Hive Sisters – Devon Balwit


Hive Sisters

So many of us, clamoring,
          mitosis gone scarily awry,

all eager to excel, careening
          toward podia, wrestling for

trophies, the swing of our medals
          raising blue bruises

between our breasts.  Trained
          to reach high, we are

forever reaching, hands straining
          upwards like saplings

from our desks, their hectic rustle
          annoying our teachers.

Even in sleep, our arms scrabble
          the headboard. But amongst us,

we do not compete. Like hive sisters,
          one’s success is that of all,

our grins genuine, each glistening
          with royal jelly.  We know

others find us insufferable, wishing
          to smack us down,

but we are too many.  We dance
          the joy of our success

to one another, each stomp and circle
          pointing to the next.

Our procession to and fro ribbons
          our DNA like a gift.

(after Cristina Troufa’s Trophy)

Devon Balwit is a teacher/poet from Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks: how the blessed travel (Maverick Duck Press) & Forms Most Marvelous (forthcoming with dancing girl press). Her work has found many homes, some of which are: The Inflectionist Review, The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Red Earth Review, Timberline Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry.

*Note: The poem was inspired by Cristina Troufa’s Trophy.  You can see Cristina’s art here.

God as Woman – Shelby Lynn Lanaro


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


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


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


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

Blue Water – Natalie Crick


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.

Fallen – Sarah Clayville



Lately I’ve been falling apart, not into pieces but into places,

locales I avoid as if I’m a soldier careening over our memories like landmines.

Because wars and love never really end. Instead they wither down

to infinitesimal fragments that are meaningless without context or clues,

impossible to wash away or pry from our pores or the synapses of our brains.

So I skip our cafe and sidestep the homeless woman who witnessed our dissolution,

creeping home at night to extract those millions of tiny moments and try

to piece them back together again in hopes of a truce.

Sarah Clayville is a high school teacher and freelance editor in Central Pennsylvania. An assistant editor for both Identity Theory and Mothers Always Write, her fiction and poetry can be found in The Threepenny Review, StoryChord, Literary Orphans, 1:1000, and other journals. Visit for other works and her blog, on writing.

Peace – Lisha Ruan



the pitchfork the shovel
the orphan teaches himself
to make hats

unpickle the octaves
the grandmother’s needles
go click clack
knitting a silver ear

how cold your house is
a gauzy butterfly curls in on
itself in a bathtub
the parade the uniforms

never forget
that the wolfskin is but a cover
for a sheep
more terrifying

Lisha Ruan is a Computer Science major and writer at Princeton University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Jersey Devil Press, By&By Poetry, and Sweet Tree Review. In her free time, she likes learning languages and playing Avalon. She grew up in Rockville, Maryland.


2 Poems – Alicia Hoffman


This Haunting We Know

by the way our mother speaks a salt language,
sharpens her blade on our tongues, sings a lullaby

so cutting when we meet the spirits of the children
we were meant to be the song on the street is charged

as a choreography. By the way we do not need
the milkweed bursting like cloud when winds blow

and we are only seeds caught in the net of our own
drifting. Piece by splintered piece the fleece of our bones

breaks apart, sifts like silt through the air, by the way we
share slumber only with the sheep, dream of jumping

off the cliff near the yard we grew to fear, too near
the cemetery ghosts who joked with father nights

whiskey flowed thick as blood through his veins, nights
fists iron-pumped the walls, hit like small bombs,

by the way spring continues even now, somersaulting
the grass, by the way we wish this will all blow over,

these hauntings of the past, drifting in thin as dust motes
to settle like filaments of lead in the corners of the house.



Asafoetida. As in not knowing what it meant.
The way I said crick, not creek, unapologetically

peeked into other people’s windows on long walks
down the street right when dusk fell soft as silt

through a glass two story house—when lights
came on but drapes were not yet drawn

how I craved to insert myself into the family
tableaux. That was the same summer I kept

a journal counting all the numbers I knew.
I wished to only keep going forward.

To discover anything infinite and mine.
That was the same summer I ate a whole box

of orange freeze pops—arranged an entire rack
on my legs as I lay in a bunk consuming

The Babysitter’s Club—as they melted into slush
I’d scissor-snip them one by one. Slurp them up.

Now, I only remember I sometimes wanted to be
Christy, but mostly I envied Dawn. Flowers

in her hair. Friday night football games. Fireflies
in jars. That first kiss. That time I was so sick

with want I carved I love Bobby into the headboard
so many times I could squint my eyes together

and see hard through the grains of wood filtering
soft August light right into the future of another life.

Alicia Hoffman is the author of Like Stardust In The Peat Moss (Aldrich Press, 2013). Her recent poems can be found in Word Riot, Radar Poetry, Redactions, One Throne Magazine, SOFTBLOW, Hermeneutic Chaos, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.

Letter from the Editor


Here we are.  The year is coming to an end.  And it has been a wonderful year for us, here at Dying Dahlia Review.

I am so grateful for you.  All of you.  The contributors, those who submitted work to us and of course, the readers.

To those who submitted and weren’t accepted, we know your work will find a perfect home.  Don’t stop writing and don’t stop submitting.  The world needs more writers.  Probably more now than ever.

To those who contributed, we are honored to have showcased your work on our site and in the ebook.  Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey.

And to the readers, thank you for subscribing and following along to great work every week.  Without you, there would be no reason to keep going.

We have big plans for 2017, so please, stay tuned.  And keep those submissions coming.  We are taking a break this month (December) from posting any work.   If you haven’t heard already, we published our first ebook collection, the Winter 2017 edition of Dying Dahlia Review.  Click here to find out how to get yourself a copy.  We are really proud to be featuring such great work by some very talented ladies.  We know you’ll like it.  So buy a copy for yourself.  And perhaps another one for a literary lover.  🙂

So from all of us here at Dying Dahlia Review, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year.  Please join us next year as we continue to grow and feature great work by women writers and artists.

Much love,

Abbie Copeland