Listen to Rise read “Xylem and Phloem Pray Every Summer” and “ISeenItSomewhereBefore.”


Xylem and Phloem Pray Every Summer

My body is not an apology
Sorry be an empty lot
My bloom devours its echo
Sorry, eager buzz
I, Venus flytrap
Sorry, frozen mud an water mixture
I, dandelion breeze
But I am still sick
Brimmed of wound, muscle, wanting
Rest and flesh and
Love, an anxious bud
I’ve allowed nails to press into this sacred
Left til they were done
Came back sometime the next morning
Dressed, rinsed, did not look in the mirror
A ritual
A Black girl right of passage
Do not look in the mirror
Do not find yourself
Do not know your scars intimately
Body be spoon;
Hold, curve, bend,
Do not be weapon

We’ve not been a team
There for me

Me, hating her
In all ways
Me devouring
Me pushing
Me choosing and choosing and choosing
The wrong things
In all ways
I starve them when I hurt
Istuff them when I hurt
And body,
Every day
Vessel of pirouetting trauma
Building of ricocheting bricks
Waits, for me still
Body wants to know if I have their back this time
Their chest
Their tears
Their hands to warm
Body will not apology itself grave again
Body resurrect
Body lay under a blanket an shake
Body wheeze up stairs
Body laugh from belly
Body sweat rivers between mounds
Body float back to back
Body, give me another chance
Crave and I’ll listen
Race and I’ll listen
Still yourself tree
Tell me when to move my love
Tell me when to leave
I’ll adventure myself seed, follow you wherever you go



The revolution will also be from the couch
It will be under weeks old bed sheets
Lingering smells of fire cider and lysol
Some days the only change will be underwear and the sun and that will be enough
It will be nonlinear and neurodivergent
It will be light an heat an touch sensitive
It will also be full of light an heat an dark and touch an aches an screaming pain an laughter
And falling and not having to get up
And falling an being asked first before being helped up
The future will have laughter in every pocket
The future will have real pockets!
The future will not rename people who have already named themselves
The future sometimes will shut down when overwhelmed and not speak
The future sometimes will shut down when overwhelmed and scream
The future will embrace all its shapes
The future will not smile just to be polite
The future will be captioned, will be signed, will be interpreted
The future will not claim interdependence and then shame people for not knowing what their needs are
The future will be trauma informed and harm reductionist an it will be that as a collective an interpersonally
The future will not just admit when they’re wrong
The future will revel in it and bless the stars for the chance to learn more
The future will learn in order to teach in order to learn in order to teach in order to learn some more
The future has cute companion pups
The future has free canes & crutches & insulin & albuterol & ventilators
The future will fidget and clap and repeat until acknowledged
The future will fidget and clap and repeat until acknowledged
I said
The future will fidget and clap and repeat until acknowledged
The future will be still
The future will be patient
The future will not allow urgency to harm its people

The future closes their eyes and rests and justifies nothing
The future has the answers because the present has the people
Disabled people and chronically ill people have been murdered by their peers an the state through COVID an we will remember

Our ancestors will remember an they will carry us when all else refuse an sometimes they will lay down with us an rest & breathe &
entangle fingers an wrists an wires an we will know the surge of companionship deeper than any human touch

Isolation could never


This poem first appeared in Understory Quarterly.



Rise (they/them) is a Black genderfluid disabled femmeboi from St. Louis living on Potawatomi territory (Chicago). Everything is always changing and that’s what they love about themselves, their writing journey, and words in general. Currently, they write from the lens of creating home, embracing rage, simmering love and being deeply committed to their imagination. Imagination as home. Imagination as safety and protection. Imagine to escape for a minute, to cope. Imagination to believe that the world hella Black and Brown folks have been pushing for is already here, tiny fragments lined in gold, growing a foundation conducive to thriving. Imagination as realism/magical realism. Imagination to directly say what needs to be said when the actual story is to hard to tell.  When they are not writing, they are hanging out with their ESA pup, Jelly Ferocious, and being a Reproductive Care Worker.