Aftermath By Karuna Chandrashekar

Aftermath

Every time she leaves

I break hourglasses / I refuse the gift of regret

When she returns

with her hands empty / and eye bruised / like a child’s knees

I whisper / forget your emptiness

you are the night’s husk /

I have uttered her name / like falling lilies /from a clenched fist / at a gravesite

her name / is the last wishbone / to fill the china of my palm / its madness

echo / I have read like psalms.

She pretends she has not heard

the jacarandas chatter / how I have been livid with love

viscous with blood / a heavy duty wire sparking / in a vicious flood

her heart’s incoherence / is a fist full of flowers

stuffed in the raw mouth of childhood / she refuses the gift of deliverance /

and I am the bruised fruit / of this resistance.

Every morning / she blinds each eye

to love me,

every night / I sleep dreamless

a wolf cut from her howl / I have watched dreams die / ships sinking

in a sea’s wail / a neon stoplight / blinking its last /

on a deserted highway

Yet I am still wild / teeth and hair / dust and bones /

a hurricane’s eye open wide, wild /

so there.

By Karuna Chandrashekar

Biography:

Karuna Chandrashekar is a psychotherapist practising in New Delhi India. Her work has been featured in A Blackbird Sings, The Sunflower Collective and is forthcoming in Eunoia Review and Anomaly Lit.

Jerusalem By John Stupp

Jerusalem

Hot metal
poured from the sky
and the casting molds cried out
in 1968 this was a dangerous part of the plant
I rode by in a forklift
with a skinny Jehovah’s Witness
he looked like William Blake
in the dirty fog
he said
Henry Ford was the devil
and this was hell
this industrial revolution
that’s all he talked about
he wanted to die
because he was already saved
and in Jerusalem
don’t waste your prayers on me
he said—
the next morning
some guys saw him before he punched out
handling knives and forks in the cafeteria
like a conjurer
and calling everything by another name

By John Stupp

Biography:

John Stupp is the author of the 2007 chapbook The Blue Pacific and the 2015 full-length collection Advice from the Bed of a Friend both by Main Street Rag. His new book How Tuesday Began will be published by Finishing Line Press. Recent poetry has appeared or will be appearing in The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, By&By Poetry, LitMag and Off The Coast. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

chiaroscuro By Nooshin Ghanbari

chiaroscuro

Dark and light, bad and good, are not different but one and the same. —Heraclitus

he says I’m going to burn
(but I’m the only one capable of
keeping up / matching wits
his words have begun to eat
me alive but I still want
so many things that are him
and not him / his sweet voice
crooked smile
(I shake at remembering the little pink
crescents carved into my palms where
my nails dug early graves
that spell out his name / icy fingers at
my back playing me like a broken violin)
I want him
to stop / to yield / he never does

on other days he says I’m his hero
(that makes everything worth it / right?)
eyes hazy from admiration or drink
number three / love is just as blurry
he tastes like home and bright bright light
(“god, your voice is beautiful” he says
and that is as much of a temptation as
fingers crocheted together / hand in hand
hand on shoulder / hand on back)

the two-step turns to five and I’m tripping
lips touching my neck and whispering
“you’re a really fast learner, babe”

he swears that every chorus is my name and
silly me / I believe him.

By Nooshin Ghanbari

Biography:

Nooshin Ghanbari is a third-year English major at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was recently awarded the 2016 Ellen Engler Burks Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing. She currently serves as the assistant poetry editor of The Nocturnal Literary Review, the official journal of the university’s Plan II Honors program. Her poetry has previously appeared in Skylark Review.

Best of the Net Nominations

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We are so pleased to reveal our first ever nominations for Best of the Net! All of these phenomenal writers fill us with tremendous hope. We are so honored for them to represent Rising Phoenix Review this year!

Syntax By Lydia Havens 

ON THE QUEER GIRL FANTASY By Natalie Wee

Saffron By Ramna Safeer

We’ve All Got Eyes, Man By Talicha Johnson

Your War By Do Nguyen Mai

All Through the Town (On a Bus in L.A.) By Jessie Lynn McMains

 

Giving Yourself to Him By Rivka Yeker

Giving Yourself to Him

Your power line
is limp. It is bent over
a flock of birds as they
jump over its dead
electricity. There is leftover
energy on the other side of town
but no one cares enough to
bring you a spare charger.
He stands in the corner
and watches your eyes roll back.
He says he won’t leave,
he’ll just watch.

By Rivka Yeker

Biography:

Rivka Yeker lives in Chicago and is a student at DePaul University studying Media & Cinema Studies, Public Relations/Advertising, and Creative Writing and is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Hooligan Mag. While she’s not running Hooligan, slinging coffee and books, and going to school, she’s forming new theories on human connection, absorbing and critically assessing media, reading comics, and yelling poetry in front of strangers.

Blistered Tongue By Caseyrenée Lopez

Blistered Tongue

i burnt my tongue
with melted sugar

today. the flinching
pain reminded me

of the way you taste
when you’re fresh

from a hot shower
or my favorite,

covered in salty sweat.
i felt the scorched taste

buds rise, agitated,
almost numb, but i

can’t stop running
the burn over the roof

of my mouth, pouring
salt over the sugary

wound, adding to the sharp
pain of glass in my mouth.

By Caseyrenée Lopez

Caseyrenée Lopez is a non-binary queerfemme atheist. They edit Crab Fat Magazine, TQ Review & Damaged Goods Press in an effort to platform marginalized writers/artists, particularly queer and trans folks. Their debut full-length collection, i was born dead, is forthcoming from ELJ publications in 2018. Follow them on Twitter @caseyreneelopez.

Sellers in El Parque de las Palomas (The Pigeon’s Park) in Puerto Rico By Talia Flores

Sellers in El Parque de las Palomas (The Pigeon’s Park) in Puerto Rico

They sit in concrete nests,
hands open in prayer or pleading.

They look for the dolares in pockets and wallets
and at the ends of outstretched arms,

but they do not steal. They earn each scrap and coin
like they’ve earned scars.

Skin like plátanos peels,
wrinkled. Heavy with tears of their people.

Eyes granite gray,
sun hot like death or passion.

Eyes galaxies of their own-
what cuentas they could tell.

Their tongues stick to the roofs
of their mouths like sunrises

sweat warm color.
Perspiration and perseverance-

one day they’ll roar with the pigeon wings-
but for now they are stone lions

waiting

By Talia Flores

Biography:

Talia Flores is the recipient of the 2015 Texas Book Festival Fiction Prize and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Her work appears or is forthcoming in National Poetry Quarterly, Words Dance, Souvenir Lit Journal, Gigantic Sequins, and more. She was a mentee in The Adroit Journal’s Mentorship Program, and she works as a reader for Polyphony H.S. and as an editorial intern for The Blueshift Journal. She will be attending Stanford University in the fall.