Cactus Heart seeks new and original poetry, fiction, nonfiction, & art/photography. Send us work that is sharp, relentless, coursing with energy and able to thrive in the harshest of places, all while maintaining a vulnerable, succulent interior. Make us swoon.

The specifics: We are a quarterly e-magazine, published as a full-color PDF. We also produce two print versions each year, separate from the e-Issues. For both electronic and print issues, we acquire first-time publication rights until the journal is published; after publication, rights revert to the author/artist. Payment for publication is a free copy of the issue in which your work appears.

What Our Editors Want to See


Do send:
-Stories in which transformation occurs.
-Characters who want things, who love things, who lose things, who blunder.
-Stories with tension.
-Quirky love stories.
-Subtle stories.
-Lyric stories.
-Stories that explore the collision of wild and ordinary.
-Non-linear stories. (I like linear too, but it depends on the story—form should follow function.)
-Stories that use language really well (keep in mind, I used to be a poet).
-One last, to interpret as you will: In stories, I want to see the crash. I want to see the sky light up.

Don’t send:
-Female characters who only exist as ex-strippers/bartenders/next-door neighbors with perky, perfect breasts.
-Gratuitous violence or aggressive sexuality.
-Anything homophobic.
-Anything overtly religious.
-Stories in which nothing happens.
-Stories not set in scene.
-Stiff or overly explanatory dialogue.
-Stories riddled with typos and bad grammar.


Do send:
-poems with a clear narrative (I love when poems tell a story in as few words as possible)
-crisp, lean images deployed with economical style and language
-sharp dialogue, subtle humor, short lines that leave me gasping
-extra points if your poem incorporates scientific language or interesting facts (even if those facts are fictitious)

Do not send:
-rhyming poems
-letters to your most recent ex (unless it is a very inventive letter)
-poems riddled with abstract and vague words such as “love,” “desire,” “pain,” and “sorrow”
-poems whose sole purpose is to be as shocking or offensive as possible
-fonts designed to look like a child’s handwriting or cursive
-colorful or patterned background templates or borders


Do Send:
-Essays of all kinds: Narrative, lyric, collage, memoir, research-based, experimental, reflective, suggestive, idea-driven, etc.
-Something fresh (in form, approach, subject matter, anything)
-Nuance, detail, masterful use of language
-Essays that move, surprise, provoke thought
-Essays that get down to the nitty-gritty
-Essays that contain multitudes

Don’t Send:
-Anything misogynistic


Do send:
-comics, paintings, sketches, photographs (but not too many photos, please), collages, ink work, pencil work, photos of your blood work, etc etc! Be creative and risky
-digitial is great! a scan of analog is great!

Do not send:
-uninteresting nature photos
-landscapes without drama
-anything boring or blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, or mean


**Be aware that anything containing racism, sexism, ableism, body-shaming, or any other form of objectification or oppression will go straight into the reject pile, unless those structures are incorporated in a way that examines or challenges them.


We are currently closed for submissions.

*Please note: We only accept submissions through our online submission manager. DO NOT email your submissions. *

{Cactus Heart is on Duotrope—if you use their service, please help us by reporting your response time.}submit