The Last Petal

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EDITORS’ NOTE dear friends, welcome to the last petal. this zine is the perfect intersection of our two projects; it examines & reimagines the stories that shaped us. this zine mixes disney princess movies & favorite bedtime stories & scary fairy tales. this zine is about girlhood, nostalgia, growing up, & looking back. we were so moved by the responses to our call for submissions, & we’re thrilled to share the final collection with you. love, kay allen & erin moran

SWORD & KETTLE PRESS a tiny publishing house for feminist fantasy & spec fic by kay allen instagram/twitter: @swordandkettle

SUBURBAN SPRINGTIME an experimental zine by philly-based journalist and poet erin moran instagram @suburbanspringtime twitter @suburbanspring

Cover art: “Angel” by Wanda Fraga Sánchez de la Camoa.

Lizzy Affa

JANUARY Stephanie Tom There's a legend of a girl that was born on the moon and came down to live on Earth. They say she was able to walk on shards of broken glass until they melted in blooms of white iris in her wake. She once broke all of the teeth off of her comb from brushing out her tangled hair, but it didn't matter, because she ended up being able to undo all of the knots anyways. They say she was like January, so cold yet so full of life. People learned to whisper, worship January when she taught them the art of unraveling. She taught them that nothing really matters when the ends justify the means. She taught them how to pick out splinters from their palms to turn into kindling for an even bigger fire. She taught them how to undo themselves into ribbons and learn to weave themselves back together, stronger than before. On her last day on Earth, she turned around and gave them a pair of gleaming silver scissors. When there is nothing else, she told us, eyes widened like keyholes, remember that if anything, there is always a chance to start anew, if only one is willing to cut the puppet strings of fate. The people never saw her again, but by the next moon, there were no longer traces of knots or glass or string lacing the town. Everyone was as clean and sharp as the waning crescent in the sky.

excerpt from ECDYSIS Christina Rosso Rapunzel braced herself on the stone archway of the window as the most recent suitor, gripping her golden locks like rope, began to descend. She didn’t bother to wave to him, a forced smile on her face, or tell him to come again. There wouldn’t be an again. His hands moved down her hair, the constant shifting a searing tug at her scalp. This is the last time, she told herself. The last time the Enchantress would shriek for Rapunzel to let down her hair, the last suitor treating her flesh like an endless buffet. Soon, her body would no longer belong to the sloped and leaky walls of the stone tower. Her hair would be a tool rather than a shackle. Soon, she would be someone else entirely, reborn, a snake having shed its skin. As she knew from many tales of maidens being held captive by villains and monsters, to escape, you had to cut off the head of the beast. Naturally, she had considered killing her captor, the Enchantress. Though it had been a momentary thought, lasting no longer than the flicker of a flame, it was a black mark she imagined carved into her chest. She rubbed at that spot now and again, a sigh of relief escaping her lips when the skin felt smooth. The truth was even if the Enchantress was wicked, a kidnapper and jailor, who peddled the girl’s flesh to suitor after suitor intrigued by the woman with the longest hair known to man, the woman was also family. It wasn’t a biological familiarity; once upon a time Rapunzel had had a mother and a father. But after so many years, they were just a dim outline resembling the wind, transient and imprecise. The only person she knew in palpable, sharp angles and curves was the Enchantress. Her entire conceptualization of the outside world was formed by that woman. There was also a tenderness to her, if only in the moments when the old woman stroked Rapunzel’s hair with a comb. She would sing then, weaving stories of a beautiful maiden with hair as long as a tower and how one day her prince would come. Rapunzel knew the Enchantress loved her in her own way, and for that she deserved to live, though it would be in purgatory without her prized possession. Read the rest:

Madeline Mecca

Lizzy Affa

FINDING MY LEGS Zhanubia Divine We were witches on the concrete outside of our school. We swung on swings until we flew, eyes closed and adrenaline rushing. We sang and skipped rope, wondering how far we could go without tripping. My best friend and I confided in each other that we were vampires, living in secret covens. I conjured up stories of my kingdom and our war for power. Worlds which didn’t exist were always like home to me. I escaped to them every night, morphing into a new being with a new kind of magic before I went to sleep. Wrestling is believed to be a mannish activity; one must turn the other cheek while the men roll around in the dust and the dirt, shirts lost and pants ripped. Werewolves are only ever fancied as bulging muscle ripping through buttons, gnarled voices and snapping teeth. But Hannah and I transformed into wolves whenever the sun came out: skirts hiked up and white shoes scuffed into new colors. Mother would always dress me in white, make me as pretty as a doll. Then I would prowl across the living room floor, imagining myself in new flesh, something wise and malicious. At the fast food window I morphed into the opposite gender to get the good toys- the spy gadgets and beyblades. On Orchard Street, the boys and I grew into powerful wizards from different dimensions. We were pokemon rolling on the floor, fighting tooth and nail for our honor. Malik was blonde and strong, my wrestling buddy until he moved to another building. At daycare, Alex became my new war brother; we ran from one end of the field to the other, shouting the location of the sacred goo that could keep us alive in battle. Alex was freckled and younger than I, my favorite of the other kids. Every time my mother picked me up, her jokes about our secret crushes on one another fell flat. I felt a confusion and a numbness I couldn’t explain. When I saw the first signs of body hair, I told Gia it was feathers. I told her I would be high in the air before school got out, far above all this fear and embarrassment. Her eyes shook their head at me and my mother taught me to shave the next day. I felt that this new development was

something both serious and shameful, like my body had betrayed me. All of the boys received praise for their entrance into manhood, their transition into something bigger and better. They received slaps on the back and wholesome jokes. It was one of the first times I’d felt that way, small and girlish and alienated from myself. As I grew older, I never lost my love for shapeshifting. I would write myself new dimensions and tales of bewitched landscapes. I would fold myself paper thin and slide into my words, paint my mind for all to see. When my mother brought me to school, I plucked falsities from my throat wrapped in boys’ names and placed them in her hand. I chose the ones whose looked the softest, whose hair was the shiniest, and told myself this was meant to be. I penned uncomfortable words in my pink diary, confusion buried deep in my skull. To be a girl sometimes is to become square and paper. Sometimes it is age old stories etched into your skin- your body will always mean more than its meant to. It is to look in the mirror and see an object you are not always attached to. Your breasts are made fantasy, behind-the-scenes myths. Your future child is pulled from your chest and you become dainty again, more palatable for the well-dressed men around you. To love a body like your own is to dress yourself in red before the bull, to shapeshift into something edible. To be a girl will always be to possess life. It will always be magic, dripping from the hips and pouring from the mouth. It will always be this— storytelling and poetry, life-bearing and beauty. To realize my femaleness was to see my brown skin—it was brown skin and sunshine and my legs intertwined with another’s. It was to let my hair grow like a lion’s mane, to become Aslan in a world which fancied me a mouse. It will always be more than they believe it to be. It will always be more than they tell you.

Lizzy Affa

Lizzy Affa

Katey Williams

HEAVEN LAST NIGHT Katey Williams I talked to heaven last night when cherubs opened their mouths and brass valves released my sentiments 24 karat company in the presence of wooden seats; but I realized that Lucifer knows his way around here. And what can be a cushion of cirrus can dissolve into a storm within a second, and I’ll have to walk alone again. I hate having to alone again. Maybe you were a dizzy spell as I crawled through the fog. It was the ghost of me grasping your transparent hand that helped me through the night, but you're no Hermes. You're a faulty messenger. maybe like Icarus you wanted to know the sky but I couldn't talk you down. You force my eyes open to witness the torment that I call “myself”: My aspirations and failed musings dancing naked before my eyes maybe it's okay for me to abandon fate this time.

Because no matter how much they convince me that wanting you was right— that our stars were aligned, So were your teeth as you grin while you prey into me. If Lucifer wanted hell he was bound to get it. so you were him, wanting my hell and you know damn well that no black fire can match the resentment of innocence leaving.

Wanda Fraga SĂĄnchez de la Camoa

Christian Ramsey

CANTRIP Diana Hurlburt They warned her and warned her, oh—don’t smile at handsome men, they said, don’t cast your eyes on lovely women, don’t place your hand in hands and your lips to lips and don’t—oh, never—they warned her, and here she is. Garnet droplets: a maidenhead offered and a pact awaiting signature. A kiss on parchment, as though this deed is a letter to a lover leagues hence; a quick gulp, bursting tart on the tongue, eternal draught. They warned her too of fae-food, of hours spun into years beneath the hill, those poets. They warned her of a black-browed god and his open palm, those philosophers, of mothers lost and grieving. Don’t walk among the flowers lonesome, they said, don’t walk to market along some strange, old way. Yet here she is. A feasting table: lambs roasted and nectar, ambrosia of the gods, golden apples, syrup-sweet fruits strange and swollen, a vast pool of wine shrinking as goblets dip near. A place of honor for her, guest-welcome, and a platter central as an altar, bare and waiting. They warned her too of selling her heart; they made clipped vulgar reference to milch-cows and she, innocent, looked at her breasts in the rippled glass mirror, wondering how and when milk might appear. They warned her of men made of devouring flames, devils and sprites, of fallen women intent on robbing her of babes before birth. A changeling in her womb at the start, a changeling heart, and here she is. If she’s not here—if there’s no she to be presented to the platter as calf—then whither the ravenous teeth? Her heart will come to no harm, stowed safely in her own stomach. There never was a mouth so sweet upon her skin but her own. Perhaps, in her own consuming appetite, she’ll happen upon that bone which turns a witch invisible when placed in the mouth. She’s no rib from Adam’s chest but her own bone palace, rent and knitted, hewn down in hungry gulps and built again, kissed to ecstatic life. She eats no food of the hill, to be trapped and dance for eternity; she provides no food to the gods, no soul for the Furies nor flesh for the king. If a sacrifice is to be made, she’s its lamb and its recipient. Red seeds shower down among the bones and a new flowering explodes forth, implacable, never-fading.

Wanda Fraga Sรกnchez de la Camoa

I once made a heart out of pin needles — you Prick Adrienne Adams The path of needles and pins devours; weaves, threading hope across the altar, cloaks fire, burns itself out. I hopscotch (spin) pin pricks. Feet trail blood crumbs. Wolf follows easily. Lets himself in, finds the oven, hot. He bakes buns; feasts, licks his palate and growls. Red swoons exhausted. Katey Williams

Melts; in a pool of salty ash. Smiles. Wolf knows she swept grandmother out long ago. Devoured her body book blessing whole. Stones weigh Red’s belly down. In a euphoric cloud she pulls out bloody buns; feeds wolf. Sends him off. He blames the flowers; forgets sniffing. Delays, pulls his fur through Red’s eye needle. The cottage steams. The river runs past looking for redemption. They have all been here before. Peter wolfs down his food; Leaves. Red knows. (Red’s not worried) He’ll be back.

Madeline Mecca

CONTRIBUTORS Adrienne Adams is a poet, artist and curator dedicated to creating safer intersectional space to honour the feminine. She curates Woolf’s Voices (aka Virginia), joking that it’s an excuse to howl in public. She has performed her work extensively and co-curated CISWF, Single Onion and TheIndieYYC. She is published or forthcoming in Antilang, FreeFall, Politics/letters live, Polyglot, Wax Poetry, Rose Quartz, NōD, New Forum, Mothering Anthology (Inanna Press), Artizein, YYC POP and others. @adamsel.adams @woolfsvoices Lizzy Affa is an artist based on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Lizzy has been creating art since the early 2000s. With a primary focus in photography, Lizzy strings together her dreamy images of singled-out subjects and nostalgic symbols to create visual sentences from the personal narrative deep within herself. Lizzy graduated from The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in 2010 and has worked on staff at prominent art + photography institutions including Penland School of Crafts and the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Lizzy currently works as a freelance photographer and artist focusing on projects for organizations that raise awareness and provide support for mental health disabilities, including Pat Deegan's Common Ground Program. When she is not hard at work, Lizzy can be found playing her synthesizer, mountain biking, camping, and scouring estate sales for vintage treasures Zhanubia Divine is based near Cape Cod, though she has been moving around her entire life. She has been writing since she knew how. As a child, she wrote endless unfinished short stories, but now she sticks mainly to prose and poetry. Her writing usually tells the story of her own tumultuous life—she understands her experiences better once they are written down. She has also written slam poems for the LGBT and black communities as well. Wanda Fraga Sánchez de la Camoa (@artsessionwanda) born in Santa Clara, Cuba in 1994, has developed her art closely linked to the isolation of her childhood. From a very early age, she found a haven in painting as an escape to her interior isolation. These collage describe her emotional struggles, including feelings of isolation, quest for identity, and the way she relates to others; situations that can be pertinent to any person in today's reality. Her themes are a compendium of situations as universal and complex as life itself. She touches upon private matters such as couples' interactions, mother and child connections, with the broadspectrum background quest of one's place in the world. Evalena Friedman is a Chicago-based playwright, director, actor, educator, poet, and storyteller. While wearing these many hats, Evalena has had the pleasure of working with Lifeline Theatre, A Red Orchid Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre (LookOut series), Prop Thtr, Curious Theatre Branch, Strawdog Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists, Dandelion Theatre, NoMads Art Collective, and the Poetry Foundation. You can find her work on the National New Play Network’s New Play Exchange and at

Diana Hurlburt is a librarian, writer, and Floridian in upstate New York. Selections of her short work can be found at phoebe, Memoir Mixtapes, Saw Palm, and Luna Station Quarterly, and in the anthology Equus. Catch her on Twitter @menshevixen for iced coffee, ponies, and book chatter! Madeline Mecca is a college student from Upstate New York, studying photography and writing. She is fueled by good music, nostalgia, and everything 1970’s. Stephanie Tom is currently an undergraduate student at Cornell University. Her poetry has either appeared or is forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Sine Theta Magazine, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Hobart, among other places. She has previously been recognized by the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards, and the international Save the Earth Poetry Contest. She was a 2019 winner of the Poets & Writers Amy Award and is the author of Travel Log at the End of the World (Ghost City Press, 2019). When she’s not writing she dabbles in dance, martial arts, and graphic design. Christian Ramsey is a Michigan based photographer who earned her Bachelor of Science from Eastern Michigan University—majoring in both German Language and Photography—and her Master of Fine Arts at Columbia College Chicago. Her Ireland series asks the viewer to immerse themselves into an almost fantastical reality of thick forestry and rich depths of greenery. Christina Rosso is a writer and bookstore owner living in South Philadelphia with her bearded husband and rescue pup. SHE IS A BEAST, her debut collection of feminist fairy tales, was released from APEP Publications in May 2020. Her writing has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. For more information, visit or find her on Twitter @Rosso_Christina. Katey Williams is a poet, visual artist, and aspiring art director from Eugene, Oregon. When she was seventeen she moved from Southeast Asia to the USA and was inspired to bring her passion for poetry and art with her. Her writings are often accompanied with heavy doses of idealism, the supernatural, and the essence of being a woman who’s exploring the idiosyncrasies of the universe. When she’s not writing poetry, she documents mundane activities through journalism. Her strength in words expressed through poetry and prose are united to pursue one goal: to heal.


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