Recently I was gifted with an advance copy of the poetry anthology SMITTEN. I was intrigued upon hearing that all of the poems had one theme: the exploration of love between women. 46 more words
Thank you so much to Christy Birmingham of http://www.whenwomeninspire.com for this incredible review of SMITTEN due out Fall, 2019. Please read the full review and consider following http://www.whenwomeninspire.com as it’s an incredible site and Christy is a remarkable woman.
I see your pictures on social media
a part of me is envious
of your freedom
even though women many years before
either of us
had absolutely no freedom and only those
with enough money could consider taking
a woman as their lover
it is hard to imagine
each generation I suspect
forgets the sacrifices of the last
cannot envision a time when
it was illegal to love
my experience was never that awful
I had freedoms many women still do not possess
and I am grateful for that
but sometimes when I see your
youthful face and the grace with which you accept love
how natural and easy it feels
I recall how I began
hiding in dark bars, trying to fit in, failing
never one to play endless games of poker face
I didn’t fit in with my own kind then
but if I’d been you
born in the sun with your turquoise eyes like the Donovan song
I might have had on my arm
a whole host of dreams and not
dabbled in boys for a few futile and unhappy years or
felt I couldn’t have had children and let
my fear and my constraint decide for me
you are the age my daughter might be
and I would like to think I’d have
done all you have done had I been born
in a time of greater acceptance where
women who love women can grow their hair
and not have to cling to stereotypes or subterfuge
carrying knots of shame and confusion
like blankets never stretched out and slept on
I would have gotten a tattoo and maybe
been less shy and apologetic
I remember at 18 that’s all I seemed to do
sorry to my family for not having turned out straight
sorry to my friends for being the odd one out
sorry to the gays on the march who thought
with my dresses and my long tresses I was a weekend
if they only knew
what it took and what I sacrificed
maybe they understand now
but we’re all a little older and
you don’t recapture what you felt at 18
you remember it like a language
I spoke the language of trial and error
I suspect you speak the language of love
just a little freer
so forgive me if I envy you as you walk past me
hand in hand, laughing, the edges of your hair
hitting your waist
like a Summer tidal wave.
SMITTEN – This is What Love Looks Like – Poetry by women for women – an anthology of poetry published by Indie Blu(e) will be out OCTOBER 2019 and available through all good book sellers. Please consider following SMITTEN’s FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/
If you are interested in supporting this project in any way please contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. All LGBTQ projects are a little more challenging to succeed and we want the 120_+ poets who have work in SMITTEN to be read by many! Indie Blu(e) and their submissions rules can be found at www.indieblu.net
When I’m not telling people
I am the least competitive person you’ll meet
I shouldn’t have moved to America, I am an anathema
I am nevertheless, competing with myself
the breakage, subtle and merciless of my whole
appears to be my greatest talent
should they look me up in the dictionary
I would stare out bleakly at Consequences in Fetus of Nicotine In-Utero
it began before words were formed, a slow
incompleteness quite unlike the robust energies
of my relatives
a thin, wan girl, slow to learn, I made up for it by being sporty
denying the gnawing, gnarling pain in my stomach
was more than a night terror
swimming for medals was competitive after all but
didn’t feel so when, head under water, the cheers sounded
like waves breaking on distant shores, easy to forget
noxious rinse of chlorine in verruca filled inner-city
swimming pool where small measure of fame could be found
among cast-off plasters.
Beneath water I felt powerful, unmolested, not burdened
by sandwich of pain in my gut or how
no-one for me sitting among keening spectators
when I came up for air.
Since then, fantasy has been my succor, I can’t deny it
perhaps I have lived half in petri-dish and tree house
with ‘here be dragons’ written on its door.
When teachers told me; I wasn’t behaving like a good girl
I said ‘make me‘ and spent the afternoon kicking muddy
kid shoes against linoleum hallways
what do they think we imagine as, willful, disobedient, opinionated
we are shunted from our positions as ‘well behaved’ to the
shrine of sinners lost in plastic corridors?
We learn the company of other Reparates
is oddly comforting, no-one to remind us we cannot
make sense of numbers and still struggle with spelling
soon I gave up trying for A’s
locking lips with strange boys who wanted my best friends
instead of this disinterested girl
briefly kissing felt like swimming underwater
but coming up for air was much harder.
I am teleported now into a body and time I never imagined
surviving this long or sitting at this table, watching birds
battle their pecking order outside in a hostile green world
I rarely visit
it’s not reluctance or shyness, they have grown comfortable with
the shifting skin of me
something that happens when you begin to leach
that essence of youth and vigor
realizing, if you can make it out of bed today
you’re doing better than the day before.
I hear in my head, the scold of my mother
who believed I gave myself this illness
and much as they’ve told me that’s madness
I am often found returning to those words
as if they have some clammy power over me
which of course, they do.
I know I was well and then I was not
just like you can remember the day you lost your virginity
or survived a car accident or inherited a country cottage
it’s a day when colors and sounds change
in this case, terror walked into my throat
sucking on me, whispered; bitch, this is your new normal.
Fight as I may, these years have unfolded like those
paper flowers I used to buy in joke stores
put them in water and watch them bloom
only long enough before turning to ink and
wet tree pulp
it’s a form of flaying when strangers are kinder than
those you expect
angry with yourself for not learning sooner
expectation leads to disappointment.
This could be why I didn’t
enter many races or attempt to claw my way to the top (of what?)
better to stay low and wait it out until
you can have your turn
only sometimes, waiting uses up all the time you have left
then it’s almost too late and you have to change
Nowadays I compete with myself
can I cure the beast that’s become constant companion?
Will it matter if I do?
What happens afterward?
Fear is mauve and dives and swoops like unmated Mockingbird
I hear the kitchen clock and fast thud of my tired heart
Somewhere, I’m still the girl in the treehouse who says ‘make me’
perhaps one day it won’t be disappointment but
something lovely, I can only hope
though my body likes to punch me in the gut
as I fall asleep and try to dream
thump, thump, thump, my mother’s voice
this was something you did wrong
thump, thump, thump, my own voice
no it wasn’t this was an explosion taking the long way around
even getting half way there would be some kind
which is why I always said it’s not about winning
but making the effort
to which I was told, that’s pretty negative foreign-born-girl.
Where’s your sense of spunk? I think I lost it somewhere between
throwing up for 4 months on end and the doctors saying
maybe it’s incurable…. ho ho ho …. you see
I’m not from here, I don’t belong
though where I came from I hardly know anymore
so I will forge ahead, outcast or survivor, pick a damn straw
with every passing year I realize
I can’t win, I but I will fight
MAKE ME I whisper to myself
bloody well try to MAKE ME stop.
Thank you to the incredible Kristiana Reed for this advance review of SMITTEN, Indie Blu(e)’s latest poetry anthology which will be published this Fall.
Candice Daquin and the editors at Indie Blu(e) Publishing have worked their magic once more in raising a powerful chorus of voices.
Daquin is a woman who has always sought to empower others from the first moment I became acquainted with her work and her nature. I also cannot think of a better person and writer to spearhead a body of work which celebrates love between two women.
The writers and styles within this collection, which Daquin has woven seamlessly together, are varied – eclectic and powerful yet with the same, strong undercurrent coursing through every piece that this is what love looks like.
It is possible people will read the sub-heading of SMITTEN and assume this is an exclusive collection; only accessible if you are woman who loves or has loved a woman. But, what is truly wonderful is this isn’t true at all. Instead, SMITTEN holds and nurtures love poems to be read and enjoyed by anyone. After all, for centuries, we have consumed and enjoyed love poems written about women, by men. Why should the fact that the poet is a woman cause the response to be any different?
‘Testimony’ by Carolyn Martin is one of the best examples of this. The nature of love and relationships does not suddenly change if it is not heterosexual; the essence of loving someone beyond belief even on the days they annoy you to distraction, remains.
However, even though SMITTEN is not exclusive, it must be recognised as an anthology paving a new way for literature. All of the writers are female and all of the subject matter is female, lesbian, bisexual and more. Pieces such as ‘Lesbian’ by Avital Abraham and ‘Pulse’ by Melissa Fadul drive home why Daquin’s decision to create a collection like this is needed and welcomed.
Too often we sideline LGBTQ+ work as a genre of its own, when it should be mainstream; literary works which are written by people to be enjoyed by people, no matter what their race, sexuality, gender and/or religion.
Yet, until this happens, I applaud Daquin and Indie Blu(e) Publishing for brazenly making a stand. Until labels are but words and not identifiers, it is important that writers like those in this collection share their voices and stories, ever-lasting love and heartbreak, and their hopes and fears, to remind the literary world they will be heard, no matter what the response may be.
Kristiana Reed August, 2019.
SMITTEN will be available this Fall via all good book sellers. For bulk orders, ARC copies or more information please contact Candice Daquin or Indie Blu(e) directly or go to the SMITTEN Facebook website
A warbling, holding, green glass pain
Like joined hands make paper cut
Invisible like girl in crowd, falls
Deep as ink without light
Stinging with clamoring cymbal
Tears almost bare themselves as first night lovers, tremorous
Retreat beyond the naked streets
It is not brutal gnashing strength
But soft lipped resignation
And a little elipsing hope
For bare faced ceasement
Lain like prayers and rushes and thrown flowers wetting paving stones
No ceremony. Only, black cars devoid of dust
A trail without salt. They bent lower to seek. Not yet.
It’s hard to say it. The wind chokes words. Before.
We walk on. Omphalos in fatigued lament
Toward reprieve, illuminate in muted tempest.
It’s the fantasy
something out of summer, as you’d dream it
bare legs tucked beneath white cotton and trimmed thick lace
laughing clavicle, slipping straps
the long necked wonder of descending evening
that sting on skin from days in sun
I’ve been here before
the last time, I lay beneath a boy with cut glass eyes
who bought me flowers from the night market
before they bombed Bali and innocence was our town
wearing a sarong of blood red and mustard, half grown
walking beaches at night fall, crabs coming up through sand
scuttling into still water, the recede and ebb of thought
knowing he wasn’t the one, still desiring the idea
of love and its myriad faces, the strange places we
take ourselves to feel alive, writhing beneath
his pinion and faith, you’ll stay with me, I’ll
make you like my kind, turn your eyes away
from the obsidian girls who set out sacrifices for Gods
orange petals, I am thinking of her beneath clothes
watching from hibiscus waves, will she learn to
secret away her longing in the deep pockets of
a sarong too wide for any more tucking?
what do we know? We’re just kids building sand castles
on empty beaches and he takes my hand and asks;
let’s keep going until we fall off the world
Please, let yourself, just pretend …
the wild of saying, yes I’ll follow you
travel the globe, searching stones for blood
finding in things that feel wrong, another direction.
Now I have come full circle
we’re not old, but we’re not angular children
thin boned and boundless on their bikes
dream life filling xylophone chests
her eyes are hurt by his stories, I can tell
even as I am the fantasy and the observer
thrown off scent by, my painted toe nails and sunlit hair
the slope of day closing like a picture album
grass like cat fur beneath naked toes
bent wrists spent of expression, limply wait
for electric cumulus as thirst penitent may
befriend dry river bed
I want to say to her; Don’t be trapped any longer
pick up and run away, half flung around the globe
leave the mounting regrets at your door, with the disappointed
find your self again, diving into the gleaming future
sleek as a wet dog will shine beneath and shake off
water weight when back on land
because you can, you know
it’s not written until you write it.
Here … take my hand, I’ll help you
and we jump, weightless
her short nails digging into the soft of my palm
read my future, she whispers into my neck
her breath is cherry, her eyes smudged black
I see the ransack
all the reasons she snarled and bit
for she made it this far, don’t push her
let her furnish in her own time, a place of grace
where light pours pure and undiluted
onto her heavy shoulders, hunched with rage
let it go
you don’t have to be here anymore
we catch the tail wind and it is warm
she murmurs, her eyes wide and seeking
the whole world awaits