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!


 

 

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


Image may contain: 1 person, tree, closeup and outdoor

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

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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

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.

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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

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.


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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.

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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

An Other Revolution – Yuan Changming

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Photo: Alp Ancel

As giant ants march ahead in nightly arrays
Demonstrating against the ruling humans
Along the main street of every major city
Hordes of hordes of vampires flood in, screaming
Aloud, riding on hyenas and
Octopuses, waving skeletons
In their hairy hands, whipping at old werewolves
Or all-eyed aliens standing by
With their blood-dripping tails

Gathering behind the masses are ghosts and spirits
Of all the dead, victims of fatal diseases
Murders, rapes, tortures, wars, starvation, plagues
Led by deformed devils and demons
As if in an uprising, to seek revenge
On every living victor in the human shape
Some smashing walls and fences, others
Barbecuing human hearts like inflated frogs
Still others biting at each other’s soul around black fires
All in a universal storm of ashes and blood

Up above in the sky is a red dragon flying by
With a heart infected by the human virus


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Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include  ten Pushcart nominations, Jodi Stutz Award in Poetry (2020) & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) & BestNewPoemsOnline, among others across 45 countries. 

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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 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