Interrogations of my sexuailty By Sankara Olama-Yai

Interrogations of my sexuailty

Woman,           Man                everything
is sexual
Attraction                                is more complicated
When questioned

Easier for you if I “pick a side”
Or choose your god
over my kiss and virtue

“Who do you like more though ?”
My natural inclination is
more of a swinging pendulum

“Aren’t you just like really horny ? ”
No        Yes…but no. Not any more
than you are
Just a different experience
You don’t yet understand

“Oh but you don’t seem….”
Do you believe everything you see on TV ?

Caricatures are for hollywood archetypes
We are all the same human
in different forms
There are infinite ways to be
the same thing

“Are you sure it’s not just a phase”
Are you sure that’s not a cliche already,
Mom. Everything is a phase in life, as life itself is a phase
before our further journey. This is a phase, one that’ll last through
this lifetime

“Now I have to be jealous of both girls and
guys, how is that fair ?”
I don’t belong to your insecurities
i’m not leaving or switching sides
I’m not more compelled towards affairs
You simply have me or you don’t

“But how did you know you were…?”
I wasn’t always sure but when i knew i just knew
Confusion is the root of growth
and i grew into this skin when i fell into confusion
and understood
who i was

My dream is that “coming out” becomes
an extinct tradition, like relics only seen
in black and white movies
and that no one finds comfort in the safety of shadows behind
closet doors,peeking through the cracks for the light
of acceptance
never crave what is owed to you
what is yours
by natural right

“Do you think you’re bi
Just so that you have more options for being loved”

You’re projecting    again   there is no rhyme or reason only
natural attraction
I’m just me    and   i shouldn’t have to question that
any more than you should

question why you’re straight

By Sankara Olama-Yai


Poems by Sankara” Le Prince Héritier” Olama-Yai. Sankara is an LGBTQ+, African American student who currently studies at Penn State. They is a reader for Frontier poetry. Poems have previously been published by Weasel press, InSpiritry and Military Review, they have had work accepted by 805 lit won three Scholastic Art&Writing awards for his poetry. Sankara is in the process of publishing their first two poetry books with Vital Narrative Press.

ICU By Cassidy Black

blue-eyed homegirls
with shadows that follow
we have burned
to have a body
black-lunged thrillers
couldn’t kill us
if they tried
i’m not that kind
of woman
have i created
enough distance to
miss you
even with worlds
and years
between us?
i drive myself into
the ditch and brag
about the bruises
in the ICU
i was wearing
a new smile
and they blew out
the candle
afraid of my flame
i wanted to knock
over the armchairs
rip off my clothes
and make them
lick the sweat
i waited for one
of them to kiss
me for fear
i will leave
because they know
that i will
i let life wash
over me
i don’t know
any better
By Cassidy Black
Cassidy Black is a small-town poet and op-ed article contributor for her local newspaper. She has attended Winter Tangerine’s summer writing workshop at Poets House, NYC. She collects postcards, glass bottles, and experiences she can write about.

Godmother By Amy Lauren


When I stretch out on kitchen chairs
my godmother snaps at me to sit like a lady

so, pulling my legs to my chest, I peer
over my knees to where she sighs,

yanking five-hundred-thread purple-checked
Egyptian cotton, cartoon-faced beach towels

and pillowing dresses from our dryer.
Sweating as she folds, hands sparking static,

she hurriedly twists edges, veiling corners
to match corners. Same symmetry of silverware

clanking as her surgical precision extracts
orphans from cupboards, finding their twins

ripe for her shining cloth. As elders arrive
they hang coats, scarves Godmother tasks me

with whisking to our foyer closet. I shove
all ninety pounds of me into antique wood

while a stepsister arranges scarves
on metal hooks, remarking how it seems

no one lives at our house.

By Amy Lauren


A graduate of Mississippi College, Amy Lauren authored Prodigal (Bottlecap Press, 2017) and God With Us (Headmistress Press, 2017). Her poetry appears in The Gay & Lesbian Review, Cordite Poetry Review, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere.

DEAD-END TRAILS By Taylor Graham


Morning sun’s cloaked in cloud.
Two men in black with a silver-weight
of stars on their shoulders:

Where do I live?
Around here.
Where’s my ID?
Seen anything suspicious?
Something blue through the brush –
tent or tarp, or plain blue sky.

I’d been interrogating the hill
for its gold – its story.

Its dead buried under spokes of iron
wheels rusting above an old hospital
for the indigent;

A cordoned-off mine-drift
into innards of ridge, loose crystal
scattered like homeless litter.

The politics of homelessness
is beyond me. This hill has been here
forever, free for walking.

Manzanita, coyote-bush wild-west bold,
all directions disappear in brush.
I point those dark stars west,
the way the sun through thicket goes.

By Taylor Graham


Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada, and served as El Dorado County’s inaugural poet laureate (2016-2018). In addition to The Rising Phoenix Review, she’s included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University). Her latest book is Uplift (Cold River Press, 2016).

Our Homeland We Call Home By Jimin Lee

Our Homeland We Call Home

I tape the ripped corners of your picture
into one ragged piece that never seems right.

Wrinkled due to the passage of time,
contaminated with coffee stains

on your paper skin. Your veins map your
glass heart. Torn, exposing the corruption

so well-layered under an aesthetic picture.
Broken, like the promises you had made.

This is our homeland we call safety.
This is our homeland we call freedom.

I wonder, how can both coexist if forces
beyond our control keep us in control?

I know I forced the ragged pieces
to form an incomplete picture—

a picture that would never
represent itself at its foundation.

I am hoping that someday
my voice will be heard

and this picture will be fixed;
after all, I’m only a lost child.

This is our homeland we call home.

By Jimin Lee


Jimin Lee is a Korean-American writer living in Seoul, South Korea. As a published author on various platforms, her fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Crashtest Magazine, The Daphne Review, and The Rising Phoenix Review, among others. She is the founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Ideate Review, a literary magazine that recognizes works of creative writing and art relating to global issues and identity. In addition, she is an alumnus of the Juniper Institute for Young Writers. She enjoys learning about the world around her and writing about it.



I with my false proclamation
of surrender, white flag
doused in kerosene, lit match
clasped between fingers
in red cross behind my back,
child soldier in my heart who I
tortured and let torture me –

you an opposing army
in your civilian clothes.

By Emma-Louise Adams


Emma-Louise Adams is a multiply disabled lesbian writer who divides their time between the Sheffield and Cambridge areas of the UK. They were briefly institutionalised as a child and have been searching for freedom ever since. They find it in public parks, literary magazines, and as much advocacy as they can handle.


[SAP] By Gabrielle Lawrence


My, what a sight they were—hanging from the tree that day
distant but, blazing like stars in the sky.
Yet we could only stand still, breathless still—silent, as they swayed

our faces feeling kissed by the sunshine rays
settling in through those black outlines, God wouldn’t even recognize my—
what a sight they were, hanging from the tree that day.

Bodies open like, flowers bloomed? Animals slain?
No—it was my limbs my face my flesh I recognized.
Yet we could only stand still, breathless, still—silent as they swayed.

All of the women in me bellowed we—have al—ready, paid.
And this is what our freedom buys my,
my what a sight they were, hanging from the tree that day.

The earth caved in. I felt it saying, “Good god—how they weigh”
The heavens fled, vanished from sight; evil himself shielded his eye.
Yet we could only stand still, breathless, still—silent as they swayed

Now the sun failed to shine—And not too far away,
I felt a woman’s heart begin to cry. I felt a child’s lips quiver. I felt a man break inside
my—what a sight they were—hanging, from the tree that day.
Yet we could only stand, —still breathless—still. Silent. As they swayed.

By Gabrielle Lawrence


Gabrielle Lawrence is a writer and editor. She holds a BA in English and is pursuing her MFA in poetry at the University of Central Arkansas. She has worked for the Oxford American Magazine, Trio House Press, and Linden Avenue Literary Journal. Her writing can be found in Gravel Magazine, A Gathering Together Journal, Words Apart Magazine, The Chaos: Journal of Personal Narrative and West Wind Literary Journal.

To Where Everything Looked Lovely By Elizabeth York Dickinson

To Where Everything Looked Lovely

It was his breath, bile
and beer soaked
tongue made me
turn a cheek. His
knuckles spun
me in a globe,
greens and blues,
star glitter falling
on the swell.

His face molten, words
jabbed me. Ducking, hiding,
a dance memorized
in childhood. The spitting
dagger halved me,
he dug out the bulb,
buried it
in fertile soil.

A scratch and pop,
nails grasping for a doorknob,
the release of a latch,
clicked closed by his grasp,
like running into storm
wind, blowing you back,
ripping hair.

Tresses trailed
three states away
to where everything
looked lovely.
The cigarette
butt, soul seeping, gun
cocked, NYC.

By Elizabeth York Dickinson


Elizabeth York Dickinson received her MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She has work published or forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Drunk Monkeys, Picaroon Poetry and Riggwelter among others. She currently resides in Evanston, Illinois.

A mother’s sermon By Sneha Subramanian Kanta

a mother’s sermon

since last spring        I taste pollen in my throat             & the face of a newborn
flashes over my eyesight before he runs away prancing deer-like
every night after sunflowers wilt the hour of rose-ringed parakeets begins

they have made cribs out of barbed electric wires above houses speckled
all over town the ocean has chained my spine in its rustling pull
I scrape rainwater out of the faces of circular green leaves at dawn

superclusters of stars burn one last time hazily & the ocean spits salt
the ether splits into faint crimson- jade sews the land with bottle green leafed trees
orioles & hummingbirds & crows jays & bluebirds commence birdsongs

my throat a lutite slope discrepant as the Pacific underwater my breasts a milk white
river flows into the umbilicus the unborn feels like a bunch of lilies knotted
within the womb fragile & untamed against the push of winds

centuries ago this ocean heaved in blood-waves thaw has leveled
waters I borrow silence say I am woman let pre-dawn engulf a metamorphosis
I make a shrine of my body so they keep you holy & unharmed.

Sneha Subramanian Kanta


Sneha Subramanian Kanta is a GREAT scholarship awardee, and has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. Her chapbook titled ‘Home is Hyperbole’ won the Boston Uncommon Chapbook Series (Boston Accent Lit). She is the author of Synecdoche (The Poetry Annals) and Prosopopoeia (Ghost City Press).  She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal. An old soul, she runs a patisserie.

Molding of Impeccable Order By Miguel Angel Soto

Molding of Impeccable Order

After Gloria Anzaldúa

In the cryptic reflection of my morning ritual, I feel a presence staring
back, floating behind me. When I turn, nothing. I continue
trimming the stems off my rough-mound cheeks, and
plucking the stalk bridging between my eyebrows, remembering
not to get carried away, keeping a “natural, rugged” look.
I admire my broad shoulders and chest, even though I rarely stay upright, or
imitate the behavior associated with this macho physique.

She appears—again—at the breakfast table, at the café, at the gas station,
on-campus, on the campus library, below the city’s skyscrapers, at the local bar.
Always unnoticed by others. Her persistent silence a suffocating
humidity walking close to North Lake Shore Drive. Our relationship
a secret to the physical world. Because, she a translucent figure, who is not a divination
of faith, not a being existing of fact, but a noumenon, existing in my sleeping
consciousness, not from nothingness, but from a lack of definition.

Her form becomes visible in my mind’s palette—I paint her my brown, chisel
her face a smooth flower petal, blush her cheeks a winterberry red,
and her ears unnoticeable behind the tangles of curly, brown hair. Her
broad shoulders and chest remain, standing vertical with pride. In my
drunken artistry, I reach to feel her, but my hands fall through the
haze—we suspend in the atmosphere. I cling to the air’s silence, make
my way to the bank, stare back at my reflection, reach in the water, and

beg for her, beg for her. The water slick on my skin—doesn’t drip in droplets, but
enters, and I feel her consuming me through the moisture, seeping
into the sinews of my warranty to be.
I can choose to be this far-from-faith / far-from-fact woman. I rush
toward the merging horizon—home, where I dress in old-roommate’s
fishnet shirt with matching leggings that show through
make-shift ripped jeans.

I create a question to mythology: Tiresias who? I don’t know her.
I exist in constant transition, conforming to my body’s need to survive,
ignoring the inability to define her sensation over me, knowing only that
her motives share a likeness to the world’s repository of water:
tasteless vapor, floating over me, condensing and then evaporating in a
cyclical motion between endless blues of sky and sea
between he and she.

By Miguel Angel Soto


Miguel Angel Soto is a queer brown boy, who explores political identities, intellectual and emotional intelligence through his writings. He’s an editor for Jet Fuel Review, a literary journal based out of Lewis University in Romeoville, IL. He also loosely blogs under the guise