(R)evolution By Eija Sumner


I’ve seen survival advertised:
a blockade for a door,
a bullet-proof backpack,
Run, Hide, Fight,
in place of letter-sounds and alphabets.

Men, almost always men,
inviting sepsis as they jab
their white-knuckled fingers
at amendment number two,
and bury guns in their yards.

I’ve witnessed
open carry in the park,
holstered on the hip
as if the playground wasn’t
carefully designed and regulated.
“This is a smoke-free zone”
protecting children
from second-hand smoke.

But what of bodies riddled
from lead bullets
coated in copper,
lungs punctured.
Children breath in metal
as they climb the ladder,
and slide down the structure
in primary colors.

A report:
an angry boy
pulled the trigger
on an innocent girl
who owed him nothing.

What is it about guns
that make men think:
I will want to be with you?
I want you to know me?
What is it about guns
attached to uniforms?
You can see a black man
and not shoot him.

You can be angry,
and take a walk in woods,
or down the block,
feeling leaves and sticks
crunch beneath boots,
and never pull your finger
into a trigger
to take a life.

Anger doesn’t equal harm,
and here I am wondering
how did men profess
to understand math
for so long?

I’ve watched two white males
enter the movie theatre
late—then split.
Trench coats matching,
bookends by exits,
my lungs trapped,
my mind raced
to solve the puzzle.

Always the lungs
trying to breathe,
finally finding air
away from the panic
to the empty
red-carpeted hallway,
counting my breaths
like I learned
from Lamaze.

I think about lungs
those spongy organs
trying to breathe,
expanding in chests,
always striving,
pink in their hopefulness
as knees lift,
feet strike ground,
and they’re running,
backpacks bouncing on shoulders,
to what’s next,
around the corner,
down the hallway,
into the future.
Lungs inhaling oxygen,
then expelling poison
to survive,
and finally
for the fight.

By Eija Sumner

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America


Eija Sumner is a writer and illustrator from the Inland Northwest. She is currently working on her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Hamline University.

Home By Jessica Lao


& I hollow myself to bone: ecru
chalk cracked on sidewalk,
coyote-picked femur of
deer. A line of telephone wire
stitches pulled apart at the
seams, & I spill, bloodless.

Look up:
This is home

Take a right to your childhood,
finger paintings done in red & green &
the feeling of porcelain against your

Or twirl your way left, to not the past,
the future or the present,
but to the unknown, a summer that hangs
silver in the night like a breath.

Still dissatisfied? Dig deep, then, all
fingertips against membranous
memory, elbows-deep until they

give slick & substantial & tear
through that neighbor’s yard one last time.
This is the homecoming of your memory.

Continue straight. Feathers buried
under red-russet clay, I call you by your

Continue straight. Thread that sky & pull
your guts out, hail spilling down at your

feet. Press on, with a lupine
shadow and hungry-parched gleam, chalk
circles at your toes.

Look up, do you dare?

Continue straight—the coyote
recognizes you with a wag—

I call, & I call & I call—

By Jessica Lao


I’m a senior and Writing Fellow at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, where I serve as editor of my school’s literary magazine. My work has been published or is forthcoming in The New England Review, Just Poetry National Quarterly, and After the Pause; this piece specifically was recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Best of the Net Nominations 2018

Here at Rising Phoenix Review, we count our days in poetry. The poems we feature are the landmarks that help us navigate the world. This group of poets helped us survive the wilderness of the past year. We thank each of them for their work and for having the bravery to share their voices with the world. We are elated to nominate each of these poets for Best of the Net Anthology 2018!

Metamorphosis By Wálé Àyìnlá


Hibernation By Nandita Naik

I Believe Him About the Deer By Ana Maria Guay

Apologia By Mary Alice MacDonald

Lockdown Ready By Hazel Kight Witham

Lockdown Ready

Remember that day
they armed you with plastic bucket

that served as both carrier for
duct tape, plastic gloves, trash bag

and possible latrine
should lockdown outlast bladder or bowel

Remember the cardboard screen,
big as classroom door times three

they gave you to build bathroom privacy
into open classroom floorplan?

Remember when you realized
these flimsy offerings
these futile gestures

what guns
could do to a school, all schools?

How you watched
as instead of passage of laws

students became suspects,
became threat,

and though most of the shooters
were white,

the targets of ensuing
suspicion were black and brown

how the broken bureaucrats

through plastic buckets, plastic gloves
plastic bags, cardboard screens

to make us feel something
more like safe, prepared, ready

but fail
every time

By Hazel Kight Witham

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America


Hazel Kight Witham is a writer, teacher, activist, and artist whose work can be found in Bellevue Literary Review, Rising Phoenix Review, Angels Flight, Zoetic Press’s NonBinary Review, Lunch Ticket and Lady/Liberty/Lit. As a proud public school teacher, she loves listening to young people and challenging them to think more critically and creatively about their place in the world they wish to live in.

Inventory, June 2018 By SaraEve Fermin

Inventory, June 2018

because Sam Hunter Mercer

I cut my nails more often than I gnaw them off these days/ my cuticles are still a bleeding mess//I’ve moved an average of every two years since I left my childhood/ everyone still thinks my life is too messy// I just think of the years I spent/ chasing my favorite bands/
in complete dedication/ bliss/ put memories over matter// I’ve improved my credit/ and/ learned not to take the bait/ when she calls/ or to take myself to therapy/ when I feel out of control/ and/ I know how to meditate/ before I send a text message// I may have impulse control problems/ I can acknowledge my problems now/ I’m comfortable talking about them or/ helping you talk about yours/ if that is what/ you need/ I will never drive a car/ I have managed to see more of this country/ than I ever dreamed of// I pay for my own dental work/ and three hundred dollars worth of/ medication a month/ and can sit in the Social Security Office for hours/ without anyone holding my hand// I repair and rekindle friendships/ and the result of some of these rebirths are children who call me Auntt// My friends are comfortable enough to tell me about/ the drugs/ they are trying on/ the people/ they are sleeping/ with// Even though I am/ a poet/ no priestess/ or lawyer//

By SaraEve Fermin


SaraEve is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from northeast New Jersey. A 2015 Best of the Net nominee, she has performed for both local and national events, including the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles 2015 Care and Cure Benefit to End Epilepsy in Children and as a reader for Great Weather for MEDIA at the 2016 NYC Poetry Festival on Governors Island. She is the author of You Must Be This Tall to Ride (Swimming With Elephants Publishing) and View from the Top of the Ferris Wheel (Clare Songbirds Publishing House). She loves Instagram: @SaraEve41

Dystopia: Mycology By Troy Kody Cunio

Dystopia: Mycology

when nature is subversive
without needing symbolism
to be subversive
each leaf of grass         or unburnt dinosaur
is a footsoldier in the resistance

when love is insurgency
Cardenal comes out of retirement
Lorca rises from the dirt
49 of my neighbors rise from the dirt
and a kiss becomes protest sign
sex is exercising the right to peaceably assemble
pleasure-cries against the despot
echo like slogans across the courthouse steps

when the young are learning to fear mushrooms
the way our parents and grandparents did
to look forward with hope is a history lesson
building a house or planting a garden
is as much preparation as denial

the only response to those who erect walls
is to add a roof           windows             doors
the only answer to the tolling
bells of persecution is to say your prayers
through a megaphone
against a line of riot shields and helmets
strip naked and dance circles with Rumi

in the face of dystopia               dance
if your body is dystopia             let your mind dance instead
if your mind is wasteland         stillness is a rhythm
dance before police before        fascists
dance with the trees
and alone in your room              dance before the guns
if you have no trees nearby        dance with skyscrapers
if you have no room you are       dancing already

if you have no police, fascists, or guns, give thanks
and then find those who do     they are not far away
place your movement between them and the terror
you were so recently a part of

when metaphor is a political tool of the regime
when erasure is the government
-approved method of editing
the past and future
to speak
is the purest form of poetry
to be sincere is more important than to be correct
which is why here I mean every word
especially the ones I left unwritten

By Troy Kody Cunio

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America


Troy Kody Cunio lives in Orlando. Their work has been published in Dream Pop, Voicemail Poems, Button Poetry, Great Weather for Media, Rising Phoenix Review, The Beech Street Review, and others. They have performed at slams, open mics, dance parties, punk shows, art museums, streetcorners, and messy breakups all over the country. A Best of the Net Nominee, Troy won the first Poetry Slam Incorporated Online Slam and is the uneditor of Rejected Lit. Yes, they would like a hug. Visit them at troykodycunio.com.

a black mamba is not black for its scales but black for its mouth By alyssa hanna

a black mamba is not black for its scales but black for its mouth

i talk about you
sparingly            but when i do
it is with venom
neurotoxic and shocking
eating away at spinal columns
and childhood dreams

this is a chain stitch      a blood tie
binding us despite the fact we share
no blood you told me in every cell
we have our own unique DNA
and mine does not match but still you
bought me a microscope for christmas
never lip gloss or nail polish and
i thank you for that

the time passed absent is not what cures this venom
but the time that hung in the air
like a body on a rope
you cried when i tried but when he
succeeded you said you felt nothing i will not say
poison because poison kills you
when you ingest it and venom kills you
when you inject it and i will not
feed you anything                                you taught me the difference
but i keep this venom
just for you

this is a foundation          a pattern
cut two pieces along the lines and sew them together
your foot reached the pedal when mine did not
the fallback against pine paneled walls the egyptian gods you bought
when you saw the pyramids           mounted firm and watching
you told me that your mother never bought you nice things
so you learned to make them yourself i wonder if
you were angry that my mom                             was kinder to me
but when you went to africa you did not take me with you
i asked about snakes and you said you saw
one but it hung as a prize in the hotel stuffed mouth open
the black mamba is actually gray you said
it’s called black for the endless abyss you are sucked into when its mouth
opens                                     you showed me how to shoot venom
in the same way you have to make sure that you never stop
the chase           be sure that your prey             has expired their brains a white noise static

your dry tears at a funeral
on the edge of the nile
the base of giza
alligator pizza what more
can i list how far
can i go how far can you

and however far you can go can you stay there
the sewing machine creaks without its master
and the yarn sits scratchy and dull
i never used the microscope but i cultivated a petri dish
it is a family of bacteria
searching for nerves to sever

By alyssa hanna


alyssa hanna graduated from Purchase College in May 2016 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in History. Her poems have appeared or are upcoming in Reed Magazine, The Naugatuck River Review, Barren Magazine, Rust + Moth, BARNHOUSE, Pidgeonholes, and others. She was also nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2017 James Wright Poetry Competition. alyssa is an aquarium technician in Westchester and lives with her fish and special needs lizards. follow her @alyssawaking on twitter, instagram, ko-fi, and patreon.

Shell Shock By Eliza Browning

Shell Shock

Because we are children, the untouchability
of our lives seems fragmentary, uncertain.

Remind me what softened us, casing by case,
until it rocked our bodies numb?

Out here we breathe church bells and lichen.
Out here we breathe crossfire and limestone,

the twenty-six flags at the fire station bleeding
into vision from the middle of December until

to first thaw of spring. East of the river, the
journalist writes, it’s like a different world.

With every frost we become children again,
huddling in the back of a school bus around a

single screen in a gray veil of snow, wondering
who would save us. Down south, in the shadow

of the Potomac, a girl and boy are digging by a river.
They’re scooping graves out of the mud and silt,

scraping shards of bark from beneath their fingernails,
burying what’s left of the past and everything yet unknown.

By Eliza Browning

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America


Eliza Browning is a seventeen-year-old high school senior from Connecticut. She is the editor-in-chief of her school literary magazine, Sidetrax, and the founder of the Janus Review, an online publication aimed at promoting diversity in the arts and amplifying the voices of high school and college students. Her work has been recognized by Hollins University and College Xpress.

Mothers with Searchlights or After Another School Shooting By Mitch James

Mothers with Searchlights or After Another School Shooting

Hell is not below
It’s above
and it’s full of mothers
searching for their dead children

God is not up there
He is a man
Men don’t wait
He is not listening to your prayers
It’s all mothers
and they’re wailing

Here’s what’s fucked up

If they could hear you
over their lamentations
they’d probably stop what they were doing
stop searching for their dead
just to help you

That’s what women do
when they become mothers
Even when they’ve lost it all
they find more to give

Hell is
so-tired mothers

You don’t believe me
Look up into a clear night
You’ll see them
in their infinite fatigue
sorrow eternal
their children nowhere to be found
just mothers
and darkness

How do we not weep at it
all the children gone
all the mothers standing
their searchlights bright
but still

By Mitch James

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America


Mitch James lives in Northeast Ohio by way of Pennsylvania by way of Illinois. He has three degrees, one terminal, in various fields of English studies. Mitch has had fiction, poetry, and scholarship on creative writing published in a handful of venues, most of which can be found at mitchjamesauthor.com. Mitch’s poetry and fiction are both traditional and experimental, think Darren Arnofsky weds Cormac McCarthy while stepping out with Raymond Carver and having a tryst with Hemingway, all of it witnessed by William Faulkner through a small parting in a curtain; think of trying to remember a life lived just like that but having to do so through a memory that only knows for certain the bottle is empty but wasn’t last you checked, all while listening to Philip Glass and Max Richter, knowing that if death had a sound, they are it.

clawing at the grounded moon #35 By Darren C. Demaree

clawing at the grounded moon #35

each day is kidnapped by my pursuit to carve my whole given name into the moon rock i’m leaving a trail my children have started to follow me they keep adding hearts they keep adding cat ears i’ve kept my lettering medallion thin as always i am fattened up by my children who see the moon as a new friend who see the moon as a neighbor who have explained to me over and over again that the moon has no business here among us isn’t it pretty isn’t it pretty isn’t it pretty

By Darren C. Demaree


I am the author of nine poetry collections, most recently “Bombing the Thinker” (September 2018), which was published by Backlash Press. I am the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. I am currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and children.