A Poem by Leila Ortiz

Apogee Journal wants to celebrate the relatively recent publication of Leila Ortiz’s two chapbooks A Mouth is Not a Place (Dancing Girl Press, 2016) and GIRL LIFE (Recreation League, 2017)!

I first learned of Leila Ortiz’s poetry in 2015, when staffing the booth at the Annual New York City Poetry Festival on Governors Island. There I was, not-so-sneakily splitting a spliff, when I caught the inflection of her voice; she was reading a selection of poems for our beloved colleagues (and contributors) at No, Dear Magazine. Her presentation was so extraordinary, that she pulled me away from the merchandise I was supposed to sit with. Our friendship was instantaneous. I may be Bronx-born, but when I think of the poetry of my Crooklynese gente, Leila Ortiz is it. Her nuance and subtlety, her ability to phase-shift across registries of coded rhetoric, positions Ortiz at the forefront of innovation of the written word happening in Brooklyn. She is a social worker in a NYC public school and is a diehard New Yorker by birth whose observations of this city’s transformation inform us of past and future.

~Joey De Jesus

In celebration of Ortiz’s two new chapbooks, Apogee Journal is excited to share her poem “River” from Issue 06:



Leila Ortiz


Prince of wildlife
and parched mouth.
The still eye
and the wandering
eye. Twitch of lip
and teardrop
filling cornea.
I don’t care
about cocaine
mixed with
sedatives. I care
about mourning
your long gone
smell. I plead with god
and dirt paths:
Let me live
with sadness.
Why do I love you
as if you were limb,
my own broken
pinky, swelling
in the dark?


Purchase A Mouth is Not a Place here and GIRL LIFE here, (the latter has a limited run of 100 copies, so act quickly.)


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