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Rosa Roja

By Jenn Givhan

The balloon animals wilting in the city’s

only zoo remind me. When I turn

circus, I wear more than costume. I wear


my sister, Nieve. White as snow.

Girl whose mama locks

herself inside for days. Girl


whose claustrophobic potions

fail her, fingers muddying

leaves & earthworms.


Mama out of focus

with her heft & weight

her cold tortillas.


She calls me cochina. Pig child.

I tug at my basalt-

black hair, woven


with ribbons like myth

Mama fixes each morning to soothe

her nerves, combing & brushing


me smooth. When she’s angry

she leaves on my cheeks

hand-shaped splotches redder


than the birthmark on my neck

where she says

I was kissed by God.


I wonder what ice-cream tastes like

in heaven. I wonder if the growl of

mountain lions is real (Why are you here, child?)


& the answer is Nieve.

Previously Featured Poetry

Rosa Roja by Jenn Givhan

Sleeping Heroes by Ace G. Pilkington

Dr. Guinevere and Mrs. Vak by Alexandra Ranieri

Paradise Lost by Katy Coutley

Persephone & the Blood by Melissa Newman-Evans

Imposter Syndrome by Champagne E Girten

Previously Featured Fiction

Old Times by Elisabeth Leekley

Iphianassa by kab

Blood For Rain by Allison Thai

Almost Spring by Carol Harada

On Light and Dark by Mariel Tishma

"Am I My Brother's Keeper?" by Amanda Faye

Previously Featured Art

digital and ink abstract art

Night Fog Machine by Sari Krosinsky


HAUNTED by Julie Dapper