Matthew DeMarco

you put a light in there to fix it, you see, and then it all just happens to come together,     right


what if water hadn’t wet
you never think like I don’t know
this isn’t all of it, obviously, other words
2a.m. can’t stop the hollow din of any way up
cast glow over oozing bathroom sink scum ring faucet
you never holler never dim never 2a.m. strum in water show




                                                               h                                                      er








“shut your fucking mouth”




Into the utterances of seeming German-time feeling guilty. Blood stolen blood spilt in the fabricated latchkey and truncated nether heather.
an interrogative like
what the what where
dresses made of leaves
and all of these birds
stitched into the ridges
of a ’95 Dodge Camry
owned by a grandfatherless
clock destined for Puget
sounds found long in the oak
stark white brilliance and
here goes an uninterrupted thought
what about not murdering somebody for just trying to get away from you?
even that loses its time
to the withered shins lined up
toward ember dodge and plastic
bodega rearing cockatiel spandrels
in motion toward a train bound
to a master he doesn’t love
and who doesn’t love him
not a bit, bub
but what about it 27
mostly numbered by what
I ate for lunch but
I don’t think in terms
of meals these days
and pretty much anywhere
I go I’d prefer to travel
by intercity bus, you dig?
You sliver into a column granite-wide and lonely from its grayscale before wondering what exactly I mean by you, and here I mean you, and I don’t want to take you away but just talk awhile boneheaded in amber twilight book-sky missing the point brought daring and devilish into the parlor to rest on phonograph missing the hand crank whose cubbyhole has in it only one sea foam green dinosaur sponge named Henry, about five inches tall, two inches wide, and flat—a half-inch deep.


Matthew DeMarco is a writer, editor, and educator living in Chicago. He is a recipient of the Eileen Lannan Poetry Prize, for which his work has appeared on His poems can also be found in Opossum and Columbia Poetry Review. Drop him a line at

Olivia Murphy

When the Head Lolls Back

I watch the eyes eyes transfigure to tapestry, 
something nebulous accumulating over the oracle
at Delphi. Danger girl. Her body a vessel for trouble,
smoke prophet, supple as Persephone or swarms
of Sirens and the effervescent 

gargle. Dear Diary,
she writers, things are strange
She feels like taxidermy, glass eyeballs, ears pierced
with fishhooks, a fell swoop and computer-tune
disco, wetting her whistle on gin
and slim kisses. He told her that her name

sounded like the last chord warbling into
the darkened room-scape, Zeus at lamplight
limply holding her hips and the holy voice
enveloping the Earth’s curvature, lurking
in the snake holes and the groundhog
hideaways. Dear diary, she writes,

things are still strange. The water wobbling
to boil, the wandering inside that house
of nude tumult, the way it latches
on to the body as well as the dream. 

I see her and think: once, at prom, I ate bone marrow
on toast and felt like the iron ore. 
Once, I thought: I’ll miss a boy’s freckles
but not how I had to cut off
my hands each time we reached rapture. How I let my eyes
attach to every street sign, names of
quarry (like Vulcan, Nordic) and semi-
truck, feeling the perpetual texture
of each letter, then
wholeness, letting the whisper whip from lip.


One road diverges
into two horses. The sun
forgets it is almost
Thanksgiving and lasers
through the windshield
and onto your lap. 

Heedless, metal fishtails
and is beached
by firm father guard
rail. Here are the horses

because the road
is gone. The first: 
your body diminished
to inanimate meat.

You enter the ghost
kingdom in a puff
of gunpowder. Voice
wiped off like chalk. 

The second: you emerge
on bum foot and sprained
ankle into the grass and begin

memorizing the folds
of your crumpled armor. You
sigh. The horse
carries you back
to me. Your vessel
vanishes into a pixel
of lost coin
behind you. 

A modeled goose-
egg bruise on your breast
is the signature
of an escape artist.
For you, applause,

the reaper dreamed
of spooning up cream
but watched
the surface undisturbed.

Still Life with Peyote

Rachel takes
the pills in handfuls
of five, then
begins placing
them on spoonfuls
of strawberry
Yoplait until

the cactus spines extrude
from her stomach
and braid
with vertebrae;

outside, the headlights
against doom plum
clouds begin to look
like amputated

eyes, red and then
green like
a decision, flicking
bug from knuckle.

She hopes
to make her boyfriend
look less like
a bird and more

like a nest, locking
in on his wiry hair, 

an image secondary
to her body curled
like a jumbo shrimp

on the tile
at the base
of the sink, 
wishing only

for the minute
dunes of shadow
rippling her bed-
sheets like

whipped cream. 
Her breath
against the linoleum
sounds like

the ocean. Even
and grand. 

The mind
shrinks back
to a brown
acorn, or dumb

black rosette
blooming, tides of blood
subside, still
as a swimming

Nicholas Reiner

Elegy in Time

This is elegy
in time of wind
elegy in time of war
elegy in time of peace
elegy at one
elegy of two
elegy in time of sorrow
elegy in time of happiness
elegy in the hours before
and the hours after
elegy among friends
elegy at a bonfire
elegy on a wave at Sunset Beach
elegy on a Friday getting faded
elegy during a fireworks show
elegy at Disneyland
elegy in time of triumph
elegy in all time

Yes, this is elegy
in time of war
elegy in time of peace
elegy in winds
elegy in sun
elegies for sons
elegy in time of need
elegy in time of sorrow
elegy in time of triumph
elegy in several parts
No, elegy in seven parts
elegy forever
elegy never
elegy when

elegy in seven parts:

     1. we say his name: Eric

     2. we do not say his name enough

     3. we sold his car

     4. his car smelled bad 

     5. where is his car?

     6. I can’t remember his scent

     7. what would he think of me now?


The uncovered garden in the middle
of the hospital’s locked ward
fields sky light all day. 

We go out for an hour each afternoon,
to walk. I step into the garden,

my mind uninhabitable. 
It is a gift to walk outside, even
if it is still walking inside.

My running shoes smush well-cut grass.
I touch yellow flowers,
smell mid-afternoon June air.

Vitruvius wrote of the hypaethral
opening, how the center of a temple
could be roofless,
open to the king of the gods.

Self-Portrait as Messenger of God

On my walk home from Intro to Psychology the idea continued to consume my mind: I am a prophet. During class, I’d been scribbling notes in my blue notebook about my place in the world, talking inwardly with myself: I am a prophet. No, you are not a prophet. Yes, you are a prophet, but you can’t tell anybody you are, for a prophet has to be humble. God doesn’t want you to speak of your status as prophet.

 I decided earlier that week I’d be writing a book that would change the world. I wouldn’t put my name on it, though. I’d pass it around like a resistance pamphlet and pretend I’d found it somewhere. Nowhere in the book would it say the author’s name. I didn’t know all of what being a prophet would require but I knew this was part of it.    

    Later, after I had stopped going to class, I draped a rosary around my neck like finishing a shrine. I couldn’t stop crying, overcome with grief (mourning what, I couldn’t say). I said to my roommate, I know how Frodo felt as he carried the ring into Mordor! I slept little before they took me to the hospital and wrote many words in my notebooks those days—most of which, while illegible and nonsensical now, were divinely rendered then.


Nicholas Reiner is a poet in the MFA program at University of California, Irvine. His work has appeared at Orange Coast Review, The Ear, and He lives in Santa Monica, CA with his wife.


Christian Sammartino

Kingdom of Vanishing

Stay at the theme park late enough to watch
workers flip of the million beaming bulbs
on the carousels and the roller coasters.

Sit in your car as every face masquerades
in darkness, when there is only a crowd in communion
and no one to claim the paper crown. 

Reflections cease to shine on car hoods
and parking lot puddles of Coca-Cola.
Superheroes remove long capes of shadow. 

Carnival music from the carousels abdicates
resonance, replaced by a wordless anthem, 
with lyrics I forgot I knew by heart. 

Light I cannot name immerges from the crowd,
whispers out into the world, embraces all life—
suddenly, we are all one body, infinite bliss. 

Faceless royalty, monarchy of none,
rule by the people, unified by joy, 
strangers holding hands in the streets. 

Love is not an extraterrestrial myth
hovering above the cruelty of earth—
we are love; we are here to heal everything. 

Headlights awaken—the moment scatters
like millions of embers extinguishing, 
flickering into a space beyond touch. 

Where did all the light migrate after the switch?
God, did it refract into the place my childhood
hid after the ache began to gnaw my marrow? 

Wonder threatens to escape me like a puncture
in the neck of a balloon animal. I apply pressure
to the wound and repeat small mercies. 

The light vanishes from me faster than my
hands can jut up into the air to snatch it back,
but the thrill of the search propels me forward. 

After the Rapture

This is the kind of night we'd break
into the mall parking garage and stargaze
constellations from the rooftop, 

because they explode like fireworks, 
burning more brilliantly then our fear, 
even as they die light-years away. 

I can smell the good weed on your jacket,
see you blowing smoke in the eyes of security
cameras so guards can't see your face.

Witnessing our breath leave our bodies
rapidly freezing and thawing, tempting
impermanence, reminds us we are still alive.

You and I aren't all closed casket memories
and eulogies yet—we can see all the roads
ranning out of town into the body of the world.

You watch the traffic lights flash green,
swearing they will be more than quiet
signals to your graveyard shift soul.

One day you will cruise beneath their spotlight,
full tank of gas, heart pumping one-way wanderlust, 
flip off our hometown in the rear view mirror. 

Where did you go after the gaslighting?
Did you shed your skin into a dumpster until
there was nothing left to collect?

You owned the shape of your disappearance, 
like fog evaporating from a windshield, 
the most precious gift since your hospital blanket. 

I'm talking to myself again, like this tin can
telephone has the signal to reach your ears, 
if only to say all the lights in town are green.

I miss you, my blood, my sister.
drive with the wind in your hair, drive until
you are the stranger, until you are visible.

George Bailey Lassos The Moon For Me

After asking what kind of miracle it would take
to keep me from vacating this earth, what I need
tonight to make sure I see the New Year. 

George loops the rope around my waist,
hoists me up above the waterline so I can't
quietly sneak beneath the oblivion of the surface.

He uses the moon as a counterweight to keep
me from drowning in the lake, anchors me
so I don't drift into the next world. 

George throws me a life preserver
I don’t want tonight—the note is written.
My pockets are weighted with fist sized stones

I am ready to sink like the titanic, flood
my lungs with ice water, reverse brain function
until I reach bottom of the Atlantic black. 

But George knows how to save a life.
Believes that survival is not just for pretend
or reserved for movie stars and big screens.

All of the church bells in town toll
the hour and a chorus of angels with new wings
joins George in his tug-of-war. 

He brings me back from the dead
like Jesus breathed life back into Lazarus.

George calls everyone I love,
tells them I'm alive—he has all the right
words for what happened when I don’t.

He says I'll be on my way home soon.
Everyone will get the chance to hug me.
Yes, he will wait with me until they arrive.

And he holds my hand by the water
as the moon drifts above us like a guardian. 
I know I’m not alone, I know I’m safe.

I love you George—my friend, my savior.
Thank you for restoring wonder to my world
and life to my body when I couldn't accept either.

Christian Sammartino is the Editor-In-Chief of Rising Phoenix Review and the Poetry Editor for L'Éphémère Review. He is currently studying Philosophy at West Chester University. His poetry is influenced by life in the Pennsylvania Rustbelt near his hometown of Coatesville. His work has appeared in Words Dance Publishing, Voicemail Poems, Sea Foam Mag, Lehigh Valley Vanguard, and Yellow Chair Review. Sammartino was a Resident Poet for Lehigh Valley Vanguard during the summer of 2015. His first chapbook, Keystones, was released by Rising Phoenix Press in December 2014.

Kiira Walsh

{and now,,,,the weather}

You’ll find that urban sensibility
is the only way to fully understand
what it is like to get lost in a grid. 
On January 31st the neighborhood was flooded in bong water.
I wore my cherry rain boots and my socks were wet with stress. 
I walked to Bangkok while my city soaked in rice. 
I suppose I’ll return when I spend
all my dance moves
or when my muscles are replaced with
Marlboros and noodles.


Gravitas in the final word,
I’m laying belly to the carpet
plucking the fibers from the stitched cavities.
Crumbs of commercial junk food populate the rug. 
My fingertips inspecting the follicles
realizing my responsibility for
the conditions of this floor. 
I fray the tips between my nails.
I hear the carpet scream. 
The floor had January through March all over it. 
I invested in a used vacuum and
sucked you up.


Sleep Year

The dream begins at 1:00pm.
The dream is tangly and the dream is of me thinking in color. 
The dream is a waste of R.E.M. 
Working the occupation of gaining lost time. 
The dream is wrapped in thick blur and layered obscurity.
A picnic in an abandoned corner store, 
a crumpled glass, 
snacking on dandelions, 
swings hanging in an atrium,
an isolated staircase to nowhere in the backyard, 
a microphone in a pillow case,
romanticized linens,
lychee skins scatter the kitchen countertop.
The dream is 80% rose quarts and 20% serenity depending on your color blindness and year association. 

I woke up on the other side of sleep with a leg in my head
and a lemon breaking through my window without shattering glass
and these eyeballs exchanging places with the other
orbiting that sack of brain en route to their reassigned docking stations. 
Refraining from detaching each stringy optic nerve.
Circuiting behind my eyelids, disked windows oscillate wide and narrow
then cook in a muslin bag. 
Scenes are steeped into my memory
then cut with milk
for unconscious murk. 

I am the seamstress. 
I wake up thick from a year of sleep. 
I drink the wine
to cleanse myself of this year.

Kiira Walsh is a postmodernist-land-mermaid who occasionally writes poetry. Kiira likes gin and denim. Kiira is a BA Journalism candidate at the University of Denver and can be found found posting on the web as @kdoubleeye.


Zachary Cosby

Short Poems

A purple yoga mat left unrolled all morning

Tapping the hearts between photographs

Like a dark mood your push notifications engulf me


Nike Run Club and the murmur of a playground in yew trees

I press my ear to its mouth and know 

The world has a secret code which is almost always silent


I was eating kimchi and rice in a cool park breeze

He was showing off a muscle in his outer right wrist

As you talk, the lip gloss starts shim-shim-shimmering


From bed the sound of Phillip Glass, a crowd of children playing hopscotch, and you counting each         breath slowly

The black laptop screen catches sunlight and I remember

Clear green bottles that stubble our rooftop each night.


I stumble through a pedestrian alley at midnight

With a can of green plum juice in each hand

I just feel like an empty elephant, a clumsy something that paws at treetops as it floats through the         sky.


I open a new tab and search for Patterns In A Chromatic Field

Still filled with self-anger to have liked your GoFundMe but not clicked the link

I walk around the apartment and press my forehead against the wall


Is the relationship between aroma and love 

The same as to memory?

I stood in the shower with that bar of lavender soap


Letters from Mark and Alma bang into my afternoon

Breathing in that cool taste, like water

I wanted to be at your wedding but the feeling was banished


In the bathhouse at Trumpworld, the news feed was shapeless

A speech at the DMZ, a death in Boston

The television grew bigger between clouds of steam rising


Brown jumbo eggs draped across the pan

A New Girl streaming 

As your body shakes with quiet headphoned laughter

Zachary Cosby was born in Oregon and lives in the Republic of Korea. He edits Fog Machine. 


Seth Jani


He confounds himself with the way
The water moves in circles,
With the landscape that has no philosophy
But goes about its business
Moving silt and leaf mold.
He doesn’t understand how
The unreflecting birds aren’t
Amazed by their invention of flight,
How the wind leaves no signature
In the nocturnal reeds,
How even the ocean fills
With anonymous color. 
The book, he thinks, will never close
Because the author can’t be tracked
Or cataloged.
In the marsh, where the remains
Of animals combust in silence,
A green autonomous fire burns for days.



Kinesis of light
Comes down
And opens gutters
In the rocks.
Through the passage
A thin god
Lifts a yellow flower
And someone turns to stone.
Fifteen centuries later
A surveyor finds the stone
And falls in love.
He gazes at it for hours,
Has it lugged from the mountain
To a larger room inside his house.
He paints it shades of fuchsia,
Draws two mysterious eyes mid-surface.
They glow like bee-stings.
He goes crazy over the stone
Whose gravity pulls his
Whole life around it.
Eventually he chisels it open
To find a strange, petrified body.
He dresses it in a yellow dress
And calls it Grace.


The Philosopher

Not once did he carry the stone
Past the landscape’s inner margin.
Beyond it, the sea jettied out
And the world dissolved. 
He had been tasked with building
A bridge between abysses,
To graph the origin of light.
But the edges were insurmountable
And his heart itself favored mountains.
The one rumored thing to have passed
The vanishing point was a small bird
Named Extinction. But it hadn’t been seen
For centuries, and the organ that perceived it
Had been replaced by the robot’s eyes.


Seth Jani currently resides in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress ( His own work has been published widely in such places as The Chiron Review, El Portal, The Hamilton Stone Review, Hawai`i Pacific Review, VAYAVYA, Gingerbread House, Gravel and Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. More about him and his work can be found at


Ronald Pelias

Waterfall Cosmology

Once, long ago, the great waterfalls
      of the world gathered beside
         a great lake and decided,
           by unanimous vote, to
                invent the word


Ronald Pelias' work has appeared in a number of journals, including Midwest Poetry Review, Coal City Review, Poetry East, and Negative Capability. His most recent books, Leaning: A Poetics of Personal Relations (Left Coast Press/Routledge), and Performance: An Alphabet of Performative Writing (Left Coast Press/Routledge), and If the Truth Be Told (Sense Publications) call upon the poetic as a research strategy.

Hannah Nathanson

Intergalactic Boredom

When we are frozen
in the maple syrup strings
of “love”,
of mapquest misadventure,
of too much ice in the Pepsi,
of make-believe gun-shot wounds
or the level of Witcher you can’t beat,
When our intestines seep through
our big toes and take root
in backyard soil and Dairy Queen parking lots,
When we become sedentary
in intergalactic boredom,
I promise I will still take all the wrong turns. 


Self Portrait in the Form of a Self Portrait

this is a self portrait in the form of a self portrait. which is to say this is a self portrait in the form of the dog that lived two houses down from you growing up. the one named Skippy or Fluffy. the one you watched Mr. Green run over in his Chevrolet 454SS. or if it wasn’t Mr. Green in the early 90s it was Mrs. Leek in a Honda Odyssey as she was rushing to the soccer fields for carpool. (Mrs. Leek was perpetually late for carpool). or if  it wasn’t Mrs. Leek it was me. probably in my brother’s car on the way to Target last Tuesday. or if it wasn’t my  brother’s car, it was me with my hands strangling Lassie until her eyes popped out of her head like a chew toy. (if this wasn’t a metaphor someone would probably be worried about me). which is to say when I look in the mirror all I find is black paint and smeared makeup. which is to say I cannot make a self portrait because someone turned all the glass around and all I have come to know is the industrial metal. which is to say I only know what my house looks like because of Google earth. which is to say I only know I have ears because my mom bought me BEATS headphones. 


Hannah Nathanson’s poetry has been published in Canvas Literary Journal, Wordplay, Speak Your Mind & Shape Your World, and Peach Mag as well as several self-produced zines. She lives in Buffalo, where she attends City Honors High School and acts as a Youth Ambassador for the Just Buffalo Writing Center.

C. T. McGaha

Sprout and the Bean, pt. II

an important thing
to remember
is everyone
deals with depression
like sometimes
i lay in the bath
until the water is cold
and listen to joanna newsom
while my cat sleeps
on the windowsill
in the bedroom
and Zoë is at work.
and sometimes
i have to go to work
and make jokes
and talk to people.
and sometimes
it helps to get out
and make jokes
and talk to people.
but most times
i just count
the coffee cups
i hand to customers
while shooting the shit
about their kids and jobs
that they have to go to
and make jokes
and talk to people
and i try to see
how many coffee cups
there are
until i can go home
and start the bathwater
and search for the speaker's
charging cable, disrobing.


C.T. McGaha is a writer from Charlotte, NC. Their work has been featured in Hobart, Juked, 90s Meg Ryan and other literary journals. They're also the author of the chapbook, GUTTERBOY RIDES AGAIN (Ursus Americanus Press, 2017).


J. Bradley


Carl used a fresh stick every time he wanted to pretend I was a snook after school; the drought and the fish kills in the Indian River made it hard to do any real fishing. I was afraid what Carl would do if he ever caught me. “You should always eat what you catch,” my father taught me. I wasn’t sure if Carl would take things far enough where he would open me up and pull my guts out, then my bones, then carve up what was left.

After everyone went to bed, I crept to the bathroom with the biggest mirror, and stripped down. Carl left a bruise shaped like Utah on my chest this time. I pulled out the hydrogen peroxide, tipped it far enough to dab a Q-Tip in it. I winced as I swabbed the bruise, the hydrogen peroxide fizzing, becoming milky against the wound. I wondered if the broken blood vessels beneath the bruise could pray what would those prayers be. I joined them, asked the ceiling to convince Carl to throw me back into an ocean of dirt if he ever caught me.

J. Bradley is the author of The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016) and Pick How You Will Revise A Memory (Robocup Press, 2016). He lives at


Peggy Liuzzi

When All Seems Dark

Turn the Tarot cards.
The Queen of Cups spills tears. Death
trembles for the Fool.

Dream of your childhood
home. Conjure up the spirits
who whisper there still.

In your empty bed
chant past lovers’ names aloud, 
a sweet rosary.

Wakeful at midnight,
wait.  On moonless nights, even
the heart hesitates.

Peggy Liuzzi has lived in Syracuse, NY since 1965 and is a graduate of Syracuse University. She is retired from a long career as a teacher, advocate and director in the early childhood field.

Reece Rogers

Email to James

Tapping my thumbs against
lit glass. I need no dystopian
prophet to foresee what’s
in front of our eyes.

Fuck Orwell. Fuck Atwood. Fuck Idiocracy.

Read me James Baldwin shirtless
on the balcony. Teach me about
Compton’s Cafeteria rioting. Listen to
my shitty Ginsberg impersonation. Revel
together in the strength of Sylvia Rivera.

Reece Rogers is an undergraduate student at the University of Kansas. This summer they were a publishing fellow with the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Milo Gallagher

Boy Seagull

Come, sit with me in the dunes,
chew on some pickleweed, and watch the bird boy –

small-boned, soft-breasted, wheeling
in the spindrift. A boy who hatched in blue half-light, 

out of the seeming-nowhere, from an egg as round and perfect
as every night that doesn’t leave you wanting.

Look, his feet are scorched
from hopping down the boardwalk at noon. 

This boy will not mind if we dream up his story -- 
he has long been doing the same. Can you imagine it? 

Alone, the boy suffered the lonesome growing
of pin feathers, the new cracks in his gull-cry.  

No longer content shattering
periwinkle shells against stone, he left the nest

in search of rubies. So far it’s all been
bottlecaps, rose-colored sea glass. Who knows 

when he’ll stop circling? All day, bird boy
keeps watch on the wave-break,

and on his brothers, screaming at tourists
for their sandy potato chips.

From this rocky shore, he seems to have
something shiny in his beak. Maybe the pull tab 

from a can of Orange Crush, but let’s say
it’s a moonstone.

The Labyrinth


The Minotaur loves Halloween, the one time of year his horns and shaggy haunches
make sense. He gets hired seasonally to scare children at the center of a hay bale maze.
It’s much more fun than his regular gig, and since he stopped bellowing so much, 
the parents hardly ever get upset anymore. The air smells like bonfire and possibility. 
He sips his complimentary hot cider and waits. Sometimes the kids take pictures with him
after the hay ride and the haunted house. They ask him where he got his costume
and he just laughs. Walks home through a field of warty pumpkins. Home right now
is the Moonbeam Motel, where fake palm trees fringe the leaf-littered pool. He wakes
to continental breakfast, stale coffee, all the trappings of another precious day aboveground.


Milo Gallagher's poems appear or will soon appear in The Kenyon Review, The Grief Diaries, The Fem, Crab Fat Magazine, Potluck Magazine, and Anomaly. He is an MFA candidate at Mills College. You can follow him on twitter @miloemilyg.