God is love.
hollow words fall on wet
grass tongues. I am July drought. I am
cracking skin under last row heat. palms up
blood under wrists, blue trees that turn red
before dawn. how do bodies grow, hair on
knuckles and strokes on thighs? my stomach
growls. my insides sit packed with the places
I have been. places where dark organ meats
meet regret meet self-loathing
meet coughs from cigarettes and too
many nights on the porch, bleeding
into a glass of wine. this body is full
and old and I wonder what’s outside of it.
I wonder what’s inside of it


full gusts I swallow at dawn
when I’m up and the city is cold in my lungs.
heartbeats, enough life for the pair of us,
sitting silent while the pain rests in our laps.
it spreads across knees, covers the way skin
does. deep the way guilt goes. prayers like
a commute driving bumper to bumper
home, but the sunset, my God

the buildings, the way they wink like
that. metal hips glowing
with a peace I want to hold.

God is love.
see! I am too.

By Cate LeBrun


Cate LeBrun is a writer and special education teacher from Pasco, Washington. She enjoys the hell out of dad jokes, kindness, and the view of Mt. Rainier on a sunny day. Her work has been published in Words Dance Magazine, Gonzaga University’s Reflection, and on her mom’s refrigerator. You can find her at caterosewrites.tumblr.com, along with poetry and prose surrounding the issues of addiction, recovery, and the beauty in this gorgeous, broken world.

an attempt at goodbye By Erin Taylor

an attempt at goodbye

how do i stop feeling heavy for people who never felt heavy for me
i wish that my love for you were a forest i could chop down
i do not promote cutting down trees, but i need a permanent solution
to you in my life | i need to find a context for you in my life
that isn’t me loving you desperately, that isn’t me flying ten thousand
miles to see, you batting an eyelash in my direction, me losing
myself in the idea of you possibly being in love with me even a
quarter that I loved you. | i need to find a way to be soft & kind
to myself in the same way i am soft & kind to people over the
internet. i need to stop allowing sad boys to drain me of my magic,
southern hemisphere boys to drain me of my magic, i need to
touch myself like a lover & love myself like my very best friend but
instead i have been reaching for the soft of your back & loving you
like a garden that i grow flowers in. i need to appreciate myself
like i have appreciated Jackson Pollock on two continents
but i cannot see myself as art & i cannot see you as anything

By Erin Taylor


Erin Taylor is a Tulsa based writer who is always somewhere else. She has a chapbook of poetry OOOO (Bottlecap Press) and a forthcoming micro chap you look tired (Ghost City Press 2016). Her work has appeared recently at Alien She Zine, Metatron, Potluck Mag, Moloko House, and others. She blogs at amarettoandslayin.tumblr.com and tweets @erinisaway.

my mother won’t like that I’m writing this poem By Chelsea Houston

my mother won’t like that I’m writing this poem

my mother believes in God.
her faith is a part of her, entwined deep in blood and veins.
so quiet and unassuming that I didn’t know it was there
until I asked.
my mother sees God in the eyes of my father, sister and myself.
she taught me that God is love and forgiveness,
forgetting that she is holy for the same reasons.
she believes.
my mother won’t like that I’m writing this poem.

this has the potential to tear me apart.
I am afraid to be open about this.
if I expose all of this unknowing, it will pour out as blood.

if you can hear me God, please make sure that it is only mine.
so much blood has already fallen.
please, do not add hers to the list.

you stretched your womb for me,
became the first ocean that I ever swam in.
people say that we are two halves of one whole.
somewhere in my body, there remains an echo of you.
a room graffitied with your handwriting, the scent of fresh vanilla.
I love you more than I will ever worship any God.

I am so sorry.
I am scared.
this rebellion has been growing within me for too long.
I thought that faith was supposed to be an anchor
to hold you when the waves are rough
the light behind one’s eyelids when they are closed
the sounds you make when you laugh.
instead, it’s turning into war and burning.
it’s razing my insides.
colonizing my heart with pain.
the roof above my soul is open to the wrath of whatever is above me.

please, just let me fall into gentle disrepair.
let me forget your name, stop all of the chanting in my sleep.
either show yourself to me or get out.
I have to stop using all of these names
and memorizing the words.
how am I supposed to tell someone I love more dearly than myself
that her way, her truth and her light are not mine?
at prayer times, I can feel the call with every beat of my heart.
I’m too young to worry about whether my family will go to Heaven, to Paradise with me.
I need Your strength to lift my knees off of these rugs.
my mother needs to vacuum and I fear that if she catches me,
her bones will turn back to the dust from which You created

Eve knew the despair that came from disappointing her Father,
but His sorrow has nothing on
my Mothers.

By Chelsea Houston


Chelsea Houston is an eighteen year old writer, poetess, and soon to be college student. She is a feminist, tree hugger, and people lover. Her main goal in writing is to spread light and warmth. Her work has previously been published in The Fem Literary Magazine and Fifteen13 Press. You can find more of her work athttp://hellopoetry.com/chelsea-jean/.

How to Swallow Yourself Whole By Kanika Lawton

How to Swallow Yourself Whole

She pushes my hands into prayer,
my legs buckling underneath me.

I have always been so good to her,
always listening,
never talking back.

I bow my head, I mouth the words,
I let the holy water fall on my face.
I bend my knees to their orange robes,
to their selfishness,
pretending I didn’t see the younger ones
smoking out back,
pretending I haven’t already slept with

I never learned how to pray.
I never knew what to say, who
to say it to.
I look up at his gold face, his eyes
cast down, his smile knowing.
Idolatry idolatry idolatry.
I wonder what my church friends
would say.

I glue my hands together for her,
out of respect for my elders, for
my culture.
Always with a smile, always out of
What a good granddaughter I am.

Her friends envy her, envy my docility.
They only wish their grandchildren would
let them have a say in their lives.
She laughs with them, like she knows she’s
Like she knows I will never say “no” to her.

She wants me to go to pagoda again,
to pay my respects, to parade me in
front of her friends.

How good I’m doing in school,
how good I am at home,
how I always listen to what she says,
how good I am to not fall in love yet.

She wouldn’t have let me know
love like that anyway.
I wonder if Buddha knows what
I have become.

I am a makeshift shrine I destroyed myself.
I am idolatry I let her smash to pieces.
I am joss sticks grinded to dust.
I am covered in incense and burning.

I am always burning.

By Kanika Lawton


Kanika Lawton is a psychology and film student from Vancouver, Canada who is currently studying at the University of California Los Angeles. In 2013 she received several Gold and Silver Keys for her poetry and short story submissions in the Scholastic’s Art & Writing Awards and was the national winner for the Draw it! poster category in the 2013 Canada Day Challenge. She draws inspiration from real life events and believes profusely in the power of memory and perception. More of her work can be found at sapientiaes.tumblr.com

Fleur is available for pre-order!

Fleur is available for pre-order!

the newest addition to the rising phoenix press family is officially available for pre-order! you may now reserve a copy of Fleur, a chapbook by darsh suresh. working on this collection added infinite light to our lives and we are ecstatic to share it with the world! follow the link below for more details about reserving your copy.

pre-order Fleur by darshana suresh

new fleur resized


“i wish i had had this book when i developed my first crush on another girl in middle school—darshana suresh crushes heteronormative standards with Fleur, but in the tenderest way possible. a gorgeous combination of the elements of nature & the human body, suresh has written an innovative chapbook filled with vulnerable anthems specifically for girls who like girls. with lines such as “saying the words ‘i like her,’ was like saving the / library of alexandria,” and “you are a language even / the gods cannot speak,” suresh is calling love down from its place in the sky to let it know that her heart is here to stay. so buy this book: give it to a kid who may truly need it. that kid might be yourself.”

lydia havens,
author of girls invent gods

“in her powerful second poetry collection, darshana suresh allows us to witness her own incredibly raw journey of sexuality, love, loss, and finally, acceptance. suresh writes with a stunning sense of urgency; she tells a story that must be told, a story that unapologetically bleeds off the pages. the desperation, the hunger, and the overwhelming feeling of love that pervade Fleur become something tangible. she aches completely and openly, and we ache helplessly with her.

Fleur ultimately relies on suresh’s all-encompassing honesty; she navigates through the tenderness of dreams and the jagged edges of reality with a clarity that doesn’t shy away from the heartbreak of unrequited love. she gives us a love letter cluttered with the sinking feeling of not being loved in the right way, a feeling that she bravely follows through to its hollow end.

suresh leaves us with no question of anything being omitted, because she’s left it all on the page.”

emily palermo,
published poet

Brought to You by: Avoidable Tragedies for the Sake of Your Pride By Schuyler Peck

Brought to You by: Avoidable Tragedies for the Sake of Your Pride

Yesterday, I read an article
on what to do
when someone opens fire.

The author, so intelligently
and accurately, defining “when”
as opposed to “if,”
knowing at this rate,
there’s no stopping it.
As if to prepare me,
either tomorrow,
or two years from now,
how to hide from a stranger
shooting up a grocery store;
to never believe it is just fireworks
in the parking lot.

I’m so proud to be alive in a time
where the priority lies
in keeping the freedom
of trigger-happy hands,
and letting the world know
what to expect.
My kids will know better
than to leave the house
without bullet-proof vests.

Yesterday, I read an article
on what to do
when someone opens fire.
In the end, I don’t know
how much it will help.
The reality of it is
I could hear the gunshots too late,
I could be one of the first
to get picked off,
or I could not have read this article.
But thank God it was there,
I feel so much safer.

By Schuyler Peck


Born of college-ruled notebooks and the smell of lemon grass, Schuyler Peck was raised in New Jersey, but she’ll never tell you that. Instead, she’ll tell you there are pieces of her everywhere; planted in trees and shipped off to the moon. Her poetry, however, can be found in her book, A Field of Blooming Bruises, Words Dance Publications, Literary Sexts V. 2, Rising Phoenix Press, JuxtaProse Magazine, and schuylerpeck.tumblr.com. She loves you.

An Airfield Amelia Earhart Used to Know By Loretta Long

An Airfield Amelia Earhart Used to Know

It’s not every day you meet a moody curator sitting on a paint can
feeding chickens, a locked up airplane museum a few feet away.
On bad days, from his kitchen window,
he’ll throw you the keys.

When he’s able to, his petal-skinned hands
point toward cases welded from rail cars,
Inside hang spring pole stirrups,
stretched and torn
by drillers’ arches,
hop-pumping oil
for WWI reconnaissance.
He describes that wildcatter’s oil boom,
men worrying more about their horses’ looks
than themselves.

These days, everyone knows oilmen doubt
they cause stronger hurricanes.
Plenty have lost it all more than once in a storm.
Now, along the town’s empty streets, gardeners
decorate with bull wheels, with drilling jars.

From tailgates, farmers make deals
with oil black clouds miles away.
Tractor-high piles of mesquite trees wait for burning,
after drinking twenty times their share of water
on drought-stricken farm land.

The second interstate highway parallels
train tracks nearby. The Bankhead Highway.
Original cracked bricks bulge against Stork’s Bill,
Lazy Susan, Queen Anne’s Lace,
and sprouting Chinaberry trees.

Row after row of empty pews fill churches
where artists and photographers build studios
in bell towers.
Or old gas stations.
Scissortail Flycatchers’ sunset-colored bellies
shiver in the late spring frost, before lifting
from trembling stalks of dried grass.

At the grassy field called the airport,
the one Amelia Earhart used to know,
the curator spends hours
pulling rocks away from
newly planted grass seed, day after day,
although he never achieved his pilot’s license.
A sick mother and falling in love
got in the way.

Tacked to the airport wall is an aviation map.
His son crafted careful circles, perfectly neat lines,
marking like streams of sunlight
every route they’d take, if they could.
Their airport isn’t on the map,
so the son drew it in, unsure exactly
where to put it.

In the airfield after dark,
the curator teaches everyone he meets to trace Orion.
A little easier in a town with mostly burnt out streetlights.

By Loretta Long


I’ve worked as a plant potter in a greenhouse, waitress, carpenter’s apprentice, car detailer, caregiver, and massage therapist. In 2010, I received my MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. Now I live in San Antonio, Texas where I work as a massage therapist and adjunct English Instructor.

My work has been published in online and print journals including Triggerfish Critical Review, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Pemmican, Dublin Quarterly, The Salal Review, All Things Girl, and The Daily News.

INK By Roya Backlund


In 2007, they called Britney Spears “bald and broken”
after she went to a salon in Tarzana
and buzzed off all her hair. Her smile was so big
that tears dripped into her mouth.

She said “I don’t want anyone touching me.
I’m tired of everybody touching me.”

They collected her locks from the floor
set them up on on e-Bay. The bidding for her remains
reached over a million dollars.

They can keep their souvenirs of a woman breaking
beneath the pressure of so many hands
but she was never broken. A women will never be
broken. She will only be renewed
once again.


I once knew a girl in Hermosa Beach
whose father told her all women
with piercings and tattoos are sluts.

She punctured diamonds and hoops through her cheeks
until her face was a chandelier,
dragged so many needles across her skin,
her body became a manifesto
written in ink,

invented an identity
he had nothing to do with,

embodied everything her father hated
until it no longer had any power
over her.


I read the news today, about a young Kurdish girl
living in the Middle East.

The soldiers invading her village would capture her
in the middle of the night, pass her body around the circle
like a bottle of whiskey to be shared. They crushed her
like little boys crush snails on the playground, never taught
that there are some things too evil
to ever do.

She doused herself in kerosene and went to bed one night
blanketed in a flame. She needed to be ugly enough
for them to finally let her sleep,
would rather have no skin at all
than skin that did not belong
to her.


They say each of our bodies is a temple
and we must treat it well

but there are too many men
forcing us to believe in them as gods,
telling us how to say our prayers,
trying to fill every room within it
until there is no more sanctuary left
for ourselves.

If that’s true,
it makes sense
why so many women have to destroy their bodies
to protect it.

By Roya Backlund


Roya Backlund is a recent graduate of University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in English literature as well as a Los Angeles-based film actress. She has been published at Thistle Magazine, Words Dance Publishing, and will be releasing her first collection of poetry this summer. She is a co-founder of Kings Zine, a literary and artistic collective. More of her writing can be found at bellydancingsmoke.tumblr.com

September 2015 By Erin Taylor

September 2015

it was september & i had not learned how to love myself
it was september & i still allowed men who did not look at me
like the sun to                                                           touch me
as if they loved me. | it was september & i still confused the
slight heaviness of alcohol                          with invincibility
& i still attempted to speak in foreign tongues without fear.

it was september & his eyes met my eyes &
i played the game i often played with people whose eyes
met my eyes                                                       yet i lost
& i lost more than i had ever lost or even thought i had
in the first place.

it was september fifth, yes that was it, when my mattress
became my grave | it was september fifth when i had his
his his his his fingerprints tattooed
on my thighs                                      on my ass                          on my
body in places i did not recognize nor

i carry september fifth like a heavyweight in my pocket
i wait for the perfect river or stream or ocean
to fall into. i was never a good swimmer but i have been
drowning on dirt on concrete on grass.

it was september & my body slowly began to burn
& no matter how many showers
no matter how many other men touched me
no matter how much i scrubbed my skin
i was burning at his touch
it is now April & i am still burning at his touch.

it was september & i have lost.

By Erin Taylor


Erin Taylor is a Tulsa based writer who is always somewhere else. She has a chapbook of poetry OOOO (Bottlecap Press) and a forthcoming micro chap you look tired (Ghost City Press 2016). Her work has appeared recently at Alien She Zine, Metatron, Potluck Mag, Moloko House, and others. She blogs at amarettoandslayin.tumblr.com and tweets @erinisaway.