His two fingers between my legs felt like matches.
I still do not know what hurts more:
him touching me or thinking of him touching me;
either way, I did not ask for it. He knew this.
I was wrapped around his finger, like snow draping over branches.
Even though it has been six years
I still have a hard time breathing in winter;
the cold air in my throat feels tight,
like ice packed on concrete, like his arm against my chest.
I cannot breathe but I am learning how to.
Is there a difference between withering and weathering?
I let myself get sucked into the thought of it:
I do not know how to not put my emotions in weather

By Kelly Peacock


Kelly Peacock is a poet from New Jersey who has recently received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Along with being a three-time recipient of the Andonis Decavalles Poetry Award, she has interned with The Poetry Society of New York at The Typewriter Project and The Poetry Festival as well as at The Literary Review. She has been published once through Rising Phoenix Press and she hopes that these poems, “GHOST,” “STILL,” and “A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WITHERING AND WEATHERING” will make other survivors of sexual assault feel a little less alone.

Puki By Elizabeth Ruth Deyro


Why does a word feel so dirty
no matter how hard you scour
it clean? I speak in whispers, careful
to pronounce each syllable
without making a sound, afraid
that someone will hear me and give
me away. I watch myself in the mirror
as my mouth give shape to a word,
bring the mirror lower and watch
the word become a thing — behold
my most prized possession, my long-kept
shame. They say my worth
is measured by my purity. Keep it
out of men’s reach until I grow ripe
enough to be reaped by one.
I am a fruit that rots
when touched by different hands.
I become a woman
only when a man decides
to tie a leash around my neck. They say
my pleasure is not mine to own.
Only a man can ever touch
the thing between my legs, can ever
call it by its name,
guiltlessly consuming bodies
that are not his. I want
to learn a language where a word is not
a word made to sound
violent, where a word is not
a thing meant to be violated. I want
to learn to speak subtlety, the way I never
learned in any language I know now.

By Elizabeth Ruth Deyro


Elizabeth Ruth Deyro is a writer, poet, and editor from Laguna, Philippines. She is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of The Brown Orient and the Prose Editor of Rag Queen Periodical. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Hypertrophic Literary, The Poetry Annals, Jellyfish Review, and L’Ephemere Review, among other places, and has been profiled in Luna Luna Magazine and TERSE. Journal.

Fire Stories By Taylor Graham


A gibbous moon goes hunching up the western
sky. Its fire is ash – the fire I saw flashing
across our dry swale this late afternoon. Pink-
orange-crimson flame bursting its globe,
ready to explode as I shifted position
at the window for a better view. I rushed out –
but it just the blood-sun setting through smoke,
reflected in our truck’s window. Not wildfire.
We’re all edgy. Our state is burning.
Your son risked his life, not to mention arrest,
going back to an evacuated part of town;
driving past flames. He stopped his truck
between fire and flame-tossed embers, propane
tanks exploding, to rescue two dogs a friend
had to leave behind. My dad would do it,
he said. I’ll find a way. Those dogs are safe.
For the moment, we’re all safe. The next fire’s
about to get set somewhere.

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).

Birdbones By Cassidy Black


i am borderline and smiling
with two fingers down my throat
and no way out

the hospital light filters in
through plexiglass windows

the nurses wrapped me up
in gauze and silvadene
hawk-eyed critics of how
i tried to survive my self

allowed no more than two blankets
in february
when my birdbones crave the warmth
of wool and we can’t go outside

doctor’s orders

the nurse i hate makes me
clean up my own vomit
when i eat too many funyuns
on a good day

in a dream:
i am not crying at the dinner table
i am not a dead man’s daughter

i am fourteen trips around the sun
i am the goddamn miracle

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.

I’m not a foreigner By Sankara Olama-Yai

I’m not a foreigner

I am no longer who I was before you told me
I was a shadow
I’ve become a foreigner to myself, ever since
you fed off my roots

I immigrated from the despair you created
into the lie built from nothing

my mouth carries
a tongue starving to know itself
hungry for the erasure of origins.
The concept of assimilation
comes to mind
when asked why I no longer
speak in the same voice as my mother
and her mothers before her.

War wounds drained
the blood of my forefathers,
tainted my native body, and I was left with
these imperial sounds I let slip with bitter eloquence
from a tongue that betrays its allegiance
with every syllable

now your words fit me more comfortably
than dialects I no longer hold
memories of. They were too light not to
evaporate when my body was finished being colonized
My boiling blood escaping
into strands of incense smoke taking the shape
of lost ancestors

I beg on my knees for their forgiveness

By Sankara Olama-Yai


Sankara is an LGBTQ+, African American student who currently studies at Penn State. They are 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.



Genie Crushed by Bottle By Amy Lauren

Genie Crushed by Bottle

Mother lights a candle for the other girl,
one whose car pulls up in the driveway
every Friday night, who sweeps her kitchen
like clockwork, who doesn’t sing at Pride
or show up drunk at Walgreens’ pharmacy
for prescribed cocktails. This girl’s smile

knocks out Mother’s business partners
when it lights up the iPhone screen,
symmetry pinned in pearly white rows.
She answers articles of low-cal cooking tips
with thumbs-up emojis. Speaking of articles,

she bought a white dress that never stains
or fades, no matter how many wash cycles.
If necessary, she dabbles bleach slightly
on frills by a cold-shoulder peeking
with just enough skin to draw jealous eyes
but never glares from hat-topped Baptists.

Picture this dress: A-line, tea-length, fits
her fourteen-year-old sister, who wore it
in her first pageant, twirling across the stage
with big sister’s grace. Big sister’s waist
no larger than senior year of high school

though she fills her plate. She’s only ever
skipped one or two meals. This girl’s not
fucked up, she’s never fucked anyone.
She’s too busy biking to Bible study
and, okay, skipping one or two meals a day
but never more. Everyone knows she doesn’t

lie. Ask her to hang out and she’ll grab a bite
beforehand because her schedule’s tighter
than her pussy, okay? If her body grows,
it’s in reverse, a favorite VCR rewound
until tape catches in the wheels.

Wooden frames where she perches
forever in her Easter dress are thicker
than her wrists. She hangs in her closet
her dress, unstrung, buttons popping
out seams before she’d refuse
a parent’s wish

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.



Gloriously Wicked By Ailey O’Toole

Gloriously Wicked

Coming out feels like a revolution,

feels like       Rome burning,

feels like the first Pride

re-enacted inside my chest.

I say,        “I’m bi,” and a tidal

wave crashes into my mother’s

bedroom. I slip my hand

into yours and all the birds

drop dead.

Coming out feels like thirteen

slammed doors, feels        like

breath held for millenia, feels

like the Stonewall Riots banging

on my ribs.

I say,        “I’m bi,” and my father’s silence

echoes louder than it’s ever been. I kiss

you and all the oceans

dry up.

Coming out is              a leak

that never stops dripping,

rainwater pooling in every crevice.

It is never easy but

it is always glorious.

By Ailey O’Toole


Ailey O’Toole is a queer poet and bartender who writes about feminism, empathy, and pain. She hopes everyone who reads her poems feels less alone in their struggle. Her work has previously appeared in or is forthcoming from After the Pause, Rising Phoenix Review, Ghost City Review, Bone and Ink Press, Okay Donkey, and others. She tweets at @ms_ocoole.