. Keep. Tasting.”

But this isn’t store bought processed white bread.
THIS IS MY MOTHER’S BREAD OF SORROWS
& now Cindy Lawrie you can have this recipe.
But you still can’t make this dish


 

Mallary McHenry Jr. (Poet Without Apology) and Jovan Mays were members of  Denver’s Slam Nuba, a nationally ranked poetry slam team. Both have a mutual passion for poetry and helping those in need.  “My Mother’s Recipe” is a poem dedicated to Mrs. McHenry and all the women who grew up feeling the weight of Jim Crow. Their life experiences cooked into every meal and their recipes cannot be duplicated without understanding the struggles that made them

imageedit_3_3022794780

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