Category Archives: Poetry

2014 Best of the Net Nominees

We are thrilled to announce our 2014 Nominees for Best of the Net! Congrats to all you top-shelf word slingers & much gratitude for submitting your loveliness to Words Dance! Best of luck & love to all of you!


Lungs We Share
by Amelie Florence Neese
(Words Dance 17)


Independence Day
by Chelsea Coreen
(Words Dance 17)


by Megan Falley
(Words Dance 16)


Cuatro Mujeres (Four Women)
by Sarah Myles Spencer
(Words Dance 17)


My Fathers’ Africa
by Tanaka Mhishi
(Words Dance 17)


Sunday Afternoon at the Brown Jug
by William Taylor Jr.
(Words Dance 17)


To learn more about the Best of the Net Anthology click here, find them on Facebook here & to connect with all of Sundress Publications’ greatness click here . Thank you for all you do for the arts!

Ghosts by Nemena Soleil

Plenty of ghost stories exist,
but none ever experienced by me.
The most recent was after
the third one went, because
for some reason, the elderly always
die in threes; within weeks of each other.

In the nursing home, she closed
her eyes for the last time, and
the grandfather clock she had in her
room was so grieved at the thought,
that it keeled over; glass shattering;
having nothing left in this cruel world without her.

Nemena Soleil

I have an Associate’s Degree in Creative Writing. I am continuing my education this fall at Elmira College in Elmira, New York.

2 Poems by Lori DeSanti

Light in the Fig Root

I’ve learned that figs hold life
like a vein; imperfect symmetry
when a tiny blade splits it in two.

I watch you pull raw flesh with
your teeth, hold fuchsia seeds on
your tongue, skin coming apart

in your hands. Like all things,
there are layers— but it is never
the outer one we’re searching for.

Hands of a Sun Clock

We sat Indian style
on a plot of land that stretched for miles
over Pennsylvania plane

pulling rusted nails from barn wood—
one by one by one,
sweat sliding down our spines,
dry hay imprinting into the back of our thighs.

He tucked straw into my hair,
white tees soaked in heat, our
mouths finding water in the drought.

He kneaded hands into my skin as if
it was a field that needed working. We
lay under the withering roof waiting for night,

for our bodies to be cool to the touch,
for Katydids to whisper, You outran the sun.

Lori DeSanti

Lori DeSanti is an MFA Candidate for Poetry at Southern Connecticut State University. Her other works are featured or forthcoming in Paddlefish, Adanna Literary Journal, Mouse Tales Press, Wicked Banshee Press, Extract(s) LIterary Journal, Drunk Monkeys, East Coast Literary Review, Winter Tangerine Review, Mojave River Review and elsewhere. She is the recent winner of the 2014 William Kloefkorn Award, a 2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee and a 2014 Best of the Net Nominee.

Fossilization by Kevin Casey

Our blood-soaked bones 
grow fossilized at night; 

while we sleep,
something particulate,
suspended, seeps
through membranes, 

settles deep
within those posts and knobs
of gleaming ivory.

The soft, surrounding 
tissues ossify,
calcified deposits 
sprout and bloom

in organs, spread 
their chalky webs until 
we’re statuesque, inured.

And then it’s just the waiting
for erosion’s slow exposure,
the sweep and chip
of brush and pick:

cataloged and set
in some eventual display, 
we’re cordoned off 
by stanchions of brass 
and velvet rope.

Kevin Casey

I’m a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and received my graduate degree at the University of Connecticut. My work has been accepted by The Orange Room Review, The Milo Review, Small Print Magazine, Tule Review, Turtle Island Review, The Monarch Review, and others. I currently teach literature at a small university in Maine, where I enjoy fishing, snowshoeing and hiking.

Splitting the Night by Rachel Malis

As it falls, the rain is a knife for vision
& it does not exclude us,
stripping the shafts of my hairs,
my fingernails from their beds.

We try to sleep to distract ourselves
but before falling off, I picture
parts inside of me peeling away:
my ribs pulling back from their lungs,
blood from the veins, water from that blood.
He said, look at me & it was impossible,
my eyes seeing the brick & trees in infinite pieces,
the blackness boxing itself up behind him,
taking the roofs and the windows with it,
all of this—how could I look.

The night has become clear,
but still something is falling—
which made me wonder
what he thought of my eyes,
why he needed me to face him,
& if it matters
who does the tearing down.

Rachel Malis

I currently live in Washington, DC with my fiancé and two strange cats. I have my masters in fine arts (in poetry) from Arizona State University. It was a really trippy, dusty, desert ride but it got me these poems (and a lot of other things). By day I’m in disguise as a fundraiser for a nonprofit and I sell knits on etsy. I pride myself in being one of the only poets in the world who wears a watch.

Updates from Words Dance!

Hey there, I hope this finds you lovely & sound! I wanted to share a handful of nuggets with you this morning! But first, you may have noticed that we’ve been a little quiet this summer but I promise it’s for good reason. As some of you know, I’m a mama & my boys have been home all summer, so things have been kind of lax around here in the Words Dance department (as they should be) but here’s to the new school year & Words Dance kickin’ it up a few notches!

The Nuggets:


As of two weeks ago we changed the format for the magazine. We will posting accepted poetry on the website on a weekly basis instead of in a traditional magazine format. Jessica Dawson (one of our ever-awesome editors) has been reading & selecting poems, & will continue to do so for a bit! You can check out the poem & the poet that kicks off this ongoing party here! You can read the guidelines & submit your work here! Have you signed up for our love notes yet? If so, you will be receiving notice from us every time we post a new poem.


We are also taking submissions for the highly-anticipated second volume of Literary Sexts – read all about that here!


If you preordered the Poem Your Heart Out book rest assured that we are working on it! With over 60 people involved in its publication & it being the first go around for everyone connected, it’s taking a wee bit longer than we anticipated. Robert has been posting the finalists & winners as he receives them here though, look for it in the Fall!


 Our next 3 books are doozies!

  • The first being the start of a series of Split Books! Because it’s the first of this series I decided to team up with Zach Fishel, friend + fellow poet, & work on one with him. Zach & I grew up 30 miles from each other but met through poetry as adults. We were raised in the Appalachian region of Western Pennsylvania surrounded by coal mines, sawmills, two-bit hotel taverns, farms, churches and cemeteries. These poems explore that region & what’s it’s like to grow up hemmed in by an area’s economic struggle from both a male & female perspective. We mine it all, life, love, longing & death — & we’re stoked to release it soon! If you made it this far, well thank you, love & here’s a sneak peek at the cover art for you!

  • We’ve been working on Ashe Vernon’s debut collection, Belly of the Beast, this collection is all guts & heart, smart but accessible, & all of it is balanced so damn beautifully. We are putting the finishing touches on it now & can’t wait to get it into your hands!

  • We will be releasing an expanded edition of Teaching The Dead To Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer by John Dorsey in October! The first edition of this chapbook was released in 2006 by S.A. Griffin’s Rose of Sharon Press & there was only a limited run of them printed — & honestly, it is one of my favorite chapbooks to ever come out of the small press. I am thrilled that we will be bringing back into the world a little thicker!


We have 2 confirmed events coming up in the Fall! SAVE THE DATES! The first will be on Saturday, October 18th in Philadelphia, PA at A Poet Art Gallery on 4032 Girard Ave. There are 6 features confirmed so far + an open mic! The second will be a multi-press book release reading party on Friday, October 24th in Cleveland, OH as part of Levyfest 2014, this is where John Dorsey’s book will make it’s first appearance! More details soonest for both events, watch your inbox! Also, you find me on every last Friday of every month at a local Open Mic here in Indiana, PA! There’s a budding community of lovely writers growing here, come read your work, listen or say hi at The Artists Hand! I’ll be there this Friday, the 29th & all through the Fall + Winter!

Thank you for making it through this lengthy update. Thank you for being here. We appreciate your support beyond articulation.

Be moved & be moving,


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Binaries by Jennifer Luckenbill


The crows are leaves in bare trees,
black smudges
against sanded winter skies.


They draw geographical lines
around us like fences
like walls like mountains like…


Questions asked by mouths and eyes
are benched by beaks tucked under feathers.


From birth, it’s pink or blue,
bows or camo, dolls or cars,
step right up, the choice
has been made for you, M, F.


One beak turns,
black eye accuses,
why do you like our poems best?


My skin is a free pass,
possesses all the right
traveling documents,
you don’t need to look it up,
just let me in.


…like imaginary lines
that mean you can love here,
but you can be fired there, a mile over,
for the same


My words are like ocean caves,
lost in high tides. I do not know
what words will calm crows
who stare too long
who hold still the life of a tree.


two football teams, facing off
two parties, facing off


I do not know what words
will ask the leaves to grow.


there are times when
this body feels
all wrong,
lumped and padded,
bumbling, tired
knees wondering
when they’ll
get a break.


We draw lines around
ourselves, put up barbed wire,
the illusion of sanctuary.


I only have these words,
small pebbles
falling from my hands.


Jennifer Luckenbill

I am a freelance editor and writer who lives in Oklahoma City. I have two master’s degrees, one in feminist theory and literature and one in library science. I have been published in journals such as Poetry Breakfast, Poetry Quarterly, Mused, GlassFire Magazine, Black Heart Magazine, Night Industry, and The Long Islander. My work was featured in an anthology, Entrances and Exits, published in 2013 by PegLeg Publishing. My story “Roar: A Trio of Shorts” was a finalist for Sundress Best of the Net Anthology for 2013.