April 2017 Featured Writer: Melissa Rose “The Morning After”

The Mourning After


I don’t remember how I got home last night

I woke up hungover

                                                                             Last night was a blur

Drank too much

Head still pounding I take a shower

                                                                             Removing the smell of her sweet perfume

Washing away the evidence

Aspirin won’t remedy

This emptiness

                                                                             This grin

I want this stench off me

Scrub off stains left by red hands

Never feel clean

This morning I don’t recognize my reflection

                                                                             I’m glowing

Hope nobody notices

I don’t want to explain

What I don’t want to remember

                                                                              I was watching her dance all night

I don’t even remember seeing him

                                                                              She turned my way and gave me this look

The room was spinning

                                                                              She grabbed my arm

Intoxicated I lost my ability to stand

                                                                              I swept her off her feet like Prince Charming

I started to feel sick

                                                                              She said “take me to bed,”

                                                                               so of course I obliged


What happened next is so hard to remember


A nightmare I relive every time I sleep on my side

                                                                                 A drunken hook up at a house party

I couldn’t believe she wanted me

it all happened so fast

In the darkness

Half conscious

So wasted

Fumbling with

Bra straps


Belt buckles

Pants pulled to my ankles

Unknown hands invading me from behind

Plucking clothes off like flower petals

She loves me, she loves me not

I wonder what makes a corpse look sexy

She looked like Sleeping Beauty

My stiff body reacts like rigor mortis

She want me to do all the work

and I’m ready for the challenge




She wants it so bad

Too drunk to move

Too drunk to ask


Words muffled by the silence of ecstasy




“No, don’t stop!”

We slip into bliss

Blacking out

Into full body relief

He’s taken everything from me

I’m giving her all that I have


Shhh….I hold her still

He holds me down

I make a canvas of her

Painting my passion across her hollow frame

I’m crying

She’s moaning

Muffled by pillows

She might love me….

I can hear her heart beat

This experience is out of body

Helplessness burned so hard into memory

When it’s over I feel kind of bad…

I don’t even remember her name

Assault changes everything

Women can get the wrong idea

My body is no longer mine but a possession

It was a one night stand

at the end of one of those long work weeks…

Should I have expected it?

…and  some girls you’re only meant to

have incredible chemistry with once

I thought all rapes were committed

in dark alleys by strangers

I had been in a dry spell

Can I admit what happened?

She came at the perfect one…no pun intended

He punched a hole in me

I came, I saw, I conquered

A temple desecrated

A few moments of feeling loved followed by

the comforting monotony of being single again

Trying to forget.

Afraid to tell anyone for fear they will say

I asked for it

We danced a long dance

Like a physical contract

Does this “nice guy” realize

the damage he’s done?

I just hope she doesn’t bad mouth me

for not calling

Ignorance is no excuse for violation

My dignity was destroyed in a single act of dominance

Hey! That is bullshit!

He kidnapped beauty as a trophy of conquest

I never took anything! You gave it to me!

Lacerated vaginal tissue

I thought you liked it rough!

Violent examples of power

hidden under blankets of darkness.


You raped me!

Hey, I didn’t do anything wrong!


And I know what the definition of rape is.


Swimming with Elephants Publications Chapbook Competition

Swimming with Elephants Publications (SwEP) would like to invite you to participate in our second Chapbook Competition. SwEP is seeking previously unpublished manuscripts of poems 25-35 pages in length.  In celebration of National Poetry Month we are kicking off our poetry chapbook contest on April 29 , 2017.  The contest will culminate on June 30, 2017 and the winner will receive publication with SwEP, along with 50 copies of their chapbook.

This year our special guest judge is Jessica Helen Lopez.  The winning manuscript will be selected from a small group of finalists.  Open to writers across the country, the contest is facilitated as a blind submission via SwEP Submissions Manger. Additionally, all finalists will be considered further SwEP publications and features.

We are looking for well-crafted, visceral and daring material that promotes crossing physical/psychological/spiritual/gendered borderlands, therefore breaking boundaries and blurring the lines.   As per usual, Swimming with Elephants is looking for diverse voices and are particularly interested in poetry that promotes an innate intersectionality of social issues and a deep respect for humanity. We like our poetry achingly raw and true to who YOU are as a writer.


The woman you have to WOW:


The contest will be judged by special guest, Jessica Helen Lopez!

Special guest judge, ABQ City Poet Laureate, Emeritus, Jessica Helen Lopez. Lopez is the author of three poetry books, including cunt. bomb. and The Language of Bleeding: Poems for Festival Internacional de Poesia de Granada, Nicaragua as published by Swimming with Elephants Publications.  She is also the recipient of the Zia Book Award for her first poetry book, Always Messing with Them Boys (West End Press). A longtime active member of the ABQ Slam Team, she is a two-time ABQ Women of the World Slam Champion and a member of the 2016 National Group Piece Champion winning ABQ Slam Team.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, Lopez is also a Chautauqua Scholar and instructor for UNM Chican@ Studies Department and the Institute of American Indian Arts.

A Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the founder of La Palabra – The Word is a Woman collective created for and by women and gender-identified women. Lopez is a Ted Talk speaker alumni and her talk is titled, Spoken Word Poetry that Tells HERstory. A featured poet on PBS Colores!, you may find some of Lopez’s work at these sites – thebakerypoetry.com, newmexicomercury.com, and asusjournal.org, drunkinamidnightchoir.org., Suspect Press, Somos Enscrito Latino Literary Journal, Casita Grande Press, etc. Her work has been anthologized in A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Slam Scene (UNM Press), Earth Ships: A New Mecca Poetry Collection (NM Book Award Finalist she was also a co-editor), Tandem Lit Slam (San Francisco), Adobe Walls, Malpais Review, SLAB Literary Magazine, Courage Anthology: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls (Write Bloody Press) and Learn then Burn: A Modern Poetry Anthology for the Classroom, second ed. (Write Bloody Press).

April 2017 Featured Writer: Melissa Rose “Demeter Speaks to Persephone After Her Rape”

Demeter Speaks to Persephone After Her Rape:

Daughter, the end of summer will always be a signal. You will never forget when spring was taken from your skin. Only the smokey smell of the season’s changing. The chill of the place his hands found. It is amazing how the body remembers. Like the trees after a forest fire, you will ache from a wound you place at the back of your mind. I also know what it’s like to feel empty. I can still remember the hollow absence of you in my womb. When I birthed you into the sun a girl. This was my mistake. I should have known how girls are plucked so easily from the Earth. How they are placed in vases. How their beauty is seen only as something to be owned. Even goddesses are not safe from assault. Every winter, I remember too. How we danced. How we bloomed. How I held you in my arms and whispered “sweet girl” “sweet sweet girl” You most of all should never know how the world only holds you close enough to stab you. How any day may be the day you lose your limbs. How soon enough you will face yourself in the mirror and not recognize who you are. How can I prepare you for that? When you stumble back to me with stories of how his touch reminded you of death. How every year you feel like dying. How the sunlight no longer gives you warmth. How they will make a myth out of you and he will still sit on a throne. There is a reason they call me Mother. I am good at watching the things I love suffer. Holding a place for tears is not easy but I would gladly trade your’s for my own. Anything to let go of watching the journey of my children as they stand painful in abandoned fields like stalks of withered corn. When you walked back from Hades and its darkness I made sure the sun would show you that hiding your pain from the light only kills you slowly. And I will tell you, Daughter that everything dies but it is never the end. Do not forget you are a goddess. That the sun is shining for you. Your skin is not a fruit he sunk his teeth into, it is an orchard. Your body is not a withered stem, it is a rosebush. Every year may remind you, but never forget that above all else, you were made from this Earth. You are not a victim of it. You are the fertile soil. Ready to grow. I will mourn with you. I will show them all how to bend to your pain. How they will share your grief every time you are forced back into his bed. I will plant seeds, naming each one after you, kissing them like children, letting them sleep and dream of your return. And there, in the dark, you will find yourself yourself again. Hands in the dirt, feeling the flesh of your fruitfulness not as something to be stolen, but savored. Sweet girl, you are a survivor. You were made for greater things than the Queen of Death. And you will find them here. In the Spring.