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!


 

 

#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

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

 

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

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.