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The Orange and Pink Sunset: Poems from the Chapbook

The cover of The Orange and Pink Sunset: A Sapphic Poetry Chapbook by Ivy L. James.The cover is half orange and half pink. Two feminine hands, outlined in white, are linked by the pinkies.
Cover of The Orange and Pink Sunset

The Orange and Pink Sunset is my sapphic poetry chapbook, releasing 30 April 2024. This collection is themed around my experiences, joys, and difficulties as a lesbian.


My poetry writing style is simple, raw, and understandable. If you like Running Upon the Wires by Kae Tempest, you might like my poetry.


You can preorder the ebook of The Orange and Pink Sunset from Amazon or my store.


Once you preorder, you can enter my presale giveaway! Every giveaway entrant will receive a few exclusive poems that didn't make it into the final manuscript, and one lucky winner will win a swag bag that includes a signed paperback copy!


Content warnings: familial homophobia, religious homophobia, adult language, mild violence/gore, sensual content.



“lesbian” isn’t a bad word

 

First, I identified as bi,

even though I never liked dick.

Everything I did in bed with men was to avoid something else.

I was a strong believer of “It doesn’t matter what’s in someone’s pants”

until I slept with a woman for the first time

            and liked

            every part of it.

 

Later, I identified as sapphic, despite my wife’s insistence that it wasn’t a real label.

I had a hard time saying “lesbian,”

but “sapphic?” Sure.

I knew I liked women,

that had been a constant since I was seven:

watching Sailor Moon, half in love with Neptune;

admiring my first-grade friend Kasey’s new perm;

drawing busty women, one after another, and never a singular man.

 

One February night as I rewatched Arcane, I curved my palms around “lesbian.”

I drew it in, held it close. Gave it a little smooch on the forehead.

It felt like a space heater, soft and warm and cozy. It was Vi. It was Caitlyn. It was me.

I tried it out on my tongue with a joke: “How can I live laugh lesbian in these conditions?”

 

Yesterday, I smoothed a witchy lesbian-pride sticker onto my water bottle.

The orange and pink sunset felt good. Felt right.

It’s not all of me, but it is part of me, and I’m no longer afraid of the word.



I’m not letting go

 

my heart has teeth

 

I bite down and refuse to give up whatever—

whomever—

I love

 

my heart has nails

 

I dig in with both hands,

selfish and greedy

 

my heart growls

 

just try to pry me away,

you bastards,

I dare you

 

my heart is soft with a core of steel

 

you can’t break my grip—

I’ll die before I give up on this;

catch me rotting in the searing sun

before I go to my knees



there goes the sun

 

I was afraid to come out

Because I knew things would be different—worse—

and I was partially right:

My entire family, save one sister, boycotted my wedding.

I’m no longer welcome in church if my wife is with me.

Scripture falls apart when I touch it.

Some things have deteriorated.

 

Yet others stayed the same:

My closest friends remain.

Writing frees me.

The moon waxes and wanes.

 

And others still are better now:

My relationship with that sister is on the mend.

I have a new queer circle of friends who hold me tight.

I can write everything I want to.

I’m honest with the world and with myself.

 

The sun has set on what my life used to be,

there’s no going back,

but that loss allows the stars to shine,

and I’m more at home in the moonlight anyway.



current mood: waning crescent


I wax and wane

like the moon,

rise and fall

with the tide—

each season ushers in

a new version of me,

happy,

sad,

manic,

depressive—

and though I’m not sure why,

you love each phase,

which says more about

how generous you are

than about

how lovable I am.


Advance Praise for The Orange and Pink Sunset

“James’ writing is sweet, candid, and necessary. Her poems tell tales that will undoubtedly be relatable to the queer reader, provoking feelings of sorrow and solidarity both, and gradually fostering a sense of bright, palpable hope. Fresh yet enchantingly familiar, The Orange and Pink Sunset bleeds with authenticity.”

- Rose McCoy, author of When the World Didn’t End

***

“Exquisite joys & sorrows are laid out before you, like rare gems on an offering table right from the jump.

 

Bodyblows & massive hooks to the soul & spine on every page, snatching the air out your lungs, bringing you to tears a time or two on moments that hit so so so near to home, but instilling a craving to keep reading.

 

It ends so sweet, so subtle, so perfect, you go back and read it again. 

 

In short: Ivy L. James offers here a rapturous sermon in the chapel of Sappho, and we should all be ever so grateful for the privilege to take in The Orange and Pink Sunset

 

Just make sure to bring an offering for Saint Sailor Neptune, won’t you?”

- Clem Flowers, author of I Know Nothing But The Night (Bullshit Lit) & KUDZU (Cowboy Jamboree Press)

 

For more writerly and adulty things, you can subscribe to this blog (below).


You can also follow me on TikTok (@AuthorIvyLJames), Instagram (@authorivyljames), Twitter (@AuthorIvyLJames), Facebook ("Author Ivy L. James"), and YouTube ("Author Ivy L. James")! I post about writing, writing romance specifically, adulting, my corgi Pippa Finn, and other fun things.

 

MORE BY ME


Make the Yuletide Gay (lesbian holiday romance):

Border Ctrl+Esc (queer m/f marriage of convenience):

Love, Lorena (sapphic matchmaker/princess romance):

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