Dămfīno Press


Starting in 2015, this was the website for the Dămfīno Press.
Content is from the site's 2015 -2016 archived pages providing just a glimpse of what this site offered its readers / writers / visitors.

Welcome to Dămfīno Press, home to our eponymous literary journal; author design and editing services; writing workshops and events; and occasional random axolotls.

About Us

Dămfīno Press, LLC.is the brain-love-child of Heather Macpherson (Executive Director) and Lea C. Deschenes (Creative Director), who decided that a project including event planning, a literary journal, and an author services business all at the same time would be a fantastic idea. The founders have over thirty years of combined literary experience, including: event coordination, grant writing, web/print/book design, and correcting typos. They mix a pretty good gin and tonic and are currently perfecting a dairy-free cheesecake recipe.

They hope to create a literary empire as a staging platform for future world domination, and plan on dancing throughout the revolution. You are all cordially invited to attend.



Mission Statement

Dămfīno Press exists to defy neat labels, narrow definitions and the tyranny of middle ground. We showcase poetry, essays, reviews & odd bits of language from a diverse and eclectic pool of artists who combine the unexpected with joy in well-crafted language. We don’t care what descriptors get attached to your name or your writing as long as your work is, in our highly subjective opinions, good. Exciting. Head-top-removing. Expressing the inexpressible or illuminating the ordinary with a rare and textured light.

Dămfīno Press publishes work online; offers chapbook, book design, and editing services; and holds writing workshops.

What are we looking for? Dămfīno Press. We agree to disagree. We contradict ourselves. We revel in clashing ideas that hurt our heads in interesting ways.

Really, we're making this up as we go along. It should be a gloriously interesting set of imperfections reaching for artistic utopia. We plan to have a fantastic time attempting the impossible. We hope you enjoy our works-in-progress.

Thread: My daughter, an aspiring poet, alerted me to this site. She was interested in it as a place where she might get her poetry published, but she thought I might be interested in the event planning services being offered. I was in the process of launching an e commerce site selling what I believed were the best round cushion designer dog beds available for the discerning shopper. Why the best? The dog beds were covered with upholstery / drapery designer fabrics from such high end companies as Schumacher, Scalmandre, Kravet etc. The beds would look perfectly at home in a traditionally designed living room. In fact friends who had previewed the beds said the large round dog beds actually looked like floor pillows for people and not dog beds! I end up not hiring Damfino as event planners for the launch, but my daughter did submit a number of poems that were accepted and published on the site. Kudos to her. She was so saddened when Dămfīno Press and its founder's dream of a literary empire as a staging platform for future world domination did not come to be.






Executive Director

Heather J. Macpherson writes poetry and essays from Central Massachusetts where she lives with her husband, writer Dave Macpherson, their six-year old kiddo, and a dog named Fitz. Her work has appeared in several publications including Spillway, OVS, Rougarou, CLARE, Pearl, and The Broken Plate. She has twice been a features editor for The Worcester Review. Heather is a high school teacher and librarian and is currently at work on her second Master’s degree. She hopes to pursue a PhD in Contemporary Poetics.


Creative Director


photo by Jenith Charpentier

Lea Deschenes is a poet and designer who lives in Worcester, MA with her husband Victor Infante and their ferrets, Grimble and Kismet! Ferret of Destiny!

She holds an MFA in Poetry from New England College and her first full-length book The Constant Velocity of Trains was published by Write Bloody Publishing in 2008. After working on her own book, Lea produced the interior layout for over fifty books with Write Bloody Publishing, as well as designing books for Trio House press and Funny Bone Publishing.

She once found a five-leaf clover during a solar eclipse. She does not personally collect antique shoelaces.


Journal Posts


Featured Poet: Sam Cha

Posted on  03/15/2016 by Dămfīno Press Admin

Not General Gao’s

The spider tastes like chicken,says the daring young

Scottish tourist. Villagers started eating spiders when

the Khmer Rouge planted more skulls than rice.

This explains why so many things taste like chicken.


It's hard to keep track of them all. Cane sugar, for

instance, and rum. Chili peppers, corn, potatoes;

tomatoes, tobacco, and coffee. Chocolate,

vanilla. Even the pork dumplings my father


taught me to make—scoop, pat, eggwash, and fold—

little round turbans bristling with garlic and chive.

Mandu, they're called. “Barbarian heads.” We got them

from the Chinese when they invaded us in the tenth


century, Dad said. He sizzled them in hot oil,

dipped them in vinegar and soy—hot bubbly crisp

and gush of salt. The general who invented

mandu burned an army, fried them alive. When he


slept, he dreamt of headless ghosts. He kept on dreaming

even when he was awake. Soon he couldn't tell

who was a ghost and who was not. Headless charred men

spoke to him in the voices of his women, served


his fried chicken, poured his tea, sat giggling in his

lap, and built him one grand house after another.

Soon there were many houses. A city. Cities.

Continents. A whole world. We have always lived here.



Well but one day everywhere like snow or cigarette butts there's James Franco:

in Diagram a poem about a movie about a poem by Frank Bidart, by James Franco

from Graywolf, a new book with the poem from Diagram, by James Franco

“Reading Salinger in Bed with Lindsay—A Short Story” by James Franco

(is very much fiction, all made-up, never happened, protests James Franco)

“Writer of Lohan, not Rider,” is a joke I'm ashamed of. Blame Franco.


And in the Times: “How to Take a Selfie and Love Your Self,” i.e., James Franco

Howl: The Movie, starring James Franco. Hart Crane: The Movie with James Franco

fuck, the world is a sestina and all the lines end with James Franco:

I am writing a reflection of the world. Although why should I give a damn? Frankly—

well, let's not Vanessa Place it. Look, everybody, even James Franco

is dead or dying or waiting to die. Why devote thirty-nine lines to James Franco?


So maybe something easy breezy like Maybelline[1] or Frank O' Hara, rather than a whole sestina about James Franco? James Franco has collapsed! You're in grad school(s), James Franco, please wake up! and Ben Stein intoning Franco? Franco? Franco?

Or something in the way of any other Frank, like, oh, Frank  Stanford or Frank Bidart or Frank Zappa. For example, (spoilers!) in Franco


Stanford's The Battlefield where the Moon says James Franco,

the moon is actually death, and death is named James Franco. 

In James Franco Herbert's Dune, gigantic annelid James Franco

sandworms rear up towards Guild cruisers, open their great Franco

mouths lined with crystalline teeth and chant: we          phalloi of Franco

the bananafish        it is always a perfect day for us,      a jimmying from Franco—


prelude to the afternoon of a sexually aroused gas mask, on James Franco.

Am I just jealous? Well, maybe. I got rejected from Diagram, unlike James Franco.

I am only five months and eleven days younger than James Franco.

Surely, surely, somebody ought to notice me like they notice James Franco?

Surely it is about time, it is past time, I was famous like James Franco?

In the room the women come and go, talking about (who else?) James Franco.


I dunno, I dunno. I have sushi with Lloyd, and he asks me whether I've read James Franco

I hem hedge say Yes. But Lloyd, what do you think of James Franco?

Lloyd says, Well, I don't think he's all that bad, this James Franco. I don't get the hate for Franco.

And I should say: Franco, trochee, Franco-Prussian, frankfurters down the hallway of Franco.

Say: who may interpret for us the sterterous dreams of James Franco.

Say: he wears a suit made out of James Dean tailored by Gucci, that James Franco.


I say:  I am not James Franco nor was meant to be. O Franco,

Franco! Franco Franco Franco? Franco Franco Franco

Franco Franco Franco; Franco, Franco-Franco, Franco, Franco—Franco.

[1]Of course this is Cover Girl but I wanted Maybelline because maybe. Poetic license is all about cosmetics, anyway.



after John Wieners

.-- .... .- - / .... .- - .... / --. --- -.. / .-- .-. --- ..- --. .... -


are you there query

listening query now query

ever query what did you

make query nothing query

everything query


.-.. . - / .-.. .. --. .... -

.-.. . - / - .... . .-. .


ball of mud iron carbon ice stop

spinning stop spinning stop

what crawls query what moves query

what eats stop


.-.. .. ... - . -.


all that is comma has voice stop

stone voice tree voice stop

car voice stop voice of ant stop

yeast stop fever stop of all things

that speak we are the least stop

accident stop protein tumbler click stop

quote cttgaacctt tgtcacccct

cacgttgcac accaaagaca

taccctagtg attaaatgct stop stop stop quote

without which we are silent stop


.. / .- -- / . -. --. .- --. . -.. / .. -. / - .- -.- .. -. --. / .- .-- .- -.-- /

 ..-. .-. --- -- / --. --- -.. / .... .. ... / ... --- ..- -. -.. .-.-.-


heard a tree stop even here comma

in brick and rust comma smoke stop

summer stop cell swell stop

stick stretch sweet stop

seed stop seed seed flutter stop

pigment stop drain stop sap flush stop

shadow of comma wings stop stop stop

to speak as object to speak as thing stop


.-.. .. --. .... - -. .. -. --. / - .-. . .


bright stop bright bright stop warm stop hot stop

char stop ash stop ash ash stop ash


.-- .... .- - / .... .- ... / -- .- -. / .-- .-. --- ..- --. .... -


sunlight stop sags comma tired stop

worn-down runner stop jumps

tired jump stop ice breaks stop

particle by particle stop lost

stop break break stop


.. / .-- .. .-.. .-.. / -- . .-.. - / .. -. - --- / - .... .. -. --. ...


someday I will shed

this human voice stop


- .... . / .-- --- .-. .-.. -.. / -.-. --- -. ... - .- -. - .-.. -.-- /

--. .. ...- .. -. --. / -... .. .-. - .... / - --- / .. - ... / -.. . .- - .... /

.. - ... / ... .. .-.. . -. -.-. .

Sam Cha did his MFA at UMass Boston. He’s been published in a good number of places–most recently over at DIAGRAM, Rattle Poets Respond, Missouri Review Poem of the Week, and RHINO. He lives, writes, edits, and teaches in Cambridge, MA.




Poem: What You Left Behind

Posted on  03/14/2016 by Dămfīno Press Admin

Based on a 1973 photograph of UpStairs Lounge arson victim Rev. William Larson, uncredited

It’s weightless, really,

peeling like paint on a decades-old wall,

the shirt on your arm.  Your right hand

gesturing politely to the fireman

sweeping up the bits of you that didn’t stay on:


wait, please, a moment

there are people watching


wanting that last minute of privacy,

of cool breeze through an open window.


The morning is dingy, soot-stained,

the sun particulating through the grainy haze.

Not enough to even cast a shadow

or summon a ghost to remain

after they finally unsolder your skin

from those bars.


What’s left behind sears the eyes

of onlookers gawking from one story down:

your bald, blistered scalp, a naked shoulder.


The sickly smell of char.  The silence.

—Issa M. Lewis

Issa M. Lewis is graduate of New England College’s MFA in Poetry program and currently teaches composition at Davenport University.  She was the 2013 recipient of the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and her poems have previously appeared in publications such as Tule Review, Jabberwock, Blue Lyra ReviewPearl, and Naugatuck River Review.


Poem: Fucking a Fisherman in Seward, Alaska

Posted on  03/07/2016 by Dămfīno Press Admin

“Wanna lay down?”
he asks, and you, English major
and struggling writer, have to bite
your tongue to keep
from correcting his grammar,
but you lie beside him,
his fleece jacket smelling of wood smoke
and water. When he kisses you
you taste salt, wind, the damp barnacles
clinging beneath the boat.

You weep before it’s over,
your face smeared against his shoulder.
It’s the blues that do you in,
the steady shuffling of waves,
the way the sky reflects the bay
as the boat tosses you like a baby
and then curls you up, fetal position.
All these years and you still
long to escape back to the womb.

“Honey,” he calls you. “Darling.” He’s
forgotten your name but so have you,
lost as you are in the blues and grays,
the slippery feel of water, the persistent
reek of fish and grit and rain.
“Stay,” he says, but you are already gone,
back to your house where you’ll eat
boxed macaroni and cheese and stare
out at the bay, the water,
the white-shadowed mountains
rising up like God, like the holy land,
like a promise you forgot to make,
the one you still won’t let yourself receive.

—Cinthia Ritchie 

Cinthia Ritchie writes and runs mountain trails in Alaska. She’s a two-time Pushcart Press nominee and recipient of a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award, Connie Boochever Fellowship,  Brenda Ueland Prose Prize and residencies at Hedgebrook and Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Find her work at Best American Sports Writing 2013Sport Literate, Mary: A Journal of New Writing, Evening Street Review, Water-stone Review; New York Times Magazine, damselfly press, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, The Boiler Journal, Cactus Heart Press, Memoir, Little White Poetry Journal, Sugar Mule 42opus, Ghoti, Breadcrumb Scabs, Miller’s Pond and Third Wednesday. Her first novel, Dolls Behaving Badly, released from Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group.





Submission Guidelines

NOTE 07/03/16: Submissions will be closed from September 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016. 

  • Please actually read all of this before you send us anything. If your submission doesn’t follow these guidelines, it will not be read by our editors. If you don’t follow the submission guidelines, No One Is Happy, and what fun is that?
  • We publish lyrical essays, poetry book reviews, and poetry. We might be up for something unique that defies categorization that’s 1 – 5 pages long. We do not publish fiction of any kind.
  • Surprise us.
  • While we strive to keep ourselves open stylistically, the editors are generally uninterested in the following things:
    • Form poems in which the form takes precedence over the content. Seriously, if you’re going to send us form poems make sure your ballad’s rhyme scheme does not resemble an anvil chorus clanging along, and your sestina end words have a point other than repetition. Hell bent on sending form poems? Better think Maxine Kumin.
    • Formatting that does not add to content. If you’re going to make us spend hours adjusting spacing and/or alignment or adding footnotes, it had better be important enough that we want to risk carpal tunnel to bring your vision to life. This also applies to “fun” fonts (they aren’t) and center justification (it’s cheesy). If your poem only works on letter-sized paper, we can’t do it justice on a web page.
    • Anything insular enough to be unintelligible to persons outside the author’s head.
    • Anything that would make a great greeting card or after-school special script.
    • Travelogues of foreign countries that serve to illuminate the angst of well-off white people against “exotic” backgrounds.
    • Any writing generated solely to show the upstanding-ness of the author by his or her emphatic demonstration of basic human empathy. We are not interested in giving you a cookie for failing to be a jerk to others.
    • Didactic, strident professions of any “-ism”. preaching to the choir. It’s cool that you believe what you believe, but we like our persuasion personal, nuanced, and complicated.  If you’re spouting the party line verbatim, we’ve heard it before.
    • Hateful speech against a person or group. This generally also includes bitter break-up poems whose sole purpose is to demonstrate what an asshole your ex was. They may well have been a cheating, lying so-and-so, but we don’t find their black-hatted turpitude that interesting in a literary sense.
    • Snobbery. Masturbatory indulgence in cleverness for the sake of cleverness. Name-dropping and extraneous references that do not illuminate the subject. Attempts to justify your student loan payments by making sure everyone knows how damn smart you are. If you require three made-up words to state your thesis, we’ll pass.
    • Cheap, mechanical erotica.  Listing body parts makes us yawn. The objectification of women pisses us off.
    • Transparent, uncredited imitations of another writer. The original is generally better. What do you have to say?
  • Work we are emphatically interested in:
    • Work that is actually good. Exciting. Head-top-removing. Expressing the inexpressible or illuminating the ordinary with a rare and textured light.
    • New & funky language remixes.
    • Unusual points of view.
    • Synthesis of disparate elements &  cognitive dissonance: Hurt our brains! Hurt ‘em good! Uniquely personal takes on unimaginably huge subjects.
    • Quirky humor, or, for that matter, quirky sadness. We like quirky across the range of human experience.
    • How you love what you love with all your twisted little heart. Weird science poems? Love it! A treatise on the use of Jungian Archetypes in anime? We’re in! How the Great Vowel Shift affects our interpretation of Shakespeare? Sure! Try to explain your particular area of geekiness to a general audience so well we all fall in love with it through you.
  • Send (1) email to [email protected] with the subject header “Submission: , , ” e.g. “Submission: Jane Doe,  Essay, “Ode to an Axlotl”. If you would like to send both an essay and poems, please send them as separate submissions.
  • Do not submit more than one essay and/or one group of poems per six-month period. Deluging us with email makes for cranky editors, who are likely to not publish you out of sheer spite. Repeat offenders will be banished to the spam folder. Also, please don’t add us to your mailing list unless we expressly ask to be added. Do not send us solicitations.
  • Include a short bio and cover letter at the top of your email. We do not need to see: your entire C.V.; your educational history; your list of tour stops and co-features; blurbs about your work from friends, newspapers, or the nominally famous; an exhaustive inventory of every journal in which you have previously been published. Maybe tell us what you had for breakfast? Or that you have an awesome collection of antique shoelaces?
  • Make sure your submission includes no more than (3) three poems or (1) one essay. Paste your work in the body of the email with a horizontal line between poems. Attach (1) one MS Word, Open Office, Google Doc, or Adobe Acrobat file so we can check the formatting if we’re interested. We prefer to read submissions in 12pt. font (at least one of us needs bifocals)—something boring but serviceable like Arial, Times New Roman, or Helvetica.
  • No simultaneous submissions or previously published work. We define previously published work  as work that has appeared online in a public forum, web site, or blog; or in print.
  • We ask for the right to publish your work online, archive the work as published, and to reprint published poems in future anthologies. Authors whose work is reprinted in an anthology will receive a payment of (1) one copy of the anthology in which their work appears.
  • It’s fine to send us a query email at [email protected] if you haven’t heard from us after 30 days. Please allow us a few days to respond, we may be off Having A Life.
  • Until such time as we are not broke, we can only pay in publication credits, ego boo(sts), and our gratitude.