top of page

Featured Poet: Emily Murtoff

I first encountered Emily's writing at the Blacklisted Poets open-mic (held weekly on Thursdays at HMAC) which she co-hosts. Her potent combination of honest sensuality and empowered feminism are often delivered with a smile, hinting that she is as charmed by the lethal saccharine in her verses as the audience.

To experience Emily's work live, look for her events with the Harrisburg Writers Group, including workshops and a quarterly reading at Elementary Coffee, the next of which will be held Friday, January 13th.

Subscribe to It's Always Saturn on Google, iTunes, or Spotify to catch her on an upcoming episode!


i have moved everything,

including most of myself.

old paintings are hung in fresh places.

a bed frame is slid from one corner

to another, and back again.

a bookshelf takes its fifth home,

and settles on crisp cardboard shims.

the windows face north now,

inviting an unfamiliar afternoon warmth.

sun-drenched leaves twist and wiggle

like infant fingers

upon waking from a dream

their eyelids unfurling

encounter new light.

tiny palms unfold

to meet the world,

for the first time, again.

curtains slide onto rods,

shoes are unpacked

and stacked neatly on the closet floor.

we do this for the promise.

acting on the faith that

things will be better this time,

we fill empty boxes,

walk them down the hall,

and empty them, again.

if we didn’t believe

in something like growth,

something like evolution,

or something like cosmic


we would leave the art

off the walls, let the bed

in a less ideal corner,

keep the shoes in the suitcase

and continue

making it work

but as it is, i have moved everything,

including most of myself,

to make room

for another chance

at something holy.


There is water on the moon where my lover is from

Bathed in blue light

you must be some kind of alien.

Your jointless arms

buoyed by couch cushions crest

over me and crash back

like the swirl of a galaxy,

the long twist of infinity.

Fingers like antenna

find spine, trickle down.

Your clunky knee carves out

my thighs like a crater’s edge,

slender shin to hairy ankle

and we tangle like wires.

Beneath a smooth expanse of belly,

four-fingered hand

finds warm lake, dips in.

We swim in static and smoke,

your oval eyes, deep and dark,

search mine, and spill,

become pools reflecting

and collecting my earthly glow.

You radiate or are irradiated.

Colorblind, you say,

though your skin is green

and polished from moonstone.

Above television stutter,

you gasp a half-human breath

through slim fish lips

that pucker when I tell you I love you.


Los Angeles, 2019

I should have known

when you showed up

to the greenest summer

L.A. had seen in these

dozen drought years,

and you only had black

& white film in your pack.

I should have known then

when you laughed in the face

of the pinkest flower

I’d ever seen —

That you would be the flood

that swept me clear,

took out my debris,

carried away my trees,

dragged stones to make gulleys

in my teeth and bones,

until I was all black

& blue.

I should have known then

in the City of Angels —

that you would leave

me for dead

in the desert.

But lying there on the red rock,

dust rising around

my ravaged limbs,

like flames catching,

like a racecar circling, spiraling

out of control — Then, then,

I should have known —

That I would grow back green,

fuschia & gold —

That I would catch like kindling,

then pour forth like water;

That I would be reborn.

That I was a phoenix far before I met you.


Emily Murtoff is a Harrisburg-based poet and writer and founder of the Harrisburg Writers Group, which holds weekly workshops and various poetry and music events throughout the year. Emily is also a co-host of the Blacklisted Poets, a long-standing poetry open mic in Harrisburg. Emily's current creative focus is on building a platform and community for young and upcoming writers and musicians in her city. You can read more of Emily's poetry on Instagram at @Emily_Murtoff.


If you'd like to be featured in Raven Rabbit Ram, please send your poetry, art, essays, short stories, music, video, or other ideas to!

bottom of page