Word Counts | Samantha Steiner

Image: Simon Pelegrini

Fuck word counts, and fuck regret, and fuck enjoyment, and guess what? Fuck origin. That’s right, fuck origin, and fuck memory. Do you know what fuck means? A girl told me back in middle school: Fornication Under Consent of the King. She said the word was posted on the front door of every reputable home, and that it meant yes, we got the okay from our royal leader to mate, copulate, dance the horizontal polka, put the thing in the other thing. We’re sinners with a lifetime indulgence we bought in advance. We fraternize with the devil, but only according to protocol, baby.

So I say fuck word counts, and fuck regret, and fuck enjoyment, because that’s what fuck is. Fuck is enjoyment. Fuck is regret. The Fuck Word Counts. Fuck is the apology before the infraction, the permission before the play. And who is fuck for? Fuck is for the people who look like Matt Damon and Marilyn Monroe, for bodies concealed just well enough to display. Fuck is for paleness and paler-than-paleness, a certain shape of eye, a certain girth of waist, a certain functionality of limb, a certain history of genitalia. And I say fuck that.

I say fuck origin, and fuck memory, and fuck death, because fuck is a gift, and Fornication Under Consent of the King is Matt Damon in a red velvet hat and a red velvet cape, a walking blood-filled penis with a golden wand, pretending to give out fucks when in reality, he doesn’t give a fuck. I say fuck origin because fuck is origin, because before you and I were you and I, we were twinkles in the eyes of people, maybe lusty, maybe frightened, maybe willing, maybe not. I say fuck memory because fuck is memory, because no one was watching when you or I morphed from a twinkle in those eyes to a glob of cells, as the glob of cells halved and doubled into the tube that formed a mouth and an asshole, two instruments of fucking, consent of the king or not.

Fuck is one person. Fuck is two. Fuck is three. Fuck is more. Fuck is rapid addition. Fuck is no gender. Fuck is all genders. Fuck is silent. Fuck is loud. Fuck is ordinary. Fuck is occasion. Fuck is insult. Fuck is compliment. Fuck is monetized. Fuck is freely given. Fuck is hot. Fuck is cold. Fuck is chafed skin, hidden liquid, violation, ceremony. The Fuck Word counts.

Samantha Steiner is a Fulbright Scholar and two-time Best of the Net nominee. Her 2019 essay “To the Current Tenant” appears in the print anthology Coffin Bell 2.2, and other works are published or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Apple Valley Review, and The Citron Review. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.

Problem Child | Jesse Lee Pacheco + Lillie Fischer

Lillie Fischer is a storyteller and director. Her work explores loss, honesty, our relationship with the earth and how to reach out to our inner child. Currently she is prepping for several experimental short films on an artist commune in Northern Colorado with her husband and dog. @lilliefischer

Jesse Lee Pacheco is a Performance Artist from Denver, Colorado. Life is wonderful. Life should be positive. When it’s blown to pieces, that’s when it becomes art. @jesselee_sent_ya

Pretzels | Danny Mazur

image: jose aljovin

Every night before bed
I would wander into my Dad’s kingdom
Laying on his king-sized bed
With a book and pretzels scattered across his hairy chest
His trusted steeds (10 lb. twin toy poodles)
Intently waited for treats
A low static from AM talk radio filled the room
He removed suit and tie
Donning blue converse shorts, no shirt

I remember the way his toes would wiggle
How he would tell me what he was reading about
How crumbs would fall from his lips
As he laughed at his own jokes

My mind was much quieter then
No concerns of burning forests or abused children
I wasn’t stressed
By the weight of earning paychecks and paying off loans
I didn’t find myself overwhelmed
How my dreams often feel like the Amazon River
7 miles wide
And I’m on the bank
I can’t swim and my boat is on the other side

On good days,
I’ll remember the world isn’t about me
That dreams come and go
That I live with my best friend
In some sort of Earth fort
That I get to walk to work
And spend my days with kids

And when the night comes
I lay in my bed and give thanks to tired legs
I open a comic book and my toes begin to wiggle
It’s in these moments
I find my hairy chest full of pretzels

Danny Mazur’s fascination with the human experience led him to founding Soul Stories, an organization that facilitates conversations for personal healing and social change. Over the past six years, Danny has produced and facilitated over 100 Soul Stories events in the Denver community, ranging from community dialogs to live performances. Danny collaborates with members of the Denver community to create events that unpack challenging topics such as consent, personal identity, relationships, race, and even the political divide of 2020. Soul Stories events are unique spaces where people go to practice authenticity and find connection. 

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

None Of That | Anna Leahy

Image: Elia Pellegrini

A friend, a fellow poet, announces
that he will someday open a restaurant
called None Of That,
wanting customers to say
Oh, I’ll have none of that,
and by that, he means cheese!

What confidence!
I see now, only years later,
its acronym: NOT.
I am jealous of his utter disdain.
I am jealous of his unwavering voice.
What would I not serve?
What would I not allow on my menu?

All I can think is beets,
but who likes beets?
They would not be missed.
No, I long to loathe
what others likely love,
and to be okay with that loathing.
But I am poor at decisions.
Insouciance is an illusion.

I desire to deny others
based on my own predilections,
the strength of my convictions,
whether right or wrong,
but I find myself lacking,
full of wishy-washy sympathy.
Though I don’t much like—what?
what is it?—mint! trigger of my migraines,
I see how others might.
I have seen the thick tongue licking
mint-chocolate-chip from a cone,
have heard talk of julep, a spoonful of sugar
to help the medicine go down.

This friend will not stop.
He claims that his second restaurant will be called
None of That Either.
He has more, more than I can muster.
I try harder to think of something, the thing.
But all I want to keep from others
is what I most want for myself
because there might not be enough
to go around.

Anna Leahy is the author of the nonfiction book Tumor and the poetry collections Aperture and Constituents of Matter. Her work has appeared at Aeon, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, The Southern Review, and elsewhere, and her essays have won top awards from the Los Angeles Review, Ninth Letter, and Dogwood. She directs the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chapman University, where she edits the international Tab Journal. See more at www.amleahy.com.

YUM | Caito Foster

Image: Sabina Music Rich

I couldn’t eat enough to fill myself,
an insatiable void,
and so I go hungry instead
to conserve resources
for the people I love

I’m not hungry anymore
I’ve got no more appetite for
my own suffering today,
I’ve got no tolerance
for the hunger pains,

I can feel them in my brain now,
vacant motel in my gut, flooded
I couldn’t consume enough to
silence the deafening growling,
I can’t tell where it’s coming from,

I tried to starve my ego just in case,
turns out, it doesn’t take a feast
to have us feeling full, in fact
the food is just a facade

I can’t stop eating
anything that tastes like solidarity,
I can’t stop wandering desolate grocery stores
in search of a flavor only found in the
soft palate of a girl I kissed in high school

She doesn’t exist anymore
the sensation on my lips is just an
imagination figment, a fragment,
of a recipe long expired,

I’m not starving for my own
destruction anymore.
My mind would separate and
have me consume myself
down to bare bone, if it could,

Just so you could see
me for what I am,
a skeleton full of closets
coming out slowly,
patience running thinner,
says it’s time for dinner.

Caito Foster is a 26 year old multi-disciplinary artist working predominantly in photography collage and poetry. Caito is the founder and editor of Spit Poet Publishing and their flagship publication and SpitPoetZine, started in Denver Colorado in 2018.

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

Sunrise//Suicide | Adrienne Aragon

Aesthete is a creative platform and collection of works made by Adrienne Aragon. Adrienne is an artist, musician, model, and photographer based in Downtown Denver, Colorado. Her work draws inspiration from darkness, and balances beauty with haunting melancholy.

@Adrienne.Aragon, Artist and Creative Director www.AdrienneAragon.com 
@StoryTeller_Creative, Videographer
Filmed at The Black Monarch Hotel 

Hunger | Christopher Woods

Image: Mikhail Elfimov

Reading it for the third time, I am still amazed. Hungry, after midnight, in a hotel room in Galveston, I scan the room service menu in my lap. There, under the “Omelets” heading, it states that all are served with warm biscuits and yes, with mourning potatoes.

I am astounded. But I am also a realist and do not believe that biscuits will climb five floors and arrive still warm at my door. That they arrive at all is sufficient. Still, it distresses me to know that I have, for all this time, through all kinds of culinary weather, never known that some potatoes, by design or scheme or recipe, are meant only for mourning. I have eaten potatoes in all kinds of moods, even outside my homeland, and never, I think, funereally.

But I am also starving. I pick up the phone and call room service, order the potatoes without question, in an almost normal voice. Then, waiting in the dark, I hear waves crash against the seawall. The world is such an eerie place, I think, each day stranger than the one before.

Somewhere in the bowels of this hotel a room service cart is rolling this way, and for an instant I do not care if even death comes riding on it.

Christopher Woods is a writer and photographer who lives in Chappell Hill, Texas. His photographs can be seen in his gallery –http://christopherwoods.zenfolio.com/ . His photography prompt book for writers, FROM VISION TO TEXT, is forthcoming from PROPERTIUS PRESS. His novella, HEARTS IN THE DARK, is forthcoming from RUNNING WILD PRESS.

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

The Kind of Diner – Samantha Steiner

Image: Ricky Singh

The kind of diner where the benches are turquoise vinyl, where the tables are edged in steel and there’s a tin full of half-used crayons by the register. Maybe there’s a jukebox. Maybe the jukebox actually works. Maybe it swallows your nickel.

The kind of bagel shop where half the walls are exposed brick and the other half are glass, where all the furniture was bought at an estate sale. Orders are handwritten on a notepad with a ballpoint pen and strung on the laundry line that spans the counter. There is no bathroom. Even the employees have to duck into the office building across the street on their lunch breaks.

The kind of bakery where the ceiling tiles can be poked out of place with a broom handle, where the chairs and tables are white wire. Help yourself to a pair of tongs, a serving tray. A cashier will give you more napkins than you could possibly need, and you will surprise yourself when you use them all.

The kind of cafe where there’s a corkboard. Someone needs a babysitter. Someone teaches guitar. Someone is selling a used croquet set. Each flyer ends in a fringe of phone numbers. You reach for that fringe and your wallet tumbles from your pocket. Someone picks it up and hands it back to you.

The kind of New York where you still live, though you don’t eat out much anymore.

Samantha Steiner is a Fulbright Scholar and two-time Best of the Net nominee. Her 2019 essay “To the Current Tenant” appears in the print anthology Coffin Bell 2.2, and other works are published or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Apple Valley Review, and The Citron Review. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.

Vested Cognizance, Dealt – Laura Carter

She was dealt a war. She was dealt a civil war.
She was dealt a rooftop only rain knows.
She was dealt crimson and pronomial sea.
………….There was nothing but brackish there.
Do you want to be held? Do you want to be held apart from
………….a working world, or a willing world?
Were you built by a window?
Were you built by a window where spires were first?
Did you ever find that you needed your neediness there?
………….Did you?
Were you built from a first Palatine knowing?
And how? When you first delighted in yourself, did you think about the others soon there?
………….Did you heat up a tenement of souls?
What did she first find? A new house?
Was a house built of beauty, or was a house cut down?
………….Which one were you? Possible?
Were you built from a window, where there was nothing?
………….Are you she who was dealt a civil war?
Are you she who was dealt a retrieval?

Laura Carter lives in metro Atlanta, GA, where she finished her MFA many moons ago. She has since then published many poems in individual form and also a handful of chapbooks. She continues to teach writing classes to undergraduates.

Bread in the air – Ashley Howell Bunn

Photo: José Pablo Iglesias

the greatest thing about dishes in the sink is that we have dishes and we have a sink and that I get to wash them when they get crusty and I hate that but there was food enough to be left behind and fungus enough in the air to make the dough rise and that you ate it with butter just like a victorian orphan and we laughed and then all played cards at the table and the greatest thing about the hole in the wall is that it is there and my hand made it and that there was emotion enough to propel it forward and that we are still here in this house and art sometimes covers the hole and sometimes it doesn’t and one time you put your little shoe in the hole never to be seen again and I laughed and I found some old shoes to put on your feet and the greatest thing about that moment is that you have shoes and you have feet

Ashley Howell Bunn is pursuing her MFA in poetry through Regis University where she is also a graduate writing consultant. She reads and helps develop community engagement for the literary journal Inverted Syntax. Her work has previously appeared in The Colorado Sun, the series Head Room Sessions, and others. When she isn’t writing, she teaches and practices yoga and runs a small personal business centered around healing. She lives in Denver, CO with her partner and child.

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