Baby’s Breath – D. Vaisius

flash fiction

Learning someone is like falling. Every moment changing, bringing you closer to something else. A cold, hard ground. But you weren’t the ground. I learned and fell but there was no end. No ground. And so I learned to fly. I haven’t quite figured it out yet. Maybe I’m getting there. Maybe we are so different I’ll never make it. But you will. I look at you and a gentle smile tugs at my insides. There won’t be any yelling this time, or sadness.

You have got my smile and I have a weird thing about your hair. We have fairy lights, candles and nightlights to break up the dark. We have the space we make together through our hands and bodies and voices. We are a knotted mess of pure, experiential love. It sounds like a beautiful secret. I kissed you on the nose. Now rain hits our roof. It’s February and rain is surrounding me. I stain my ears, hoping the sound will not fade away leaving me alone. At least the rain has come. If only for a moment.

I clasped and unclasped my hands anxiously all day. Searching for an anchor in the buzzing hail of nerves that seemed to inexhaustibly fill me. This old house makes bones ache. The silence of the scream in me seems to wrap quieting fingers about my throat and squish. I can hear birds outside. They are twittering away. It’s not quite a hopeful sound yet but it’s one I’ve not heard for a while. The roar of a backhoe as it rips another tree down cuts through. Perhaps that is why the birds seem subdued. I close my eyes and lean back in the rocking chair, breathe in time with you.

D. Vaisius was eight when she first started writing. Since then it has been a quiet, reflective journey through styles and experiences. Writing is probably the only things she doesn’t over think and as such is incredibly important to her happiness.

God as Woman – Shelby Lynn Lanaro

poems

God as Woman

Trust in God – she will provide.
– Emmeline Pankhurst

In kindergarten, I pictured
God for the first time
and He was a woman.

Not because I’m a woman,
and not because
I’m a feminist. Growing up

in church, we prayed
the “Our Father,”
and I still do.

But being raised by a single
mother, who brought me
to church every week,

who taught me
The Commandments
in Sunday School,

and, when I was older,
led my youth group
and confirmation classes,

of course I picture God
as a woman.

Shelby Lynn Lanaro is a graduate student in the MFA program at Southern Connecticut State University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature in 2014. Currently, Shelby is completing her thesis, which is a manuscript of her poems that focuses on various types of relationships. As a narrative poet, Shelby’s work is heavily based on life’s events and strong personalities.

Unearthing Ida – Rose M. Smith

poems

Unearthing Ida
Sinai Grace Hospital, June 2014

Trained hands remove the fabric scrim
slowly, by turns, by shifts, reveal
valley of hip, sloped crag of empty
womb, uncover flesh
the color of desert sand,
landscape eroded to rift and waver,
stark, creased, rippling
where muscle once shaped the dunes.
Help me turn her, the aide requests.
We roll forward pelvic cradle, rib,
outcrop of shoulder, blade, every ridge
a bone peeking through skin, a history

written in this shell once woman.
Ida holds her stroked right arm aloft
as we prop her weight
to let the bedsore breathe.
Morning nurse, blood pressure band,
reaches for the right.
Ida gargles words
behind her stroke-stolen tongue,
over and over, flailing.

Nurse croons an it’s alright song
at strange Ida noise,
pumps the cuff, assumes dementia.
She said use the left, we tell the nurse.
Surprise. Held breath. Apology.

 

Rose M. Smith‘s work has appeared in The Examined Life Journal, Mom Egg Review, pluck! Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, Naugatuck River Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Main Street Rag, The Pedestal Magazine, A Narrow Fellow and other journals and anthologies. She is a Senior Editor with Pudding Magazine, is a Cave Canem fellow, and serves as a contest judge and coach with Ohio Arts Council’s Poetry Out Loud program.

 

Why We Don’t Call – Rebekah Keaton

poems

Why We Don’t Call

This evening after a quick whiskey following the wake
of a colleague (one must shake off death—don’t let
it follow you home, our mother once hissed) you might
revisit the old haunts, sift through the rubble,
divide facts from memory, like glass from paper.

Where we grew up, folks blew open and rattled
against each other. Fights on the front stoops,
neighbors sometimes playing referee, and a little brother
found once kneeling on a back window’s shards of glass.
When you could, you left.  Took the Greyhound
to California, cushioned yourself in the warm lights
of a movie theater and a movie screen kiss, later
slumbered beneath the line drawings your daughter drew:
square house and triangle roof, which your wife framed.

But, this year, even there in the land of milk and honey,
ice blusters in. Harsh, and under the weather, the gutters loosen,
shingles begin to buckle. The industry of keeping a house,
is the same everywhere:

panes sliver palms, blood pulses warm, and the morning asks,
what good does softness do?

Rebekah Keaton’s poetry has appeared in various journals, including PoemMemoirStory, Common Ground Review, Rust + Moth, Blueline, and The Stonecoast Review. She earned her Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University and is associate professor of English at Niagara County Community College, just outside of Niagara Falls. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband and twin boys, lots of snow, and very active puppy.

2 Poems – Jessica Mehta

poems

Recipe for an Indian

How much Indian are you? All of it,
red velvet proofs deep in my solar plexus.
Fry bread thighs undercooked, whipped
merengue cheekbone peaks
and a blackened cut of feather
tattoo marinating over childhood
scars, biopsy stitches and mole seasonings
from a life of willing the cake
burning inside to rise, rise, rise.

 

Look at All the Beautiful

Kept private like our genitals
are supposed to be,
you’ll find the good
trails. The ones nobody
talks about, where blackberry brambles
shoot through old bark chips
like zombie hands and spiders weave
wet threads that lick your face
come dawn. It’s not easy,

keeping quiet. Cradling secrets.
Like children,
they get loud and heavy. They squirm
and you want to drop them, see
their little heads explode like watermelons.

I wanted
to show you, look—

how the trail spread her legs
like a woman unashamed. Choose
your fork and trust. Look
how the creeks and rivers bore
their own way, not giving a damn
for the carnage. See me
here, grinding through the morning
light. And once more, just look, look,

look at all the beautiful.

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is the author of the forthcoming novel The Wrong Kind of Indian by Wyatt-MacKenzie Press. She’s also the author of three collections of poetry by Tayen Lane Publishing including OrygunWhat Makes an Alwaysand The Last Exotic Petting Zoowww.JessicaTynerMehta.com

Blue Water – Natalie Crick

poems

Blue Water

When my Mother dragged me out
I wasn’t cold.

My breath was blued
By the light, seeping through

Trees, black as night
With all that nothing in-between,

Mother already grieving
For the other who drowned.

Tonight the storm broke,
Clouding the colour of

Mother’s necklace with the broken clasp.
The wind whittles your apologies

To blue bone beads
Small enough to swallow.

Natalie Crick from Newcastle in the UK has poetry published in a range of journals including The Lake, Ink Sweat and TearsPoetry PacificInterpreters House and Jet Fuel Review. This year her poem “Sunday School” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

2 Poems – Barbara Black

poems

Faith in a Nordic Country, 1935

In church the Virgin sweats
some portent
that never arrives

The plate is passed
she drops her coin
like a letter hesitantly mailed

Once her ancestors ate
brittle pages
from their hymnals
to survive

She thinks she’d like
to be reborn as a swan

even if the pond
were iced over.

 

The Killing Fields, Cambodia

I stand on bones
of poets. Gone the
bleeding drops of red.
“Somemoney!” child beggars screech
behind the metal fence.
Ghosts, don’t listen. Your
fearful trip is done.

Barbara Black was a 2015 Canadian Authors Association Vancouver Short Story Contest finalist, and semi-finalist for a 2014 Disquiet International Literature scholarship. Her poetry has appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, FreeFall, and Poems from Planet Earth. Other publications include non-fiction in Island Writer, and fiction in The New Quarterly and Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal. She lives in Victoria, BC.

Two Liner Contest

flash fiction, poems

Our birthday is coming up on February 22! (We much prefer birthday rather than “anniversary”.) And we want to celebrate with a little contest! Send us your two line story/poem and win a copy of the Dying Dahlia Review: Winter 2017 ebook.

Rules? There are none. Just send us your very best two lines. We’ll choose the best three and feature them in our upcoming Summer 2017 ebook.

Winners will be announced on (you guessed it) February 22nd. No time to lose! Send us your two line poem/story to DyingDahliaReview@gmail.com or simply #DyingDahlia on Facebook or Twitter. 

Happy Writing!

Recovery – Sneha Subramanian Kanta

poems

Recovery

She wrote in the silence of night –
after pangs of childbirth and gasps
slowly, drinking water, catharsis
escaping her billowy shadow.

Poetry editor for her university magazine INK and a GREAT scholarship awardee, Sneha Subramanian Kanta is pursuing her second postgraduate degree in literature at Plymouth, United Kingdom. Her work has appeared or is to appear in moongarlic (Stoke-upon-Trent, UK), The Rain, Party & Disaster Society (USA) and in poetry anthologies such as Dance of the Peacock (Hidden Brook Press, Canada), Suvarnarekha (The Poetry Society of India, India) and elsewhere.

Letter from the Editor

letter from the editor

January 28, 2017

Dear Readers,

This letter comes a bit delayed and for good reason.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately how I, the editor of a women’s literary journal, would address the current events happening here in the United States.  To not address it would be unfair to you and to myself.

First let me say this: I know there are women who are on both sides of these issues. Those who are strongly against Trump, and those who are with him. There are women who marched (or wanted to) and there were those who had no interest.  I know there are women who are pro life and many who are pro choice.  But let me say this-

The beauty of being a woman (or a human for that matter) is that we get to choose.   And no matter what, the power to choose is one of the greatest powers of all.   But.  If you choose hate or cruelty or discrimination or abuse, be prepared.  Because I believe that women (and again, people in general) are filled with a lot more love and compassion then they are given credit for these days.

Here at Dying Dahlia Review, we welcome all voices with the exception of voices filled with hate and discrimination and cruelty.  We do not have the patience or tolerance for those who choose to spend their lives being cruel to one another.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, their own thoughts and views.   But being that as it may, we believe in empowering women – hearing their voices and stories and sharing their art.  I wouldn’t have started this journal if I didn’t believe that women’s voices are amazing and unique.

So here is my plea to you:  I want to hear your voice.  More now than ever.  Dying Dahlia Review  wants to hear voices from all women: women of color, women from the LGBTQ community, women from around the world, and above all, women who have something profound to say.

With all that being said, our submissions have opened for our 2nd ebook, the Summer 2017 edition.  So send us your very best poetry, flash fiction and art. Check out our guidelines for complete details.

I’ll leave you with these words by Maya Angelou.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

Keep love in your heart.  And keep creating.

Much love,

Abbie Copeland
Editor