From By Annie Ma


I come from
the Silicon Valley,
twinkling clouds and sweet August winds —
Jeez, why are there so many Asians here?
bitter herbal medicine and unlucky number 4.

I come from
full-face sun visors and shameful Ying-ah-leesh,
pandering smiles and tacky designer clothes—

I come from
kitchen drawers stuffed with grocery bags,
a tiresome diet of millet porridge and rice,
fetid tofu and scratchy chinaware,
Sriracha, Kikkoman, and Lee Kum Kee.

I come from
If you don’t receive a good letter, you can go live on the streets.
a classical piano training I can’t recall anymore,
debate and chemistry and community service and journalism,
captain to intern to president to editor-in-chief,
So what if it’s Friday? If your friends are relaxing, this is a time for you to get ahead.

I am from
the day I joined “subtle asian traits” on Facebook, 1.4 million strong,
I am from
the day I watched the first episode of 流星花园,
I am from
the day I made wontons, mother’s own recipe
with a whiff of Sriracha,
I am from
the day I discovered rapper Rich Brian—
“Do the shit for the people that look like me.”
I am
chemistry and mathematics in a sleek blue-bottled classroom,
I am
poetry along the whispering August trails,

I come from
a history, a family,
and a culture that is mine.

By Annie Ma

Previously Publised in Eunoia Review


Annie is a high school senior at The Harker School in San Jose, where she is the editor-in-chief of the school’s literary magazine, HELM. Her poetry and prose have won several Scholastic Writing Awards. She is the founder and president of Book Bank (, a nonprofit organization that serves underprivileged communities by collecting and distributing free books to K-8 school children.

Hymen By Noelle McManus


“It’s going to hurt,” she told me,
“and we’re going to bleed.”
Such was the burden saddled upon us.
Boys looked her way and she looked away
and the blinds were always too thin.
She rose, stumbling, from the water with an arm
shielding both her breasts, crying
my name.
As if there was anything I could do about it.

It’s been a long time
since I turned in that direction,
since I lay awake with her to pose questions
about their bodies and the hair on their stomachs
and how long we had to wait for them to spill.
Fear planted itself on us
like the barnacles sucking on the dock,
a slit
in the gaping maw I knew inside me.
Our teachers told us to pray a Hail Mary
if we went too far.
“Don’t let him go in,” they said.
“Don’t ever let him go in.”
Some nights I would undress and face myself in the mirror
and imagine Mary walking in my skin.

She’s happy now,
hangs off the arm of a good Catholic boy with tanned skin
and short, fat fingers.
I want to ask her,
does it hurt you?
She stumbles from the water, thighs
split open
by the edge of the boat,
and he barks a laugh out at her.
I want to ask her,
does he lay you down like a bride?
does he make you bleed?
Some nights Mary crawls into bed beside me
and says she knows I want it.

By Noelle McManus


Noelle McManus is a twenty-year-old writer from Long Island, New York who studies linguistics, Spanish, and German. Her work has been published in The Women’s Review of Books and UMass Amherst’s Jabberwocky.

National Poetry Month Prompts: 2020

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we will post one new writing prompt every day. I thank every poet who uses these prompts as inspiration for new writing. I greatly enjoy the opportunity to read your work! I encourage each of you to consider submitting your new poetry for a future issue of Rising Phoenix Review.

If you are looking for inspiration for new poetry, you can view the full lists of prompts beneath this post. I will add a new prompt to this list each day this month, so feel free to check this list often. I hope these prompts prove to be a launching pad for your creativity!



April 1: Write a poem to your best friend.

April 2: Write a poem about your pet.

April 3: Write about your first memory of snow.

April 4: Write about a time you were forgiven.

April 5: Write a poem about what the light touches.

April 6: Look up & watch the clouds. Now, write what you witnessed.

April 7: Describe something you want right now.

April 8: Write a poem about a ritual you use to dispel anger.

When you are ready, please consider submitting your new poems to Rising Phoenix Review.

Lilith By Marilyn Melissa Salguero


We believe ourselves infinite by what the first lovers tore from the earth
& bless this bedroom the same way they did
By tearing away at the parts of us God doesn’t want to see

And I know I will be your undoing.
Love always is.

I take his communion on my knees,
carve angels wings into his back
Raise my voice with the choir and cry out for salvation,
hands clasped around another
begging for the sweet ecstasy of release
Until we both drown in sweat

There is something so holy in the way that I gave myself over to him
In blind faith
Open palmed and bowed head
Eager to serve
To sacrifice
Because everything sacred is born from blood,
And is that not what love was conceived from too?

A desire so powerful it made a man doubt his devotion,
Isn’t the only difference between a prayer and a secret who hears it?

What a testament it is,
That you can’t speak of the thing that scares you
Unless you call it by something other than it’s name

So I do not call it love even after I refuse to lie


Does the taste of me still linger in your mouth when you kiss Eve?

Can she taste temptation?
Does the sweet nectar leave her mouth dry,
And with sharp teeth
sensitive and begging for holy waters to flood and
quench a greedy and growing thirst

Staining his fingers sinful from tearing at the flesh of a forbidden fruit,
beckoning it
to blossom for him
To Come
And again
And again

Exalting in
Devouring in
And then mourning.

Until his hands are too empty.

And wet.

And I wonder

Does she knows my name?

 By Lilith By Marilyn Melissa Salguero


Marilyn Melissa Salguero (she/her/hers) is a Guatemalan poet who puts the SALT in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the human equivalent of red wine, crushed velvet and using humor as a poor coping mechanism. Melissa her work centers on her life, relationships, and identity. She has been featured on Write About Now Poetry and Ink & Nebula. She was a member of the Westminster 2018 & 2019 CUPSI team and was a finalist at the 2018 Utah Arts Festival Indie Slam. When not yelling about white boys or making God metaphors, Melissa can be found feeding her online shopping addiction, blasting Gloria Trevi, or living up to her title as the quintessential “bitter ex girlfriend poet”. Her work (along with her emotional overflow) can be found on twitter @_Miss_Marilyn.

The day the sun vanished By Nikita Bhardwaj

The day the sun vanished

my sisters and I spin
dreams of willowy gold as ruby
rain raps on our windows and doors.

outside, streams of dust glint
where sparkling tides once crashed.
my eldest sister’s trembling hands clasp mine.

together, we mourn silver rivers
of vapor, mourn the constellations that
stretched across purple mountains,
mourn the flickering winds of sticky summers past.

my legs are numb,
huddled against these wooden floorboards, as
the sky whistles a baleful warning.

I squeeze my eyes shut, listen intently to the
final breaths of a jaded planet,
hoping I’ll snag the secret to saving the world
on a stray breeze.

our ancestors told us: pray
to the stars that the violet dust never
settles, pray that this rotted
apricot never bares its foul
insides to the universe.

but they bled the planet dry.
peeled away its flesh,
plucked its jewels to adorn their foreheads,
let its emerald glaciers drain
down their fingers and thighs.

so as crackling comet storms tear
at our cloud belt, my sisters and I rummage
through centuries of bellicose madness, and
curse the fools who sowed
poison into sinless soil.

By Nikita Bhardwaj


Nikita Bhardwaj is a high school junior in Princeton, New Jersey. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has been published in TeenInk magazine. When she’s not editing or telling herself to write, you can find her sleeping, studying for a chem test, or watching the Great British Baking Show. Check out her start-up journal at!

An open letter to girls at Coachella By Kanchan Naik

An open letter to girls at Coachella

Who like sporting bindis and calling them “eye-dots”,
the california sun melting their makeup as
they breathe in the desert air.

Wouldn’t it be funny, if your third eye just
happened to open that day, and a fleshy indian snake
slithered down your spray-tanned neck,
hissing in your ear,
as an elephant tail whacked the iced kombucha
out of your hand.

Wouldn’t it be funny if you happened to find
a thread of prayer beads in your matted hair,
and your skin started to look purple and
there was the stinging tip of Shiva’s trident
nearly piercing the flesh of your chest.

Wouldn’t it be funny, if suddenly the culture
you’ve enjoyed picking apart just happened
to cling to you, in a way that isn’t
normal (to you)
directed (at you)
or perhaps most importantly,
convenient (for you)

By Kanchan Naik

This poem is the recipient of a Scholastic Gold National Key.


Kanchan Naik is a junior at The Quarry Lane School in Dublin and the Teen Poet Laureate for the City of Pleasanton. When she’s not doodling or writing poetry, she is most likely untangling her earphones or looking for something that happens to be — much like herself — lost.

Sleep Song By Serrina Zou

Sleep Song

We sleep to become clean
Where demons
Meet their oblivion,
Our eyelids
Fluttering in heartbeats —
Episodes from hell
We never dream.
We spend hours curled
In cocoons
Cradling the moon in our fingers
As if to capture
In lunar gardens
Strung with fairy lanterns
My mother tells me we are cursed
From the past eight lives,
Whispers prayers
From textured nonsense
Etched between the creviced grooves
Of our altar’s incense
In jasmine we trust our gods
To save the fragments
Of our flesh
We lost to the diaspora
They wrap our wishes in feathery tissues
And sink them in obsidian urns
Like poetry for someday
When the sky falls
Across our shamelessness
In the new year we beg for the river to swallow
Our blood —
To say we lost
And were lost
We cannot.
We sleep instead.

By Serrina Zou


Serrina Zou is a junior at Basis Independent Silicon Valley in San Jose, California and a 2019 California Arts Scholar in Creative Writing. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Just Poetry!!!, the Asian Pacific Fund, In Parentheses Magazine, and the Bay Area Book Festival. When she is not writing poetry, she is either catnapping or avidly devouring novels.

Taken from the Eye By Cindy Xin

Taken from the Eye

Part of the passion: wading waist-deep into the sky,
now liquid and sullen over your wrists. Your dress
looks different now, louder, yet subdued. Stop it—

you’re holding on too tight to something you’re
not willing to keep. Ice mends, unmends, himself
upon your back. You ask him for help, to be

consumed or to be released, but again, this is part
of the passion— you may only float as high as
permitted. Let the leeches do what they will— the

body, when lank, is the most faithful. Let the sky
undulate over and into you, leaving you nonetheless
nameless. In the back, your mother contemplates

the folds of an onion. Your mother is contemplating
a prayer. How purple is so difficult to remember.
How the years should unpeel, how she should’ve

found you by now. You give yourself nothing because
you are looking for everything: the dull the petals hide,
the death behind the mouth. This isn’t it, and you know

it—but the stars. You’d die to see them. There are
better things— but the stars. You’d re-read this
whole nightmare. Tear yourself apart for them.

Hope for a salve of their silence.

By Cindy Xin


Cindy Xin is a junior in Albany High School in California who enjoys writing poetry, listening to music, and staring at the sky. Her work is forthcoming in Earth Island Journal, Half Mystic, After The Pause, and Glass.



Dear Medusa,
I have no idea what to do with
all these split ends. It seems
everything I grow
ends up dead? What should I do?
signed, Anne Boleyn

Dear Medusa,
I have heard that I need to drink
more water for my skin,
but no matter how much I swallow
my reflection still shines back a corpse. Advice?
Thanks, sincerely, Ophelia

Dear Medusa,
What do they want from me?
Love, Marilyn Monroe

Dear Medusa,
Signed, Kesha

Dear women of vast wounds and shallow seas,
They will see girlhood in your
dimples and conclude you are ripe.
The first time Poseidon said my name,
he held it on his tongue
like a cough drop, hand on my pulse
as if he wanted me to know
something within him could only be healed
by the rise and fall of my breast.

The last time Athena sighed “Medusa”,
cursed me with snakes, a face etched
in screams of torture, she promised
no man would take on the labor of
finding the exact distance between
mortality and godhood
within me, see me
as something gaping
and rub me raw.
Athena swore this would spare me the sin
of Poseidon, that no tsunami could conquer
this much ugly.

Anne: the best parts of you are the
ones they cannot bleed, where you are
already serpent.

Ophelia: I know a lot about death but
a lot less about reflections. Turn the nunnery
of your collarbone inside out, find
all of you that is river, mix it oil, and call it Cleveland.

Marilyn: take the pins out of your
corset and find where they fit
in the tenderest parts of all of them.

Kesha: Make your cheekbones scythe,
grow yourself new wings, no feathers,
just acid. Only the living will call you a monster.

When they come for you,
discover you tore out
all the pretty and stitched
in horror, that the pregnancy of violence
has swollen where you were lilac blooming,
and they say they are Herculean for how they hate you,
title themselves heroes as they call you a slut.
Do not curve into bed frame or conquest,
no matter how badly you ache to be held.
And watch them become stone so easy.
At night, when all the vacant space
around you is screaming, run your hands over the soft landslide
of your body (since no one else can do it for you)
and marvel at how you are not stone. Not yet. Not ever.

By Dorothy McGinnis


Dorothy is a performer, a poet, and also very possibly 22 very little baby ducks disguised as a human. No one is certain. Dottie knew her path was clear when a substitute teacher in her 9th grade theatre class said one of her performances was so convincing he almost thought she was his ex wife. Dorothy has been published on Voicemail Poetry and Rejected Poetry Journal. Dorothy was a member of the 2016 Salt City Unified Team and the 2017 YouSpeak team. Her poem “English Classes”, about how Zelda Fitzgerald deserved SO MUCH BETTER can be seen on Write About Now’s youtube channel.