81 – Hilary Sideris

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Photo: Chris Zhang

She flaunts her pomegranate-
purple impulse-purchase mini-push
mower in her duplex backyard,
our mother of contradictions

from Depression-era Texas, women’s
libber, cheapskate even when it comes
to shoes, of which she has hundreds
of pairs. Why pay a man? Plus, here’s
a chance to show the shape she’s in

and get some sun. A younger, maybe
married neighbor suggests swinging
by on his John Deere. Tactical, tactful,

she declines. She knows the road
such favors lead a woman down.


Hilary Sideris has recently published poems in The American Journal of Poetry, Bellevue Literary Review, Free State Review, Gravel, The Lake, Main Street Rag, Rhino, Room, Salamander, and Southern Poetry Review. Her new book Animals in English, poems after Temple Grandin, is forthcoming from Dos Madres Press.

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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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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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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

 

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

Ars Poetica: Access – Cortney Collins

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Photo: Alice Donavan Rouse

An award-winning photojournalist once told me

anyone can learn to take a good photo.

It’s not technique.

It’s access.

Access:

to a riot breaking out on an angry street.

to a woman who has just lost her finger
climbing over a chain-link fence
crossing the border into Texas.

to the dusty rubble,
and everything beneath,
moments after a bomb
has incinerated a home.

to a sun-washed bedroom
where a seven year old child
has just died of cancer
in his mother & father’s arms.

Poetry is not just metaphor and meter,
allegory and alliteration.

Poetry is access:

to the secret hobbies of protozoans.

to the color of chlorophyll.

to the lover you secretly yearn for
but know will destroy you.

to enough magic to bring
your cat back from a velvet
bag of ashes embroidered
with his name.

A poem can only be

what it can access.


Cortney Collins is a poet living in Longmont, CO. A four-time winner of Fort Collins’ First Friday Poetry Slam at The Bean Cycle, her work has been published by South Broadway Ghost Society, Amethyst Review, Devil’s Party Press, Back Patio Press, 24hr Neon Mag, The Naropa Vagina Monologues Zine, and is forthcoming in Tiny Spoon Lit Mag. During these strange and surreal times, she hosts a weekly poetry virtual open mic, Zoem. She shares a home with her beloved cat, Pablo, and tries to eat just the right amount of kale.

 

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

Or for terror – André O. Hoilette

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Image: Kevin Gent

 

after Nicole Sealy’s “And”

morbid savior born
on the doorstep of a corporation

the poor, voracious,
gorge the forfeited thorns
of corrupt senators
opportunistic authoritarians they
savor disproportionate offshore fortunes
worship
incorruptible corpses
while gormandizing landlords orbit
our torn world

i am the disorder in my aborted
forty fourth form
orthodox corpus
my torso deteriorates at the crematorium
or by ordinary worms

elaborate airport territories
vacant expanses for corona
dictatorial
not for foreign territories or shores
commemorate our glorious world
commemorate our glorious world

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André O. Hoilette is a Jamaican born poet living in Denver.  He is a Cave Canem alum and former editor or ambulant: A Journal of Poetry & Art and Nexus magazine.  Hoilette is currently pursuing MFAs in Fiction and Poetry from Regis University.  He work has been published in Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander (A global anthology of social justice poetry) , Role Call, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Cave Canem 10 anniversary reader, milk magazine and other publications. 

Zombie Apocalypse – Gerry Sloan

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Image: Brian McGowen

Our grandchildren are in the vanguard
of human evolution, autism possibly
the latest mutation, since change
has one leg up on adaptation.
Trouble is, the microbes
mutate faster than we do
and have had more practice.
In the matter of intelligence they
have outguessed us more than once.
It will require our best to see this through.
The past two Halloweens
my autistic grandson has gone
trick-or-treating as a hazmat zombie,
as if he owned a crystal ball
for the coronavirus.
Maybe we should turn our welfare
over to children, who might be
more adaptable than
millionaires over seventy
masquerading as world leaders.

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Gerry Sloan is a poet and musician living in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has two poetry collections: Paper Lanterns (2011) and Crossings: A Memoir in Verse (2017), recent work appearing in Elder Mountain, Cave Region Review, Xavier Review, and Slant. He often defaults to hot tea and old movies for solace.

THIS IS A STORY ABOUT SETTING FIRE TO A GRAVEYARD – Patricia McCrystal

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Image: Paweł Czerwiński

Someone set fire to the graveyard this morning. It wasn’t like anything you’ve ever seen. I didn’t get emotional when I saw it, unlike the blue hairs who stopped their Buicks on the side of 44th, genuflecting and crying and clutching the crosses around their necks. I pulled my truck over and got out just as sirens started up out east. I expected it to smell bad, like maybe the bodies and coffins would start burning too, but it just smelled like a campfire. I loved that smell. Especially with ribbons of raw venison skewered over top, blood and fat dripping into the heart of the pit. A thermos of whiskey in one hand and your old man leaning back in the chair adjacent, rolling smokes slow and careful like he’s got all the time in the world.

The fire felt right. Like cleansing the clutter that’s grown so slowly you don’t even notice until you can see it in the corners of your eyes when you try to relax. I’m not saying I did it, or that I even know who did. I’m just saying it didn’t strike me as an evil deed. I wish it could have been that easy when we gutted dad’s house and piled everything on the lawn for the estate sale. Just haul out that saggy blue couch and old tube TV and rip up the baby puke carpet and douse it all with a healthy dose of Boy Scout water and light it up. Howdy, Mrs. Johnson! Come on out from behind those curtains and bring some marshmallows! Dad would have wanted it that way, I bet. 

Maybe an angel started the fire as a favor to the overused land. Fire brings up fresh grass and stronger trees. Maybe Michael the Archangel snuck down here with a can of lighter fluid. Maybe he knows that graveyards are a vanity that were never God’s wanting. Boy was that fire something. 

Whoever did it knew what they were doing. When firemen started spraying water all over, I considered how much gasoline it would have taken to make sure those flames burned as fast and hot as they did. We’ve had a wet spring, so it wouldn’t have been easy. Then again, whoever did it could have gotten creative and sided with the three S’s — sodium chlorate crystals, sugar, and sulfuric acid. I sniffed the air. It was hard to say.

An old woman put her hand on my shoulder and asked if I had a relative in the graveyard on account of me watching for so long. Yes, I told her. She waited for more. Then her wrinkled face puckered up like a dog’s asshole and she went back to crying and saying over and over again Lord have mercy. I wanted to tell her, he does. Look straight ahead.

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Patricia McCrystal is the recent recipient of the Slippery Elm Prose Prize and the founder of VIRAGO, a womxn’s writing circle. Her work can be found on PBS and in Heavy Feather Review, South Broadway Ghost Society, Birdy Magazine, and more. She’s pursuing her MFA in Fiction at Regis University.

I’m Not Ready For Curbside – Dennis Etzel, Jr.

blue bricks
Image: The Visuals Project, Charles Deluvio

especially after the last time
our pizza was made by hand
sanitizer, but I believe in second
toppings & chances. I wear my mask
covered with butterflies & wonder
if the young man in the next car
chuckles at me for taking that chance
in nature-filled protection
while he has no fabric for his mouth.
I don’t want to speak for him
as a ventriloquist but I am uneasy
& worried out here in my sky
watching for birds & clouds
& the coming storm that may
or may not happen. Of course
this is me daydreaming
of last year where every surface
was immaculate as we drift
together in a winged migration
back inside. I have to admit
I have cash to pay with & can
include a nice tip as I also have time
to embrace this time. We all can
wait outside together as three birds
swoop in a motion many never do.
After the cashier hands me my pizzas
in their warm boxes, I can pause
one more time here searching
to remember when I offered change
or leftover food to anyone as a cardinal
stops for a discarded crust.


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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.