Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from our favorite emerging writers
In one room, a freezer hums a melody of orange Push Pops and venison.
An army-green commercial gas dryer takes up half of another room,
spitting flames as it tumbles our clothes with a roaring growl.
All the castoff mysteries of those who tell us to be seen but not heard
are packed in this hidden and noisy sanctuary.
My brothers and I drive toy cars along cracked concrete,
roads created each time the house sighs.
We play in a place where everything comes to die—
chipped vases in a rainbow of colors, a lone toilet bleeding rust,
broken rakes, and boxes filled with yellowed paper.
Coffee cans overflow with treasure—bolts, screws, and nails.
Tools hang from a crumbling pegboard, and rows of everyday household poisons
glint like jugs of jewels in the dim light.
Grandpa’s old wheelchairs, leather ripped and duct-taped, with handles worn smooth,
transport us around teetering shelves, stirring up dust and whoops of laughter.
My brothers and I aren’t the only ones who flourish in this damp haven.
Scabs of mold dot exterior walls here and there like living wallpaper,
clouds of spider nests thrum with new life, and every now and then a scorpion appears,
blindly fumbles for a moment before panic-scurrying back inside the wall.
During tornado warnings, my brothers and I squeeze beneath
a wobbly table with a star-patterned Formica top and listen to scorpions
dancing their thunderstorm dance in the walls that keep us safe.
We huddle in the dark and worry about our grandparents upstairs.
Grandpa is wheelchair-bound, and Grandma refuses to leave him.
We never have to wait long, though.
The pounding of our hearts is soon gentled by the soft thudding of Grandma’s footsteps,
which always stop just a few steps down the stairs.
She knows we are already racing to her, thundering through the basement,
ready to carry in the wood before she asks us to.
7/23/2022 0 Comments
Please accept our apologies for the hiatus! Sometimes life gets in the way.
We're back to grace your scorching weekend with a short collection of poetry from Jacqueline Simon.
Read, share, and enjoy! And remember to stay hydrated.
-The Derailleur Press team
WHAT BIRDS BUT WE COULD PUT UP WITH PERFECTION?
Red-Tailed Hawk, Briones
after William Carlos Williams
No feather falls unsignificantly
—not from the bird off
whom it has come. The
hawk, burnt-sienna overhead, coast
-ing on a current until there
under the treacherous sun was
a thrush, a solitary bird, a
meal. Nothing to warn, no splash
like a crane must heed. Nothing quite
so obvious, just death. Unnoticed
is never true. A feather [this
feather], a reminder of who was
lost. I hope that Icarus
thought of this while drowning
I know all of our hearts are heavy with sadness this week, but we hope to offer something beautiful with this poem by Jennifer Ramirez.
Please read, and share, and keep fighting the good fight.
-The Derailleur Press team
have you not noticed
we rarely speak
a solar eclipse
and just as
our bond like
a stray thread
of my red lace
drawn by the
urgency of our
losing its shape,
while the trees
thaw and begin
until one day
it will run out of
string the way an
hour glass spills its
last grains of sand
Jennifer Ramirez currently writes from The Horn of Africa. She is from the pacific island of Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands. She was born a creative with a focus in painting, but took a long hiatus from art to focus on her career as a Marine and later her livelihood in avionics. Fast forward twenty years, after many amazing experiences, she revisits that which she was born to do, art.
Her work is currently being published in the next publication from AllPoetry.com, and she is a semi-finalist in the current Poetry Nation’s International Poetry Contest. When she is not writing or drawing, she can be found riding her motorcycle in Nevada.
After a brief hiatus to release Late Stage, gather our thoughts, and do some spring cleaning, The Rail is back this week to bring you three beautiful poems by New York writer Nicolette Reim.
Thank you for sticking with us, readers and writers! We couldn't do it without you.
-The Derailleur Press team
never met D. H. Lawrence
but knew instinctively
no form of love is wrong
as long as it is love and
you yourself honor what
you have to do.
Love has an extraordinary
variety of forms
and that is all there is in life
it seemed to me
gently above a tree.
Thank you so much for your patience while we dealt with some difficulties (both technical and personal).
The Rail is back this week with two poems that use all five senses to discuss bodies, longing, and motherhood.
We have two announcements coming down the pipe, so please stay tuned! Plus, our brand new fiction chapbook is out in the world and available for order here.
Happy reading and have a great weekend!
The Derailleur Press Team
Am I free? I dreamt I’d lost weight, the black leggings loose.
Before surgery, I almost threw them in the trash
can. Now they feel snug at the waist as I rise and muscle
down the hall with a scooter, right foot plastered. I want to
explain that I’ve weathered this surgery with Tuscan pizza—
fresh basil and tomato, mozzarella melted and stretched over
gluten. Lemon cupcakes from the corner bakery also
helped, tasting of Mother’s long-ago cake batter stuck to the
insides of her yellow Pyrex bowl and clinging to the mixer’s
joined blades, me perched over the table on my
knees to reach the silver curves with my tongue. Now I
languish in a dark room with hints of a Western movie set,
miscellaneous furniture collected from estate sales of
neighbors—red velvet rocking chair with curved armrests,
oak end table with a bad drawer and cracked
patina, and my lovely tasseled rose lampshade inspired by
Queen Victoria. I’ve tied the window sheers back with brown
ribbons, like doll hair pulled into long ponytails. On my desk
sits a papier-mâché frog prince, pillowy arms set forward to
tripod with his extended legs, keeping him propped
up. He is my talisman, my muse and sometimes
voyeur with his intense eyes. But mostly he is a bit of
whimsy, dressed in purple Elizabethan ruff and green breeches, his
expectant, slightly smirking amphibian countenance—he is my
yea-sayer, leaning forward on felt hands, asking,
Zaftig, my dear, what comes next?
Florida poet Ellis Elliott has three beautiful poems about family and the intimacies and indignities of aging.
Please read and share with someone who needs a little beauty in their life today.
The Derailleur Press Team
She bends silvery-green sweetgrass
leaves into woven baskets in a ritual
as a low-country Sunday school hymn.
Both held and pulled with her right hand,
the coils must be taut with tension and strong
enough to hold water. She sketched rooms
to scale in her red spiral notebook, sewed
the teal silk curtains, and died in the
I moved into. In the kitchen were her copper
cooking pots, her cracked oyster plates,
her mint-green matchbox from Paris,
her baskets on cabinet tops, and her three
lost boys. I search for something sturdy to
contain their grief. And when it can’t be found,
I become my own flawed variation. My broad
leaves braid and curl around all of us.
As you start your week, we know your hearts are heavy with the weight of current events, from military occupations across the globe to attacks on human rights in our own country. We hope in the midst of the terror and uncertainty, you can take a moment for yourself, and heal via art.
This week we're happy to share two poems from Serena Eve Richardson which will make you sigh and smile, even as the world spins madly on.
The Derailleur Press Team
My parents are mountains, and if I try hard,
I can be a mountain too. I drink Taj Mali,
one of my uncles knows where the good
tea grows, he fed my mother Shakespeare
back when they were starving
I eat biscuits and gravy, salt and pepper
only or I might spoil myself, you blink and life
becomes hard. My father loves the blank taste
and hated his mother, says fingers and toes
are the only things you can count on
WISH YOU WERE HERE
Have you noticed we don’t
talk much anymore?
Have you noticed that days
only last a short while,
that children are young for
only a short while, animals
live only a short while?
Serena Eve Richardson is a New Jersey poet, essayist, and singer/songwriter. Her poetry is most recently published in The Round, Good Works Review, Straight Forward Poetry, Pennsylvania English, and Rubbertop Review. In 2019 she released her debut EP Some Imaginings as Cat Cameo, which features poetry that has been transitioned into song. Serena is a fan of live storytelling and performed at the 2019 Philadelphia Podcast Festival with the podcast RISK! She enjoys motorsports and Siljun Dobup, a samurai sword martial art in which she holds a second-degree black belt. Serena is currently completing her poetry book Ectoplasm and working to reinstate the office of New Jersey Poet Laureate
We're so excited to feature past Rail contributor Natascha Graham with two more stunning poems.
Natascha's work covers the uncertainty of queer love, lust, and everything in between. You won't want to sleep on this week's post!
We hope you're taking care of yourselves, whatever that may mean to you.
The Derailleur Press team
SHE’S CALLED GILLIAN
She’s got brown hair and eyes the colour of a bleached winter sky.
She’s about 5’5, but she’s tough.
I met her just after I met my girlfriend.
My girlfriend was a narcissist.
She didn’t like me having friends, or seeing family.
So, I didn’t really.
Gillian stuck around, though.
In fact, that’s when I first met her
A few months in
She was standing in a driveway nudging gravel with the toe of her Converse.
I asked her if she’d lost something.
Her wedding ring, she said. Not that it mattered.
He was a cheating bastard.
We walked to school together.
She wore dark jeans and a plaid shirt over a long-sleeved top with four buttons at the neckline.
She was self-destructive.
I liked that about her.
She’d help me put the shopping away when the Tesco delivery arrived.
It wasn’t my house,
but I did everything in it.
She expected that of me.
Once when my girlfriend went away,
we used her land to have a bonfire in the old metal drum that was full of weeds and earth and crap.
Gillian joked we should get all of her clothes and stick them on the fire,
but burning her clothes wouldn’t do any good, we decided.
She had enough trouble keeping her clothes on,
having less of them would only add to the problem.
We cooked our lunch on the bonfire.
Potatoes baked in tin foil.
Their skins were black but we ate them anyway,
and inside they were smoky and white and good.
Gillian would be there in the evenings, too.
I’d make my excuses and slip to the garage for another bottle of wine,
and Gillian was there,
back against the wall, picking at the fraying edge of her sleeve.
She’d tell me about her day, the sheep, the farm.
She’d hug me, properly, hold me until I’d stopped shaking,
or near enough.
Once, on fireworks night,
She had a party.
Everyone was there. All of her friends, family, neighbours.
Her dad made the bonfire bigger than was safe.
She poured everyone drinks and looked for me to give me something to do.
I stood in the shadows with Gillian.
She was all nervy, jittery, bristling with energy, possibility, magic....
She was wearing wellington boots.
Green ones, but they weren’t Hunter boots, and I was glad of that.
They were bog-standard boots from a garden centre.
She had one hand in her pocket, I could hear the clink of the keys to her Land Rover.
You need to get shot of her.
She said, looking at the bonfire, into the flames.
Her face was warm, golden, fire-lit and beautiful.
She’s going to kill you if you don’t.
She looked at me then, Gillian did.
One way or another you’ll end up dead.
She was right. I knew she was right.
But Gillian only existed in my head.
With Valentine's Day behind us, and Spring right around the corner, we're happy to share a meditation on love from West African poet Joseph Hope.
Please read, share, and submit something of your own!
We're going to be making some changes (all good things!) at The Rail, so keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming announcement!
The Derailleur Press team
Love can be served cold,
sitting across the table,
music in the background
as she throws her hair back,
and ask what you want the babies
to look like, knowing well
you're not God you still go ahead
to answer the wrong questions the right way.
It's valentine day
and the day is
the both of you
pretending to be
in love. At least.
The train is miles away
but the vibration reaches you
like the cold breeze
and you both hold hands and
walk in and out
of the movie theatre.
If you can eat cold love
and survive for years
you can survive
better or worse.
Love can be served like ice cream
on a cold day, and you both
hold hands and dine
like polar bears in love.
Joseph Hope writes from Nigeria, West Africa. He believes he's a metaphor for what can be, what is possible. And a synonym for a wonder the world don't have a word for. The King of weirdos who tries every night to find the confluence point between river Earth and river Heaven with his eyes close. Hahaha. Udo.
His works are forthcoming or already published in Reckoning Press, Timber Ghost Press, Evening Street Press, Zoetic Press, New Verse News, Praxis Magazine, Ubu, AfroPoetry, Gemini Spice Magazine, Spillwords, SprinNG, Writers Space Africa, Nthanda Magazine, 5th & 6th Chinua Achebe Anthology, Ariel Chart, Best "New" African Poets 2019 Anthology, and more. He's a reader for Reckoning Press.
He was a fellow in the 2021 SprinNG Writing Fellowship.
He tweets @ItzJoe9 & IG: _hope_joseph
Start your week off right with this brilliant work by Igbo poet Moses John Agbaeze.
We feel truly blessed with the amount of incredible submissions we're receiving, especially from emerging writers!
Please read, share, and consider writing something yourself.
P.S. Haven't ordered our 2022 fiction chapbook yet? We're going to print at the end of the month and you'll definitely want a copy.
Here’s proof that my lips parted nicely.
I stand before the judge, swelled, yet, I chopped in bits, like
dementia—like slipping a duster over a white marker board.
He further tries to push testimonies into his log.
I pull a knot, the essence being warped and swamped:
where bliss soured and a glass of juice, like the motive, numbed
A glass is the serpent of Eden.
Lady— a consensus adjutant carrying in her hands the summation
of a night where lady plus man is a spasm of emotion.
Here, behind a shut-door, a haven for decent, yet, revolting spats
A glass, its distance to the mouth, several gulps after, and it’s
an ulterior scheme of forced satisfaction, an implosion.
I don't know how to read the judge an expressive face. Say, I’m a
shameless man. Aren’t these ones here to spit into the wind?
Wind, a wide traveler? I birth a life: didn’t I do it and liked it?
I didn't order the night. I stayed respectful to fits of emotion,
laid a glass, and used the restroom.
So, I carry my body, a swinging pendulum gently to the enclave just
below the judge’s odd stare. Ruffled, I’m easing towards
hibernation. Slippery, I’m not writing my body to a fall. I hope
he understands this reluctance.
For rightsake, I hope she leaps for truth and at once, tell that night the
night’s way— fits of emotion,
a glass of juice,
rest in a room,
room, her kingdom!
she'll stand here and say that night in black
and white, a tipsy night. I answered to the tips of her fingers,
the loops in her palms driving me on a free ride.
This day was born that night.
Think of her testimony as a body in rest, palming her jutted belly
to bliss if motion was constant.
A beautiful thing lives inside of her, blooming like tendrils, but
I shrink at duty when duty becomes undue, forced, apt denial of
some sort. They'll grow up asking the wrong kind of questions.
I'd want it differently, I’d want un-blanking the judge, past this
cesspool of loss that’s called us rest, tinkered to a halt.
Let’s say that night; color these witnesses into an active voice,
a glass stained with her whorls,
and her lustful tongue, I couldn't refuse.
I want flowers, like a garden: pruned and chastised into a beautiful
woman. This way, they ask the right kind of questions,
I say how blessed I am to acknowledge the night as God.
Moses John Agbaeze is a writer of Igbo descent who uses writing, especially poetry, as a tool to tell the human story. When he's motivated to write, he writes poems and short stories that elicit strong behavioral traits in humans, like relationships and love, and how the environment plays a subtle role in shaping lives. He's a graduate of Geography, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, so when he's not writing about love or family, he's looking up places in a map and ranting about how he thinks Geography is the mother of all sciences.