Category Archives: Poetry

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.

Shaking the Trees by Azra Tabassum

5.5″ x 8.5″ | 72 pages | ISBN: 978-0692232408

Shaking the Trees
Poetry by Azra Tabassum

From the very first page Shaking the Trees meets you at the edge of the forest, extends a limb & seduces you into taking a walk through the dark & light of connection. Suddenly, like a gunshot in the very-near distance, you find yourself traipsing though a full-blown love story that you can’t find your way out of because the story is actually the landscape underneath your feet. It’s okay though, you won’t get lost– you won’t go hungry. Azra shakes every tree along the way so their fruit blankets the ground before you. She picks up pieces & hands them to you but not before she shows you how she can love you so gently it will feel like she’s unpeeling you carefully from yourself. She tells you that it isn’t about the bite but the warm juice that slips from the lips down chin. She holds your hand when you’re trudging through the messier parts, shoes getting stuck in the muck of it all, but you’ll keep going with the pulp of the fruit still stuck in-between your teeth, the juice will dry in the crooks of your elbows & in the lines on your palms. You’ll taste bittersweet for days.

Azra Tabassum is a 20 year old English Student and hopeless romantic who lives on the South Coast of England and spends her days crying over fictional men and cats that she does not own. Her lifelong dream is to fall in love with a man with a beard and retire to a small cottage in Scotland to raise an army of felines, open a small bookshop and of course, spend her days writing books and eating chocolate.

Buying options below, find which one suits you & click!

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Please read below if you want or have ordered & before you contact us with questions, thank you!

*** You will be checking out using PayPal, where you can use your PayPal balance, your credit card or your checking account to pay. If you choose the eBook option, after purchase, you will be redirected to a download page AND receive an email with a download link to download the book instantly. If you don’t have a PDF reader, you can download one here for free. You will receive a PDF that you can read on any computer, mobile device or digital tablet! You can read PDFs on your Kindle or on the Kindle mobile app by emailing them to your Kindle email address that you can find in the Kindle’s settings. If you have an iPhone you can email yourself the PDF & open it in iBooks as well (Google is your friend.) If you have trouble downloading the eBook, like the link expired, give us an email by forwarding your proof of purchase or giving us your order number & we will email you a copy!

If you have any questions, please contact us, we’ll try to be timely with our response, your patience is a treasure! wordsdancepublishing (at) gmail

A note about SparkleFat, about representation, about visibility, and about these brave, brave bodies

SparkleFat: Poems That Intend To Be Seen by Melissa May | 5.5″ x 8.5″ | 72 pages | ISBN: 978-0692225417

Hey all, Melissa shared this today & I felt like I needed to share it with you:

A note about SparkleFat, about representation, about visibility, and about these brave, brave bodies

Hello, world. My name is Melissa May and I recently (like, as of yesterday) released a book with Words Dance Publishing titled SparkleFat: Poems That Intend to be Seen. If we are friends on any variety of social media, you’ve probably heard me garble excitedly about it in the last several months. It’s a big deal to me, this book. For one, it’s my first book not held together with staples and painstakingly assembled by my husband, my friends, and myself on the questionable floor of a local print shop. This book has a spine and a bar code and so much gorgeous color. I look at it a lot, mostly with gratitude, sometimes with a flipping tummy, but all of the time with love.

I want to tell you why this book is important. Or perhaps, rather, why *I* think this book is important.

SparkleFat is a book of poetry. The poems this book contains are a map through a dense wilderness. This wilderness is love. Love for my body. Love for bodies. Love when it is ugly and it hurts. Love when it turns into redemption. Love that fights back. All of the poems are about bodies in some incarnation or another. From the first poem I ever wrote about being a fat woman (Fat Girl) through the 30 Love Letters Project I was blessed to participate in by invitation (alongside SassyFatGirl member Rachel Wiley) of Denise Jolly, who continues to tear up the sidewalk of shame in a way that captivates and viscerally frees people. This book is like my diary – but it’s more than that. This book is my story. It is the story of so many women and men who do not see themselves in media or represented in a bold or empowering way. This book is my life, my blood and my guts and my secrets. This book is the story of my body.

Recently, Button Poetry uploaded my performance of my poem “Dear Ursula“, a poem in the book and a poem that has a lot of special, powerful meaning to me. Upworthy picked the poem up from Button and suddenly my inbox was flooded with people telling me the stories of how they, too, connected to Ursula in a deep and meaningful way in much the same manner as me. Ursula was the first fat, empowered figure I ever saw. Watching her on-screen, even in the role of the villain, shook something deep inside of me. After the video went sorta viral, the same stories popped up again and again from strangers reaching out to let me know that seeing me, talking about Ursula, talking about bodies, talking about my body, empowered them in a similar way. Many of them told me they had never had the courage to talk to anyone about the lives they led in their bodies because they were ashamed. How freeing it was to send a simple message. What a powerful thing that was to me, to hold all that secret and all that grief that they no longer had to cling to ashamed.

That’s when I realized how very rare a thing it is to see a fat woman own her body in a public way. How very rare it is to hear the stories of fat people in general, without apologetic undertone or frequent attempts to temper their truth with “good fatty” wisdom. How powerful and necessary these stories were becoming. How saying them and reading them and seeing them come to life on the page was like raising a flag up high in the air that screams, boldly, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”.

This book isn’t just for fat people. This book is for anyone who has ever lived inside the cage of their body before realizing that is only as prison as we make it. This book is for your brother or your aunt or your sister. This book is for you. This book is for me. This book is a loud voice in a forest that begs us to get lost in the myth of body-ideals, a voice screaming that you are perfect. Screaming it.

This book is saying the two most powerful words any human can utter.

This book is saying Me, Too.

I want to make it clear that though I am incredibly proud of this book, and proud of the work that my Editor Amanda Oaks and her team at Words Dance Publishing put into this book to make it the glittering and wondrous thing that it is, I am also a little afraid of it.

When my video went viral, it wasn’t just kind messages I received, and though I was warned by my fat-girl sisters that it would happen, the push-back knocked the wind out of me for a bit. The cost of visibility is being seen. By everyone. By people who do not want good things for you, to whom you are merely a closet to hold their rage. I’ve had some time, and some pushing, and some deep, deep thought about what this book would mean if I gave it to the world in the manner I wanted to, with this message attached to it, and what that would mean to my life as a semi-introvert who feels things very deeply and takes everything personally. What a risk such a thing like this would be.

It’s okay. I’m ready.

I am ready to be seen.

Even the cover, a photo taken by a dear friend of mine Juli Bowen during a body celebration shoot (the first real pictures I ever saw of my nearly-naked body) is a statement in visibility. I didn’t want an illustration or a model or anyone else to be the gatekeeper of this journey. That’s my body. That’s my face. That’s my stomach and my hair and my nose. That’s me.

See me. See us.

Spread this message as far and fat and wide as you can. I have spent too much time being afraid of what would happen if people really saw me. I am tired of having to hold the secret shame of people who do not feel worthy to share their own story. I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of shame.

This is your invitation to the journey. May love find you in it. May you hear the Me, Too’s in every page. May you love yourself with all the good light you deserve. May you take up every bit of space your body has earned. May this inspire your own story, your own skin, your own journey.

You can find the book here & you can find me on Facebook here.

You might find yourself in these pages. Open up, loves. Let the light in.

Sparkle on,