Author Archives: Jess Rizkallah

About Jess Rizkallah

Hey hi hello, I'm Jess, another english major twenty-something that makes things and has internet connection and a sheepish desire to be considered a writer/artist person. I edit Maps for Teeth magazine and smell like angry coffee grounds probably 44% of the time

ON LOVE (After The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, in Which Almitra Is Really the Prophet and Also She’s a Preying Mantis)


The Slave – Khalil Gibran 1920

you know, he talks a lot. i made the mistake of giving him my name
& he thought it was my heart. he called it a shore parallel to his
marveled at the sea between us. spoke balsam about my bite.
waxed crime and punishment about my kills
and speaking of all this killing and this speaking
i was going in for it when Mustafa asked me.

he thought himself a wiseass, maybe. or maybe not.
the holy types never think so	and that’s why 
the burning crosses come for them in the night. 
you know, i rode the burning smoke here
to do him a favor, to make it quick and clean
i’ve been building inside myself & my paradise 
could use the molasses
he is made of

but then he asked me if it was an e or an a
in the “preying” 

said to him “what’s the difference
said to him “preying is a type of prayer”
said to him “join me in this prayer”
 Continue reading

Sin el Fil, Lebanon

3030 header 20150331-01


i asked her to tell me something about the elephants
she told me she used to live in one of their teeth
burrowed into beirut like a forgotten cavity
it’s where her mother had cancer and her dog ran into traffic 
the year before she met my grandfather

i asked her about the curve of the tusk at the base
of their home, she said they stood there
huddled, three days, bricks for pillows, sirens
replacing the birds 	and fingers coming through
the ground for the ankles not yet twisted by the rubble

the next day, they made for america
and thirty years later, the ivory is still in the basement
cocooned by a silk curtain. Continue reading

DMC Mixtapes: Year-In-Review Edition (Jess Rizkallah)



I’m kind of the worst at keeping up with new music. I think it’s because when I find albums or songs I love, I listen the shit out of them and then I listen some more. I think this is a side effect of the discman generation. Shuffle button?? Pandora??/??// what is that. Here’s a list of ten songs that I played over and over and over again in 2014 until all my poems somehow involved past lives and fruits yelling at me and animals trying to be planets and space things.

1. You Are The Apple, Lady Lamb The Beekeeper

Lady Lamb The Beekeeper (aka Aly Spaltro) has songs that feel like sunflowers and dinosaur bones. With the cracking and shooting up toward the sky and etc. She has very few songs that follow any sort of song structure. They run away but it’s actually the best because she builds these worlds I’ve only ever found in poems. Word is she actually started off writing poetry before music. Not surprising. I haven’t stopped listening to this song since it came out on Ripely Pine.


2. Aubergine, Lady Lamb The Beekeeper

And also this one.This list was almost just going to be all LLBK.

Continue reading

Three Poems – Jess Rizkallah


if teta never had to leave lebanon i wonder if she would make preserves

the middle east wasn’t called the middle east before the west started calling it that.

i learned this three years into college, twenty-one years into the first generation, 
and so many poems deep about how this region is a cat 	back and forth
under the DNA propping up my blood.

i could stop calling it the middle east		i could call it Mediterranean
i could call it kitchen counter in the sunlight
tiny lizards napping in the window sill / parsley straining in the sink
i could call it abdel halim-hafiz tuning my mother’s heart from the radio
teta’s apples becoming vinegar under the sink 
jido’s mountains swallowing the moon every morning

but why would i dignify the history books by letting them think all this remnant is Art. 
the collection of small miracles i call home is just the pinking skin around a scab 
where once, the earth was a mouth laughing like lutes and molasses.

why would we let the west think this jagged wound a birthmark, like it was here all along

they don’t teach it like this:	a toddler dipping into the fingerpaint innards of the cat
rubbing it on the fridge, smiling up at you stupidly, like this is art.
they teach it like:  	stupid cat for being a trusting predator. 
for sleeping belly exposed. 
not stupid toddler. never stupid
 Continue reading