#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

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

Alphabet Soup – Nate Ragolia

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Image: Kon Karampelas

Buried corn spilt milk
What good is a food system
when it doesn’t feed?

Can you believe it? We’re actually throwing away tens of millions of pounds of fresh vegetables, fruits? We’re doing it because “it can’t be moved” and “nothing is EVER free.” But couldn’t we make some Alphabet Soup? Job the jobless, move the food, set a new goal that if we have so much that we’d trash it we’d be smarter and kinder and truer to Greatness by finding every open mouth and grumbling gut and filling them with sustenance—if rarely meaning, here—because there’d be at least one bold checkmark in the WIN column? Think of the Ratings! MILLIONS RE-EMPLOYED TO DO SOMETHING PURPOSEFUL, MILLIONS MORE NOT STARVING IN THE CORNERS AND NOOKS OF OUR PREPOSTEROUS OPULENCE.

Oh, The Supply Chain!
Chickens dead, landfills filling
Waste not? Want! Always.


nate & rocket

Nate Ragolia is Co-Founder of Spaceboy Books LLC., a Denver-based indie sci-fi press. He’s also Editor-in-Chief of BONED: A Collection of Skeletal Writings. His two books, There You Feel Free and The Retroactivist express his ongoing frustrations with economic systems designed to leave people behind. And he’s hopeful that things can still be changed for the better in his lifetime.

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

How the Sunflower Practices a Distancing – Maria S. Picone

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Photo: Mona Eendra

Fortifying her core, she sips a poverty of water,
muting the fresh-corn brilliance of her body
with white curtains. She awaits a joy bobbin
to hover at her concentric breast. She knows
a scarred Saturday implies renewal.
Instincts tell her: wait, respire, listen.
Turning her face skyward, she takes
her mother’s gifts: rain, the hum of bees.


Picone Headshot

Maria S. Picone has an MFA from Goddard College. She’s interested in cultural issues, identity, and memory. As a Korean adoptee in an Italian American family and a New Englander, her obsessions with noodles, seafood, and the ocean are hardly her fault. Her poetry appears in Homestead Review, Ariel Chart, Headline Poetry, Mineral Lit Mag, and Route 7 Review. Her Twitter is @mspicone, and her website is mariaspicone.com.

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

The Alley Poets – Chelsea Cook

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Photo: Joshua Hoehne

Let me show you

Where the poets live.

They gather in an alley, at midnight, under the full moon,

To read dirty haiku and make a ruckus in the streets.

 

Rebels!

But they are caring rebels.

 

Tonight, I found the alley poets

And took a dose of love.

How are you feeling? they ask.

Good, I say.

(Good is always the right answer, the work answer.)

No, tell us how you really feel.

Depressed.

That’s better, because it’s honest. Now come here:

“Every day, we’ll show you a moment so golden you must close your eyes to see it.”

I must stick around for that day.

 

Why is death such a theme in poetry?

Why does the depressed mind latch onto it,

Instead of the beauty in the words, the rhymes, the repetition?

Why is it so easy for pain to enter,

For negative feelings to take root like weeds,

For the analytical mind to try and rationalize the irrational?

 

The alley poets tell me a ghost story:

About the monster “that which follows”!

Stalking the cities, the towns, the towers

For those souls whose hearts have turned to stone.

It is insatiable, all-consuming, leaving destruction in its wake.

But they also tell me:

“That which follows” hates fire, warmth, light, love.

 

So, the alley poets light a campfire.

We sing and dance and read,

Keeping the darkness at bay.

Not to sound cliché

But the poems they recite,

Are the stars between the clouds at night.

 

They hug me tightly as I take my leave,

Encouraging: I must carry the ember until the next time

The community comes together.

The upbeat music starts to play,

Because…”that which follows” has no chance

Against the alley poets!


 

Chelsea Cook grew up on the coast of Virginia, but now calls the mountains of Colorado home. She has been writing poetry since high school, and has been active in the Boulder open mic scene. She is currently finishing the draft of her first novel.

 

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 Return – Melissa Ferrer

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Photo: Bogomil Mihaylov

The first nine months
Of our life
Was spent
In quarantine
Nurtured by the wisdom
Of our mother’s mothers
Nutrified by the Earth
Suckling
As one being in body
Organic
In nature.
Symbiotic
Symbol of continuation.

Why
Have we not returned
Awareness to the womb
In these times
Seek the divine dark
From which the spark of life
Was bourne?

Why
Have we not sought
The wisdom of those who came
Before separation
Before degradation
And desecration of mind
And spirit?

Why
Have we not embraced
The girth of the earth
Beneath our feet?
Learn of what this bigness
Be. Hear what the bees
Buzz; news
Of the Ancient Ascent
And the absence
Of each.

Noise.
Uttered in tongue
And misidentified meaning
Ideological demons
Occupying the homes
Turned house–
The bodies
Turned louse–
Parasitic
Prophet of death
And termination
Living in the fauna
Of our mouths.

Hands balled into fists
Tightness taught us
To savor our anger
As a way to resist
The falling dominoes
And kingdoms
Devoid of glory and
fortified, sanctified
Foundation
Tumbling– remains
Creating another story–
Debris, and crumbs
Of those numbed
Translated as the way
To salvation.
And thus, the birth of this new nation.

Always and always
More and more
Preaching the gospel of lonely
And fragmentation
Disintegration of awareness
Assimilation of fear
Abandonment of what is
In search of what was never there—
Perfection in the flesh
Salvation in what we can hold
What we can mold
From our dastardly desires—
…………..A kingdom foretold
…………..Whose fall approaches.

In the wombs of our rooms
Let us croon ourselves into
Gestation
Into carry
Into hold
Let us sing, sing, sing
Lullabies of light light light
And drift,        drift,                     drift
into the silence of the Darkness
That brought us to be

Behind every word that we speak
Let us abandon every pit-
……………………………………………ting against

Form us into I
Into one
Into yo soy
Io sono
Je suis

Daughter and Son
Husband and Wife
Mother and Father
Sister and Brother
man/woman
Divinity made flesh
Masculine-Feminine
Oneness in our chest
And from this cavity
…………………………………..—this hollow—
That breathes
Blood and remembrance
Let us grow our seeds.


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Melissa Ferrer is a renegade with hippie tendencies.  Through poetry she seeks to provide a sense of solidarity to all people, encourage people to act unto peace and love, and foster community among both the like and unlike minded. Recently, she’s been yearning to set down her ego and replace it with a jubilation of the spirit. She wants you to join in, in whatever capacity you can.

 

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

Pomegranate Blues – Brett Randell

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Image: Steve Johnson

grape grape
apple apple
pomegranate blues
smokin’ in the alleyway
moonlit dancin’ shoes

mint mint
lemon lemon
garlic ginger waltz
old man in the dining hall
says it’s not his fault

citrus citrus
honey honey
echinacea poem
cursed if you go out to play
blessed if you stay home

lime lime
dandelion
stingin’ nettle song
bright eyed baby lookin’ up
wonderin’ what went wrong

Pomegranates | ClipArt ETC


Open Dialogue _ Bri Headshot 2
Photo Credit: Bri Erger, Open Dialogue Project

Brett Randell is a writer and musician who loves to play in regular venues, on rooftops, at yoga festivals, in bars, living rooms, and beyond. He is currently working on a novel while part of The Book Project at The Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop. Brett’s writing has appeared in Stain’d Magazine, Interkors, and The Blue Lake Review.

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