Unlearning the Principles of Displacement for a Body at Rest By Chisom Okafor

Unlearning the Principles of Displacement for a Body at Rest

I’m only a boy on the night my father returns from his former life ─
a country that offered him death for two bottles of cheap wine ─
hair, the colour of wet moss
and stranded between columns of woodsmoke and evening air,
a prayer book for exorcisms flipped open in his head.
He wades his way to shore, skin bleached by pale sunlight.
I want to say greetings but he offers charred teeth for smiles.
A bag of bones for gifts. Blood stained hands in lieu of an embrace.
I hurt myself with a fishhook, curious to discover
what remains of my tactile sense. I drill a hole
into the point where the tip of my thumb should be ─
a scavenger, digging for diamond in a deserted coal mine.
My father does not gather strands of my falling hair in his hands
nor does he start to ululate in thanksgiving
for (my) survival in his absence.
His eyes are never here nor there,
wanting love, wanting home again, wanting everything.
He says: ‘come home, boy. Home is an open door.’
I say: ‘my body is rainwater finding home after a thunderstorm.’
So I’ll stay until deep into sundown when the stars start
to fall and hit my feet in sparkles.
I’ll stay until I no longer see his face, heavy with liquor,
nor feel the painful evidence of his whip on my lower back
─ induced stretch marks.
Until I become unable to decipher sounds
nor answer to this river each time she calls ─ tender notes
rising, then dissolving into echoes, soft and thrumming
like sapphire tossed into her body, slicing out a neat arc in air
before sinking and causing ripples in concentric circles.
I’ll stay all night, until I’m washed clean again, by the dews at first light.

By Chisom Okafor

Biography:

Chisom Okafor is a Nigerian poet and Nutritionist, who was shortlisted for the Gerald Kraak Prize in 2019. He edited 20:35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and presently works as Chapbook editor for Libretto Magazine.

Diasporic Directive By Meimei Xu

Diasporic Directive

If you do end up travelling to find home,
try to take an album with you.
Play it from the beginning

and let the shuttle windows perform the tunes of a land
that your ears have lost. Forgive the aproned eyes
that follow you like paintings.

The first songs are the singer’s breadwinners. Their allegro. Their deliverance
into the public eye–their birthplace. You will be tempted to jump to these,
but they are only your first loves, the strangers we all fall for

and you are no acrobat. Wait your turn to be found; there are more
like them. Everyone came from somewhere, but only some are lucky
enough to marry their first songs, their hometowns,

to hold them and to be held by them each night, to see them without
the superstar bling, the opera masks, the trappings for tourists,
grubbing at the old dives and driving the kids through shortcuts. Only the luckiest

watch the same face on the pillow change morning by morning,
instead of by years, decades, casually, while scrolling, or over coffee
like the rest of us– Diaspora: something sent you into exile

and you leave tracks of yourself everywhere. Find them in the second song.

By Meimei Xu

Biography:

Meimei Xu is a junior at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, GA. She is a recipient of a 2018 National Gold Medal for Journalism from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, and her nonfiction and poetry will move onto national judging this year. Her work has also been recognized by the Library of Congress. She currently works as a content writer for the Adroit Journal and has attended the 2018 Kenyon Review Young Writer’s Workshop.

Narcan City, VT By Maranda Greenwood

Narcan City, VT

1.

School Street is now known as Narcan Road.
All the town’s twenty-somethings
have disappeared over there—

they pass out while walking.
Face first sidewalk burn,
nodded and frothing—

needle still in the bloodroot.
Why are their shirts always raised,
exposing abdomen flesh

in unflattering ways,
ankles twisted around
in unnatural positions.

2.

Look closely, under-eye concealers
don’t hide the black quarter moons
that make their bottom lids look swollen—
they can’t photograph like us.

Every holiday Facebook photo
has at least one whose pooled moons
tell us, this family,
chases death.

In the morning the children are told
what they lost. At night the children
ask if they can make a deal with Santa.

There’s a whole town out here
where all the spoons are missing.

3.

Heaven could be real. Where good selfless people go
to have painless picnics with other dead loved ones.
Angel wings shimmering in a disease-less garden,
gold-gated. Lions lick the heads of lambs in peaceful
greeting—God smiles.

Hell could be real. Where bad selfish people go
to be punished in a place of sorrow and torment—
tongues scorched with 1000 lies, flames licking
their lips—Heaven visible across the way—
God smiles.

Now I hear Opiate Angels could be real.
Pinhole pupils and dark crescent lids,
pocked skin—grey. Deep reds from elbow
to neck. Weightless and skeletal, flying high.
Thin leather dragon wings clearing the clouds,
an army of addict angles looking over
the orphans in shifts. Doing what they couldn’t
in the flesh.


By Maranda Greenwood

Biography:

Maranda Greenwood is a Vermont poet, she holds an MFA in Poetry from Arcadia University. Her work can be found in Sundog Lit, Eunoia Review, Crab Fat Magazine and other journals. In her free time she coaches field hockey and collects Zoltar tickets.

Denotation By Changu Chiimbwe

Denotation 

im•mi•grant
ˈiməɡrənt/
noun

1. my brown hand swallows five a.m. sunshine when i leave gaia’s body christened hope and halcyon. i beat the ground with glory, and dew collides with dream to build its home on my soles. i am too young to call this land foreign soil.
2. my grandmother’s prayers are steel blue: a color that makes the evening american sky light and soft on my eyes come september. five is an age that curls my hand with mercury’s flames, burns my throat with acidic curiosity. i am tired, i am poor, i am one from the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
3. my language sprinkles old rome’s embers upon my mouth; bambuya cannot mean grandmother on america’s tongue, and imbalala cannot serve as the nuts on her welcome table. i am slowly witnessing the death of the new colossus. liberty to ash, justice to dust.

By Changu Chiimbwe

Biography:

Changu Chiimbwe is a sixteen-year-old Zambian writer currently living in New York where she spends too much time indulging in films, philosophy, and politics in addition to writing poetry and prose.

Martha 3 By Ligia Berg

martha-3
I worked with Martha Saffo for several years. She is a Crossdresser. These images are a little part of a work that i was doing about her history, her thoughts, and her imaginary aesthetic. Being a Crossdresser is sometimes being that you really are but for ‘ours’ and ‘sometimes’ because the ‘regular people’ and society don’t admit this expression. I want to say to Martha that everything is ok, that she is a wonderful person and she have to be that she wants.

By Ligia Berg

Biography

Ligia Berg was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1987. She loves visual arts and music, and does both of them. She is fan of mysterious images and the baroque composition and we can find that in her work. Her work was showcased in see me, xataka, inrocuptibles, so bad so good and other local publications. She loves the cinema aesthetic, creating characters and telling stories in images. She is really interested in gender issues and that crosses almost all her work.

Love Boat By Ligia Berg

love-boat-ligia-berg.png

I worked with Martha Saffo for several years. She is a Crossdresser. These images are a little part of a work that i was doing about her history, her thoughts, and her imaginary aesthetic. Being a Crossdresser is sometimes being that you really are but for ‘ours’ and ‘sometimes’ because the ‘regular people’ and society don’t admit this expression. I want to say to Martha that everything is ok, that she is a wonderful person and she have to be that she wants.

By Ligia Berg

Biography

Ligia Berg was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1987. She loves visual arts and music, and does both of them. She is fan of mysterious images and the baroque composition and we can find that in her work. Her work was showcased in see me, xataka, inrocuptibles, so bad so good and other local publications. She loves the cinema aesthetic, creating characters and telling stories in images. She is really interested in gender issues and that crosses almost all her work.

When Love Is Not A Feeling But A Color By Anita Dutt

When Love Is Not A Feeling But A Color

My father was black and my mother white,
and I, somewhere in between.
I witnessed a love that was not bound by
dichotomous thinking, so in first grade when
the white girl in my class would not sit with me for lunch,
I did not understand why love was not a feeling, but a color.
In ninth grade I read a poem about a girl that
shaved her skin in the bathtub so that she could be
the color of acceptance: white.
Instead, she learnt from the bloodshed that hate
was the color red.
One day in twelfth grade history class, they spoke about
racism. When I told them of my experience, they told me
It does not count because you are not even black.
When I dated my first boyfriend in college, I feared
meeting his parents because of my skin and not because
I did not want them to learn that I could not
cook, nor sow, nor iron their son’s clothes.
When I graduated, I applied for a job.
Anxiety swelled in my lungs like a cup full of water
threatening to spill on to a desk of important papers.
I wasn’t afraid that I wasn’t qualified enough.
I was afraid that I was not good enough.
I had assigned my value to the hue of my skin.
I had learnt that the product of black and white is grey.
And that grey,
is the ashes of love.

By Anita Dutt

Biography:

Anita Dutt is not a musician but that has not stopped her from trying to play the heartstrings. Her composition of poetry can be found at ww.aribcagesymphony.tumblr.com. She is an Australian university student studying so that one day she can be a part of the healing.

June Publication Announcement

We are proud to announce the new lineup for the June issue of The Rising Phoenix Review. Our editors are extremely excited to publish the work of these talented poets!

We will post our second issue from June 4th-June 30th. Check our site for a new poem every day at 5pm Eastern Standard time.

The following poets will be featured this month:

Ashe Vernon
Kailey Tedesco
Dana Rushin
Anita Dutt

Anthea Yang
Patrick Condliffe
Rebecca Dutsar
Reina Adriano

Meggie Royer
Thira Mohamad
Sade Andria Zabala
Victoria Martinez

Congratulations from our staff and welcome to the nest!

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Be a Woman By Lydia Wang

Be a Woman

We are still unlearning what our mothers taught us:
to be a girl is to be something soft, something without teeth.
We grow into our mouths later, but we never learn how to use them.

“This is what it means to become a woman,” our mothers tell us,
voices dripping with syrup because they understand.
(I was a woman the first time a male teacher made a joke about my body.)
(I was a woman the first time a stranger on the Internet said he wanted to fuck me.)
(I was a woman the first time a boy touched me when I wanted him to touch me.)
(I was a woman the first time a boy touched me when I did not want him to touch me.)

Men become men when they are right and smart
but we are something different;
women become women when we have been experienced by men.
There is the talk about pouring our own drinks at parties and there
is the talk about walking home alone at night and there is
the talk about how to reject a man, how to let him down easy.
We are always on the defensive. We are always please, sorry,
thank you, but no thank you, always swallowing teeth
because we bite our tongues with too much vigor.

“This is what it means to become a woman,” I will someday tell my daughters
as they forgive themselves for their soft parts and their edges,
forgive themselves for the bleeding and the hatred
and not knowing what to say when he leers at you from a car window
and not knowing what to do when he touches your thigh.
If I have daughters someday, they will be fire.
They will be brave. They will unlearn what the world has taught them,
to always cross their legs and always sit up straight,
twist their Chapstick lips into smiles even when it hurts.
They will unlearn that they are small casualties.
They will unlearn how to swallow.

By Lydia Wang

Biography:

Lydia Wang is a writer, feminist, and caffeine enthusiast. Originally from Boston, she now lives in New York, where she studies creative writing and topics in social and cultural analysis at NYU. In her free time, she likes to spend too much money at the bookstore, rant about feminism, and fall in love with strangers on public transportation. Visit her online at poemsbylydia.tumblr.com.

“Why Are You Always Writing About Boys?” By Lydia Wang

“Why Are You Always Writing About Boys?”

They ask why you are always writing about the men
and you tell them that you aren’t. You are writing
about the lessons, the bruises, the rubbing alcohol, the hurt.
About what people take, what people leave behind,
the photographs. The flowers. You are writing about a blue dress
that cost too much money and now shirks in your closet.
You are writing about the words, the lies, the promises,
the threats, the threatening, the choking. How your ribcage cracked
when the first boy who loved you said you weighed too much.
You are writing about the dreams, the nightmares. About loving
like gravel. About shaving your legs and dressing your lips
because you want to be noticed. You are writing about the fear.
You are writing about the color of blood, his blood, your blood.
You are writing about the kisses that were too metallic.
The kisses that left your mouth feeling empty. The liquor,
how it persuaded you to leave your hands in someone else’s home.
You are writing about how sticky your shirt felt against your chest
as he pulled it off and the sand, you are writing about the sand,
how you could taste it on his arms. You are writing about the apologies.
About giving your phone number to strangers just for the thrill
of a message from an unknown number. You are writing about
reconstructing your broken bones. You are writing about
licking salt. Crying Corona tears. Learning that
you are an easy thing to touch
and a hard thing to love.

They ask why I am always writing about the men
and I tell them that I’m not. I am writing
about the burning, how I screamed.
How I loved.
How I loved.
How I loved.
How I walked away from the battleground.
How I survived.

By Lydia Wang

Biography:

Lydia Wang is a writer, feminist, and caffeine enthusiast. Originally from Boston, she now lives in New York, where she studies creative writing and topics in social and cultural analysis at NYU. In her free time, she likes to spend too much money at the bookstore, rant about feminism, and fall in love with strangers on public transportation. Visit her online at poemsbylydia.tumblr.com.