Heirloom Tomatoes

I’ve been spending a lot of time 
with the word unravel

I like the way my tongue 
tosses the syllables 

holds the spool tight 
on the roof of my mouth

flicks it into the universe 
off my bottom lip

my great-grandfather, Gilpin Red
was Colorado’s middleweight champion 

made a name for himself 
giving blokes a mean bottom lip

carried the shotgun suicide 
of his father in his fists

I think I carry it too
at least when opening a can of tomatoes
big hands run in the family 
red stained family heirlooms 

I reckon that was Grandpa's secret to peaches 
and my father’s excuse for his hands on me

a great-granduncle that killed women
a granduncle that killed childhood

abuse is just entropy 
in perpetual motion 

too many stars collapsing
under the weight of their own gravity 

the remnants of a big bang
like the one in Canyon City Cemetery 

in one hundred billion years from now
every one of them will blink out

in my lifetime it is predicted
heirloom tomatoes will go extinct 

Gilpin Red's gloves are still on display
fraying and begging to unravel 

I'm still learning who I am
still making amends with time 

still learning how to love these hands 
knowing they will end with me

Published by Caleb Ferganchick

Caleb Ferganchick is a rural, queer, slam poet activist and author of The Secret of Sunflowers (2021) and Poetry Heels (2018). His work has been featured and published by Western Colorado Writer’s Forum (2021), South Broadway Ghost Society (2020, 2021), “Slam Ur Ex ((the podcast))” (2020), and the Colorado Mesa University Literary Review. He organizes the annual Slamming Bricks poetry slam competition in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and serves as a board member for Western Colorado Writer’s Form and Mutual Aid Partners. A SUP river guide and speech and debate coach, Caleb also dreams of establishing a queer commune with a river otter rescue and falconry. He lives in Grand Junction, Colorado.

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