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Jona L. Pedersen – phoenix: Work

Jona L. Pedersen – phoenix


we met for the first time in another life.

I was a dancer in Pompeii,

you were a river.

I threw gold coins into your waters, and

you made my wishes come true. but,

doomed from the start, Vesuvius

swept you away—turning

my home to ashes.

we wouldn’t meet again

until my next life. yet,

in the ruins of time, Apollo

still comes by to play

our song; my stone body

still reaching for your

quiet rush.


in my next life

I become a dove

and build my nest in the towers

of the Notre-Dame. during the fire,

I rise from the ashes of the gargoyles

which once sheltered me.

I hear your voice from the crowd

gathering around the crumbling cathedral:

hold your heart high

so I may see it through

the flames,

and I fly so high

I’m taller than mountains;

I ride the fire’s thermal lift

so so high, nothing will ever

bring me down.


followed by a trail of gasoline,

we cross paths in a thousand lives.

finally, when the world ends,
we meet for the last time:

by the ruins of the Mountain King’s Hall,

there is a lake where we go fishing and

I feel the line of my rod

like the pull of a bandalore.

I reel in a goldfish.

something in me longs to

tame it—in this last life,

in this last world, this is

the last gold, the last fire.

but you tell me, “you should set it

free.” so I release my fish

back into the water. its gilded tail

melts into the depths.

this last night on Earth, we go

skinny dipping, racing each other

to shore. “you did the right thing,”

you say, heaving for air

with water lilies tangled

in your hair.

below us, fractured gold

dances as the lake

ripples. I reach my hand

into the water. the goldfish

resurfaces from the depths,

brushing its body against my skin.

its touch burns, like yours, as we

watch it swim through


the last world burns

in our wake. but,

in a final exhale, we find

gold in our voices,

gold in our teeth:

two golden hearts.

Jona L. Pedersen – phoenix: Work

Jona L. Pedersen is a recent graduate from the University of North Dakota, with a B.A. in English and B.S. in Fisheries & Wildlife Biology. With one foot in the arts and one in the sciences, their interest in biology often seeps into their writing. Their work appears in Floodwall Literary Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, The Allegheny Review, and Greenway Press. Find them on Twitter (@JonaLPedersen) or their website (

Jona L. Pedersen – phoenix: Work

Artwork: Girl on the Edge of Town by Bethy Williams

Bethy Williams is an artist, an autodidact, an arrangement of information in spacetime, and a native and permanent resident of the Milky Way galaxy. She is the creator of the ongoing webcomic The Adventures of Siân and Errol (And Other Stories). She lives and works in Wilton, New Hampshire.

Jona L. Pedersen – phoenix: Work
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