All in by Risa Denenberg

by Risa Denenberg

I dream                                                a beating

fists and belt                                       look here, I say  

pointing to                                          my thighs

you missed                                          a spot

running                                                out of space


I want to live                  and               I don’t want to live like this                      


I dream                                                an inferno

coughing up blood                             air dense with smoke

perennial forest fires                          plum-colored bruises

on my palms                                       it takes some time                   

to unfurl                                              back to vertical


I want to live                  and               I want to die


I dream                                               “the big one”

I brush off dirt                                    walk into a café

order a latte                                        I never ask

the birds                                             at the feeder

to share                                              their nectar with me                            

for them                                             it’s everlasting


I want to die                 and               I don’t want to die


I dream                                               a funeral pyre

the new passport                               expires in 2026

such is                                                the confidence

my government                                 has (in me)


Risa Denenberg lives a quiet life on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state, and works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of lesbian/bi/trans poetry. She has published three full length collections of poetry, most recently, slight faith (MoonPath Press, 2018). Her poems have been published online and in print journals including Moria, HIV Here and Now, Calyx, Ithaca Lit, Spry, Permafrost, Jewish Currents, and Pittsburgh Poetry Review.