Self-Portrait on an Evening Where We Almost Kissed By Dora Levy

Self-Portrait on an Evening Where We Almost Kissed

Queer identity in concert means this:
Not knowing and tiptoeing around the subject, when I could have been kissing you.
I’m not sure you would want my skin- more of a cavity then a covering.
I offer instead the long steadied viscera –
A Vanitas of sorts. Dies irae, dies illa. Solvet saeclum in favilla.

We’re back at the art museum, light streaming through the windows.
The suits of armor line the halls, people’s voice slipping through their empty spaces.
We rush through and for a second, I think I am out of my mind in another time.
We bounce laughter off paint and varnish, throw cackles and kisses to the statues.
In one gallery, you stand for a very long time under the artificial lights.

After Orlando, we sat in the library and ate red bean buns,
And afterwards sat on the grass and had sweet cream.
And oh, remember there was going to a requiem for the dead.
A Jew, a catholic and a Buddhist walked into a concert hall,
Sat down and for a moment and let out a moan of collective grief.

We’ve huddled in the museum at the end of the world.
What exactly does the end of the ‘world’ mean?
The end of human existence? Of all living things on this earth?
Why do we presume that because our life has finished, that it will go noticed?
(And through the carefully preserved windows, I hum our almost love song.)

By Dora Levy

Biography:

Dora Levy is a 19-year-old poet, currently studying History of Art and French Language at university. Her work has been published in Vagabond City and other literary magazines. She likes peaches, Hieronymus Bosch paintings, and winter seascapes.

An Offering By Jennifer Boyd

An Offering

I remember building a cross, not knowing
how else to save myself. This is how

tigers are born – tangerine and striped
like criminals.

Tigers are loyal. I killed a
tiger once. I seared its

meat in a cast iron skillet and saved
the fur for a buttermilk

winter. Then I made a sweater. It fit like
worlds without end so I killed another

tiger. Soon, there were lots of stripes
but not enough keratin from its tiger

claw. Just like that, beast
to stripe to claw to nail.

I had forgotten how loyal
tigers are and when I showed

God my sweater, he
gave me my salvation bare

handed. That’s why
they invented gloves.

By Jennifer Boyd

Biography:

Jennifer Boyd is a high school student from Boston, Massachusetts. She is a blog contributor at both the Huffington Post and Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s global online platform. Jennifer’s poetry has been published recently in New Plains Review, Glass Kite Anthology, the Critical Pass Review, and Tower Journal. Her work has additionally been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Hollins University, Smith College, and Princeton University. When not writing, she enjoys playing the piano, singing, and learning new languages.

A Song of Remembrance for Maren Sanchez By Elijah Noble El

A Song of Remembrance for Maren Sanchez

Maren Sanchez. Say her name. Journey to the mountains and shout her into eternity. In the mornings mix it with your milk and honey. Carve it into the trees and tell your children about her. Maren Sanchez. Remember her. Do everything you can to keep her in you as drive to wake up in the morning and claim your space in life. Grow old. Endlessly seek your happiness. Do it for her. Say her name like a banner atop a fortress. Remember her as war paint, take up arms, and fight.

I remember when I first read about her. An honor student, sixteen years old, eyes to prom, eyes to the future. She would’ve worn a dress as blue as the sea and her mom would make her spin around, with pride running down her face. She would’ve rolled her eyes and smiled at her dad saying be back by midnight. She would’ve danced with her friends in the strobe light darkness. She would’ve drank punch and laughed and laughed. She would’ve made it home that night. She would’ve laid her head down to meet the morning, and met someone special somewhere down the line. She’d fall out of love and back in. She’d become a swimming champion. She’d find a job that makes her feel good inside and she’d climb the ranks. She’d settle into a good life with a good person and a good story to look back on. If the world was right she would’ve gotten this.

April 25th, 2014. A boy asks a girl to prom. A girl kindly refuses. Boy then strangles girl, pushes her down a flight of stairs. Boy brandishes a knife and stabs her in the torso and stabs her in the neck. One morning. April 25th, Maren’s entire past, entire future, is stolen from her. I sat there reading. I couldn’t stop thinking of a family’s pain. I couldn’t stop picturing Maren at sixty, seeing her grandchildren running around the house. I once wrote about imagining her mother spreading her blue prom dress out on her bed and thinking of the blue of the ocean, of how the tide always returns. I once wrote about how I’ll always believe in returning, about how she’ll see Maren again, somewhere in a better life, and that she’ll love her there as much as she did here.

Say her name as rebellion now, as revolution, as vigil, as defense, as a reminder that being a woman should not be a death sentence or a call to a bed or a life lived for someone other than herself. Remember her as gentle and as strength. Remember her as sixteen, as a child who never got to live the life she was promised. Recently I’ve been fascinated with the concept of song, song in a poetic context; song as fire, as battle cry, as healing, as remembrance. So let us sing a song for Maren. Let her never be forgotten to time. She deserved so much more from life. From here we have to make sure life

gives something back to everyone, a little at a time. Take yourself and your mothers and your daughters and your nieces to the mountains and shout her name as healing, as survival song. Take the shame men have tried to give you, take the abuse and the violence and the expectations, take them all to the mountains and let go. Take it all to the mountain and dispel, dispel, dispel. Carry Maren. Carry her name, her memory, her unwritten future. Carry it all to the mountain and sing.

By Elijah Noble El

Biography:

Elijah Noble El is the twenty-two year old author of The Age of Recovery (2015). His numerous honors include a nomination for Best Writing at the Top Indie Film Awards for the short film Dog-Faced Honey. His work has been featured in Literary Orphans, Words Dance Magazine, The Rising Phoenix Review, Straylight Magazine, Hooligan Magazine, Persephone’s Daughters, Kerosene Magazine’s CONTRA, Illumination, Exist Magazine, Soul Anatomy, The Odyssey, L’Éphémère Review, Erstwhile Magazine, and elsewhere. El is the co-founder of Girls Don’t Cry, the film division of the literary magazine Persephone’s Daughters, a magazine founded by Meggie Royer dedicated to empowering women who have experienced various forms of abuse and degradation.

Fracture By Kevin Risner

Fracture

There’s gas in my backyard.
I receive an envelope
from some company asking:

“Can we search for gas
beneath the acres of green forests
that seem to have no end?

In return
green bills will spill
into your bank account.”

The next vision from my window:
yellow and metallic
bulldozers scooping sod and humus

An ice cream scooper
tunneling to the world’s end
and soon they will find their treasure.

Next? Tremors rattling china
off my wife’s shelf
family portraits crashing to the floor

My foundations splitting –
but at least I’m alive and breathing
no injuries from human error.
.
The deer and the hares long gone
the dogs’ howls silent in the evening
a mound of sepia sludge from rain –

That’s their home by the way
all we hear split rock, the churning
and whirring of drills, no trees left.

They inject toxic water
into the earth’s soul
tarnishing the sun’s reflected façade.

The green still present
has no value anymore
rotting in the vaults of our den.

The dens of the creatures that lived out there
scooped clean
empty and lifeless.

All that air invades our lungs
two charcoal boulders
been smoking two packs a day.

Two months have passed
and my visions are eclipsed
by the roars of machines.

By Kevin Risner

Biography:

Kevin Risner is a product of Ohio and has lived there for most of his life except for brief periods of time in England and Turkey. At the present, he resides in the Cleveland area where he is ESL Coordinator at the Cleveland Institute of Art. His poetry can be found in Red Paint Hill, Red Flag Poetry, Silver Birch Press, the murmur house, and elsewhere.

Stew With Mushrooms By Zara Williams

Stew With Mushrooms

lately, everything is an exercise in coping.
do you know how that is? have you ever
found solace in a knife and a pile of
mushrooms? remind me, how many years

have i, have you, wasted in the chapel? where did
those lies get me? where did that hate get you?
sunday afternoon, your car pulls up. here
i am, slicing mushrooms. i cope: ignore the

bells. rub garlic on the insides of my wrists.
pretend the meat isn’t weeping pus. the hungry
can’t pick and choose. slim pickings:
a fouled heart, or communion wine turned vinegar.

i chop the mushrooms. fear writhing in

my stomach. my stomach, the pit. my
stomach, the crater where your brother
landed, left burnt earth, fragments
of skull behind. i call him meteor.

asteroid. you know, i was never clear on
the difference. so i cut the mushrooms.
knife down.     knife up.     knife down
next, the carrots. an onion. i cut the

meat last. pull it from my chest with
all the ceremony of fetching leftovers.
no need to beat it. it’s tender already
from all the beatings, the bruises.

they say you get a bruise for every birthday.
two for every baby tooth lost. five for
everyone who’s ever fallen out of your gums. is it
still loss if you pull them out? tie string

three times around, slam the door, pull?
ignore the blood.
knife down.
knife
up. knife

By Zara Williams

Biography:

Zara Williams is an artist and a storyteller, currently studying English literature and history of art at the University of Edinburgh. She is Director of Social Media at Monstering, a magazine for disabled women and nonbinary people, and at Half Mystic, a literary journal about music. She was a recipient of the Scottish Book Trust’s Young Writers Award – a national award for young people aged 13-17 – in 2013 at the age of 15. Her poetry has been published in the Young Writers Award 2013 e-book. Her more recent work has been featured on Monstering’s blog, and in The Dinner Table Review.

The Woman Behind the Makeup Counter Asks What Gender Are You, the Man in the Pickup Truck Asks What Gender Are You, the Boy in My English Class Asks By E.J. Schoenborn

The Woman Behind the Makeup Counter Asks What Gender Are You,
the Man in the Pickup Truck Asks What Gender Are You,
the Boy in My English Class Asks

My gender is a sleeve of to-go cups
because he no longer wants to stay for coffee.
My gender is my date saying,
“I don’t think I could go out with a trans person.”
My gender sits across from me at Starbucks, at Applebees, at the cafeteria, shakes its
head whispering please please please please.

My gender is a tube of shimmery blue lipstick called “Unicorn Tears.”
My gender is a brown leather jacket bought for a fourth of its price on Craigslist.
When I go to pick up my gender, it tries its best to look like boy, to sound like boy,
to shove all its lipstick and eye shadow into its pocket for safekeeping
because my gender does not know how many knives are in this stranger’s apartment.

My gender was thrown down a stone well filled with frogs.
My gender is the well.
all croaking and swollen throats and dead flies.
People throw pennies at my gender, wish
for sex,
for satin sheets,
for it to shut its fucking mouth for once.

My gender is a series of love letters I forgot to send to myself.
My gender is a Goodwill dress for $8,
the only one that fits my shoulders,
Later, my gender gets asked on the street if it’s wearing a Halloween costume.
My gender uses lipstick for eyeshadow.
because my gender needs the money for groceries.

My gender is stubble and skirt and mothers raising eyebrows and men taking photos and the rest
of them glaring.
My gender is a tiny bird in the mouth of a crocodile,
a cleaner fish on the underbelly of a shark.
My gender is so close to people that want to kill me.
My gender is an empty box of Kleenex.
Boys try to find something to Cry or Cum Into, but discover there’s nothing left.

My gender wipes the lipstick off its face,
some days, my gender can’t smile but that’s okay.
My gender goes out the back door and buries a bruised apple at the base of a tree.
My gender is terrified of cigarette smoke because it reminds my gender of him,
of his grey sweatshirt and straw hair and rough arms.
My gender is rape survivor.
My gender is not rape victim.
My gender refuses to become victim.
refuses to fucking die.
My gender reaches an arm out of the earth they buried it in.
breaks every headstone they put its name on.
My gender rips apart every book that says “opposite sex”
claws the word “they” into the chalkboard.
My gender walks into the makeup store, eats all the lipstick,
smashes the glass countertop.
My gender flips every pick-up truck in a five mile radius.

Everyone asks my gender what it is
so my gender
answers.


By E.J. Schoenborn

Biography:

E.J. Schoenborn (they/them/theirs) is a non-binary and queer performance poet from St. Paul, MN. A recent graduate from Macalester College, E.J. hopes to become a children’s librarian later in their life. When not writing poetry, they are searching the Internet for perfect pictures of possums, otters, and red pandas to share with their friends.

Mother of All Bombs By Noriko Nakada

Mother of All Bombs

Last night’s
nightmare
ripped my
family apart
flesh from bone
forcing me
to choose
my life or theirs.

Waking up
to a family intact
I couldn’t
shake the feeling
that in an
instant
it could all
implode.

By Noriko Nakada

Biography:

Noriko Nakada writes, blogs, tweets, parents, and teaches middle school in Los Angeles. She is committed to writing thought-provoking creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Publications include two book-length memoirs: Through Eyes Like Mine and Overdue Apologies, and excerpts, essays, and poetry in Lady Liberty Lit, Catapult, Meridian, Compose, Thread, Hippocampus, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Linden Avenue.

Weekend Poetry Sale

Weekend Poetry Sale

Rising Phoenix Press is having a weekend sale on all of our poetry titles! Use the code WEEKEND15 at checkout in our etsy shop and get 15% off of your order. The sale ends at 12am Eastern Time on June 19th.

Rising Phoenix Press Collections

Survive Like the Water By Lydia Havens eBook and Print Copy

Keystones by Christian Sammartino eBook and Print Copy

Fleur by Darshana Suresh eBook and Print Copy

Flash Sale (3)

MEDUSA WRITES FOR TEEN VOGUE By Dorothy McGinnis

MEDUSA WRITES FOR TEEN VOGUE

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,
Help?
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,
“Medusa”
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

Biography:

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.

Exform daydreams By Ricardo Gonsalves

Exform daydreams

  • raisins @1.26¢ per pound
  • taxes due Nov.2nd
  • new credit card: Do Not Bend (over)
  • dentist appointment 2pm.
  • write Dear Joan letter to ex
  • Tuesday, visit mom at hospice
  • electric bill past due ($96)
  • call auto shop re: brakes
  • bury dog in back yard
  • student loans due yesterday $451
  • shoot neighbor—-bury near dog
  • Dow Jones 17,898.84 down-140.22
  • cash unemployment check
  • buy 2 used tires @ $46 ea.
  • bail dad out of holding
  • cut water use by 50%
  • sell blood on Thursday
  • 2 strikes 1 ball 2 outed in the 9th
  • jury duty April 1st
  • call ex and beg forgiveness
  • prepare for the rapture on Feb. 31st
  • razor blades @ $9.06 a pack

By Ricardo Gonsalves

Biography:

Ricardo has been “writing” in forms as concrete poetry, experimental text and at times using barbed wire to contain written verse. The content of much of his work reflects a push-pull hybridity between the influence of Chicano Art, class struggle and the challenge of experimental expression. Nearly all his work is political and reflects the sharp edges of working class existence. He was Portuguese, born in New Bedford, Mass. in a hardcore working class community. Ricardo was also deeply involved in the Chicano Movement. Arrested for writing an article, with graphics, about how to make Molotov Cocktails. Arrested for rioting during the Chicano Moratorium. Arrested for sales and possession when he got out of the Marine Corp. Currently, he is an official something-or-Other at the Magoski Arts Colony in Fullerton, California.