In the New Year I am going to do something drastic. I’m going to close all my social media down and take the majority of my books/work offline/out of bookstores. The work that will remain is what I’m most proud of; SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like (an anthology, 2019), We Will Not Be Silenced (one of 4 editors/contributors, 2018) and Pinch the Lock (Finishing Line Press, 2016).
When I began, I really believed I could contribute something valuable to the world through the medium of writing. I saw many other people trying but I did not know how many and since 2015 I have seen that there is a glut of people all self-publishing, indie publishing, small press publishing, all with the same ‘dream’ of being a legit writer. Mostly wasting hours on social media futilely. I realize 99.9 percent will never be. The only ones who can do it are those on disability, who get a cheque without needing to work, or supported by husband/wife/family or you’re a retiree. If you DO have to work for a living then it’s rare you can put in enough work to even get to the indie publishing stage.
There are exceptions. One of my real friends whom I did meet on social media works full time and is one of the hardest workers I know. She will succeed I have no doubt about it. She goes home from a hard days work and produces consistently some of the best work I’ve read online. People like her are rare. They are one in a million. Others have the talent to do it but it will depend upon if they have the time to make it happen (you know who you are) but the vast majority have neither the talent, nor the ability to make it happen.
When I began writing I thought I was a pretty good writer. When you read some of the stuff online it’s easy to see why I thought that, a lot of it is really poor quality. On the other hand you need to be either absolutely brilliant or someone who is in the know, to get a really big publisher. I am neither absolutely brilliant nor ever going to be someone who is in the know/networked up to the hilt. Even those who everyone talks about as having a ‘good publisher’ actually don’t. They just secretly vanity press pay or exaggerate how much they actually earn. To earn a living wage as a writer unless you are an editor, it’s the 1 percent of the 1 percent.
I don’t want to be an editor. It’s a thankless job and underpaid. I have qualifications and I am going to use those and return to my previous career, hard as it is, it can earn me what I will need to take care of myself in the future. Maybe no job will be different, maybe I will always be taken for granted and used but I want to do it on my own terms. I have always supported myself from the age of 18 and I always will until I cannot any longer. I have never had any help.
Lastly, most of you don’t know but I was recently diagnosed with a very serious eye-condition that means I am losing my sight. I realize I have to adjust NOW rather than when it is completely gone. I doubt I will still want to live if I go completely blind and I have decided if that day comes I will elect for euthanasia as I am not someone who wishes to live as a completely blind person. Especially as I have no family who will care for me. However, if that day doesn’t come or it gives me 20 more years, (which is unlikely) I still need to change my life to ensure my eyes do not worsen.
As some of you know I had battled a serious illness in 2017 which radically changed my life. It was caused by a virus and I am still sick with it but I have learned to live with it and am high functioning despite it not having completely gone. I believe it will one day completely go but it is a long painful battle. I thought that was enough to deal with but in addition to this my mother told me she no longer wanted me in her life ever again. She and I have had our ups and downs but naively I thought as she aged we would get closer. I have always loved her very much even though she was not in my life that much. When she told me this during my illness, effectively kicking me when I was down, it was the last straw. She knew she’d hurt me as badly as she could ever hope for. She succeeded. To protect myself I accepted what she said and have tried to get on with my life knowing she will not be part of it. It has hardened me and I am bitter about it but I will never be as cruel to someone else as that. I will never succumb to cruelty to deal with my own pain.
On a positive note, I am stronger for all of this. But having the eye sight issue on TOP of all of the above, was just too much. I do have it in me to change my life. I have decided to once more change my life. I am not going to carry around the rejection, fear and grief of her hate of me or anything else, anymore. When I began my blog/writing in 2015 I felt it was a chance to try my hand at writing. I don’t regret doing that but I see now realistically I have to move on.
If you know me, truly know me, and have my number and my address and we talk, then I am bound to call you real friend and will keep in touch. When you get sick you realize who your friends are and it is a good clarity. For those of you I call friends thank you for your friendship and I hope we keep in touch. We may not as we may no longer have anything in common but I wish you all much success.
SMITTEN will be my last personal project in the publishing world for the foreseeable future, although I have also been involved in YOU DON’T LOOK SICK and hope Indie Blu(e) recognizes me for that when it is published next year. SMITTEN is a wonderful ending to this chapter in my life. It is a testimony to the talent of women when they come together. Just because we are minorities doesn’t mean we support each other and lift each other up. I hope projects like SMITTEN help future women do JUST THAT because THAT is what is needed. We need to be good to one another! To support one another!
I want to personally thank the following whom I have met on WP for their loyalty, friendship, goodness and inspiration. I think you are incredible human beings; Mark. Eric. Derrick. Bob. Crystal. Erik. Jane. Karen. Raili, Rita. Susi. Anthony. Laurie, Tony. Nicole. Tara. Helena. Philip. Sarah. Tremaine & Monique. Thank you to Christine and Kindra for letting me work for Indie Blu(e) I really hope all the work I did helped and you succeed. Rita.
RIP Natalie Scarberry you are loved.
Thank you to anyone who read anything of mine. I appreciate you. I wish you only the best.
Candice Louisa Daquin
Growing up in Europe I didn’t have anything like SMITTEN. My ‘sources’ were hard to find and often took me to oblique and obscure bookstores that had tiny ‘feminism/Lesbian’ (as they were once twinned) sections. Within those sections I found little I could personally relate to. I read Radcliffe Hall’s The Well Of Loneliness, now considered the ‘Bible’ of lesbianism and whether right or wrong, it did set a stage for me, and I loved the style and emotions therein, but over all her book is also very sad, it talks of lesbians as ‘inverts’ who are women trapped inside men’s bodies wishing to live the life men live and love women like men do. That was not my feeling. I was a woman happy to be a woman who wanted to love another woman who was most definitely a woman. (It should be noted many lesbians prefer to identify on the masculine end of the scale and yet identify as masculine women and this is a legit form of love too).
Even now, many years hence, there are divides within the LGBTQ and even lesbian/bi worlds. For some, you are just not considered a lesbian unless you subscribe to some of the dress-code/tough-act code and you are objectified for wanting to take on some of the accoutrement considered ‘heterosexual’ by queers. Likewise, you may be typecast as ‘femme’ (or butch) even in today’s society, as much as anything because since legislation has legalized gay marriage and made it easier in some countries for LGBTQ it has been assumed LGBTQ doesn’t need the same resources and so, there are less lesbian clubs/places to meet than ever before, and more is conducted online which as we all know, can be very hit and miss.
I personally knew of four lesbians who were date-raped when they met their ‘lesbian’ date in real life, after meeting online. In all cases, it was a set-up and there were men involved who took advantage of those women and punished them for being lesbians and not attracted to men. You may think that sounds extreme but having worked at two rape crisis centers I can assure you, it’s as common place now as it was in the seventies. The idea that LGBTQ and lesbians don’t need a ‘safe place’ to meet other like minded people, is too optimistic, it assumes it is now ‘safe’ to be a lesbian, but as any lesbian will tell you, we still fear holding a woman’s hand walking down certain streets. That hasn’t and won’t go away.
Let us not forget, in the vast majority of the world it is still illegal, frowned upon, punished or made impossible to be a lesbian and LGBTQ only pertains to a small percentage of this world in terms of population. If you are an African lesbian, good luck, you risk your life admitting that. So our Western ideas do not apply to the majority of lesbians out there.
Little really good literature is lesbian or LGBTQ, indicative of the stereotyping of LGBTQ literature when it is published and the small minority size of each group. You really have to hunt to find excellent, really well written lesbian literature or poetry. It was my dream to put together a group of authors who embodied love between women and showed the variety and depth of that love. SMITTEN accomplished this with over 120 poets and artists contributing some striking, stirring poems, drawings and thoughts of love and attachment.
SMITTEN was created for those people though I am certain we do not reach nearly enough. But it was my dream that even if we reached a few, even if we reached a girl like myself who went in search of ‘real’ lesbian love in a book store, they could find it. Maybe we haven’t done enough but with every act we hope to raise the consciousness of all people not just LGBTQ. People who may assume because gays have the right to vote and marry and are represented on TV in some countries that they are absolutely free of persecution. This is not the case and while there are many other such minorities who are objectified, ridiculed, stereotyped and minimized, it was my mission to highlight lesbians and women who love women because I am one.
SMITTEN may not have existed when I was really young and had no gay friends, no cohorts who were LGBTQ and no school friends who were even sympathetic or understanding of LGBTQ. I myself didn’t really know enough. I sought refuge in gay bars when old enough but often times found those as judging and uncomfortable as being the only straight. The stereotypes, expectations, reductions and cliches of being a lesbian were as backward among lesbians as among heterosexuals! We had no role-models, nobody to refer to and only a palpable sense of shame emanating from society en mass. Nobody in their right mind wanted their daughter to grow up to be a lesbian, wasn’t that just something that happened like a birth defect or because a mother didn’t do her job right? That was the thinking back then and back then wasn’t ‘that’ long ago!
Consequently I spent more of my youth trying to get by without examining my lesbian identity and enjoying what it could be like to love another woman. I look at photos of very young lesbians now and I envy them their freedom but I am not so naive to assume they are entirely free, as a minute after the photo is taken, they could be beaten up by a mob who didn’t like what they saw. It still happens.
SMITTEN defies the hate, bigotry and misunderstanding of lesbianism. SMITTEN isn’t about women fucking other women for porn. SMITTEN isn’t about stereotypical lesbians created by heterosexual men. SMITTEN isn’t angry and hateful as some feminist backlash can be. SMITTEN is about this: Love IS LOVE.
Please support SMITTEN by gifting it to an LGBTQ person you care about, or buying it for yourself irrespective of your gender and sexual orientation, because love IS love and it transcends everything. If you like poetry, or you support LGBTQ inclusion and visibility then your support of SMITTEN can person by person, change everything. And if you cannot do that, perhaps think of requesting SMITTEN from your local library or purchasing the less expensive Kindle version (although it should be said the print version of SMITTEN is sumptuous!). YOUR support helps little girls growing up today, grow up to have a VERY different outlook in life, one without as much fear and isolation.
SMITTEN is available in print at
SMITTEN is available in KINDLE at
SMITTEN’s authors interviews, poetry readings and photo archive can be found here
With thanks to Indie Blu(e) for taking a chance and publishing this incredible project.
My debt rests in your fur
as they light it
and it burns
and your form shrinks
from this world
your black and white paw limp against my clutching
fingers wishing you here
those images are cookie cut into my mind
called intrusive thoughts and flash-backs
I know them well
they are not my friend as you were my friend
I imagine what you feel and then recall
you no longer feel anything
though that does not seem right
without religion I am left unknowing
where you land next or if you will
awaken in paradise or remain slumbering
whether sleep or a void, if we can truly leave
and have nothing of ourselves remain
but ash and debris
it seems impossible that you were once
jumping onto the table and making me laugh
with your antics
only to be nowhere and gone eternal
I may not possess sufficient faith
to build castles in the sky but
your energy stays like stillness in
this empty house and from the corner of my eye
I still see your shadow slink just as
my grandmother’s voice is pitch perfect in my head
is that imagination or wishful?
Or do ghosts haunt us willing supplicants?
A bouquet of delusion to soothe our empty
will you live forever within me? And when I take
my turn at the Ferris wheel
our nothingness will reside near one another
I like the idea, all I have loved will
mingle as returned starlight in the ether
and touch one another with reminder
for being alone or worm food is
a cold dinner companion I wish not
to believe in
even if God turns his head from me and always has
for his man-made lack of female
and my rib is long and sticks into my gut
reminding me I am ever every man’s equal
and will never lay down to those dull prescriptions
of what constitutes truth from a man’s tongue.
Your fur was thicker than all the cats here
who grew up hot and listless on porches
you came with me in a pink plastic box
obscene in its garishness we laughed
putting it through customs
the harried lady at flight desk remarked
well there he goes as you were taken
hand delivered, to the pit of the plane
and I worried because I wanted you to be
on my knee but no madam, I’m afraid for long haul
he has to ride in cargo and don’t worry
few of them get upset, as if she were crouched among you knowing this
this seemed false as so many things do
when big decisions linger like absent friends
at the periphery of moments
too quick, too big, for staying still
briefly I wondered; Should I really be moving?
to this strange country I do not yet know and
burning this bridge indefinitely
it felt as wrong as right ever was and I stood
in the airport watching the thin man take you
behind a curtain and then as you were on your way
so was I.
You see …
I took my cue from you
and of the two of us when we landed
I think you looked less bedraggled
whilst I fought with immigration because one of my papers
was not ‘just so’ and they called and fussed because
immigrants are not very welcome in any country
and annoy those whose jobs it is to ensure
and when we reunited
on different soil with the sound of cicadas or crickets
I was not sure in those days
you were hot against my grandmothers blanket
and had peed because they don’t let animals
out to the bathroom at 30,000 feet
which was exactly how I felt, hot and wet and stinking
at the same time, in this odd place where
people were outgoing and spurned shyness or other
attributes we both possessed
following our dreams or maybe just mine
as your dreams were about mice or pigeons and later
lizards and snakes
as you learned the ways of the desert
and perhaps the tenor of your meow changed
to reflect the inflection of your adopted country.
It may seem easier but it is not easy for any of us
who come by boat, plane or smuggle, to
lands not our own, we each bring with us
that belly full of ache
and you were always able to
soothe mine with your purr and ever
reminder of our start beneath colder skies and
smaller streets with littler houses and narrow
rooms where we knew our place and here
we could only speculate or clumsily test
our sea legs against
the strangeness of being
with mistake and estrangement
our sole friends quite a while.
Unable even to drive I walked you down the road
for your first vet check and people gaped
from their large cars at the floundering Europeans
walking where no-one walks and everyone uses
big trucks to go one mile and purchase a giant
sippy cup and some Ding Dongs, things with
names that sound fun and 40 additives
my kind of humor and banter lost against
surge of habit, the vet seemed surprised I
had carried you rather than driven and tut-tutted
at your lack of dental hygiene
but remarked how beautiful your thick fur was
and how cats in these parts tend to have
snake skin, we all laughed at that, even you
cast a fish eye his direction like you
possessed the real secrets.
I remember those exploits and driving to Canada on another
exodus when stateless we began again
another groove in our fitful recording
the deep snow and your paw prints leading
me nearer and further
like ice fish we swam in our odd circumstance
always together, staring out stranger windows like
spectators at our own fair ground
in cold you slept beside me and purred
in your sleep to the sound of icicles
warming and falling into snow the
sky a heavy weight holding its breath
eventually we returned to the place of infernal heat
and sizzling side walks where no one but us
and straggly weeds dared to step and the years wound like
lost yarn beneath our odd foray
until you were old and fragile
and I barely noticing because I did not want to
believe you could quit being the little cat
in the pink plastic box glad to see me at the
first airport in our new world.
It was naive or immature of me to forget
cats lives do not echo ours and mine seemed
suddenly far too long and yours bitterly short
a terrible echo of inequality I did not
have the strength to imagine losing you
when together we always were.
Even people who wrote said; ‘Dear Candy, Dear Halo’
as if they could see the join of your fur and my
burning skin against the other
I told myself I would be there when they
sent you to that place I could not follow
despite knowing in my mind the terrible pictures
would roam long and unbidden for many years
to look into your eyes and remind you how much you mean
to me and always how I will look for you
until we are reunited and then I expect
all this will be mere bad dreams and
again we can go forward, or side ways or
whatever direction the after world takes us
but please together, is all I want
for with you gone, I wait without watch
an absence greater than anguish
for you were my best friend in this lonely world
assuaging the hard edges and frayed corners
we came here together and still I am
more lost without you than when I arrived
for your bright eyes and happy tail
gave me courage Halo and ever shall I
look for you coming into the kitchen in
the morning with your half howl of greeting
starting my day and ending it with
putting you to your bed
never once thinking there could be a time
when you were not and I still went on.
Aristotle said it best; a relationship is
two bodies one soul
that is real love
and we are floundering when absent from one another
like the ice fish when it warms up
and water is all but gone.
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
Mental Health Awareness Week (this year the focus is body image)
14 YEAR OLD BOYS AREN’T THE GOSPEL
The year we held a Madonna competition I was flat chested
Boys said; Asprins on an ironing board
Girls said; You can’t dance with us
The exclusion felt … hot pink and slimy
I wore black elastic bands on my wrists to hide the snub
He said; Zoe is taller than you, you look quite SQUAT
He said; Zoe has tanned skin, why do you always BURN
He said; You give good head but it’s a shame you aren’t Zoe
I threw up in the bathroom to hide the shame
The year my best friend taught me how to binge and purge
She said; You’ll soon have a waist as small as mine
She said; When you feel sad put your fingers down your throat
She said; Skinny is the new superpower for girls
I quit dance class because I didn’t have the energy anymore
The year I tried to stop giving a shit
I said; Fuck it. I’m me. I can’t be anything else I WAS BORN THIS WAY
I said; I may never love myself enough but I’m damn well not going to destroy me
I said; Hate the image in the mirror, at least love the inside
I said; Someone will always want to put you down, don’t give them the power
The next year I still didn’t wear bathing suits, I still walked with my shoulders rounded
But I didn’t have raw knuckles and I didn’t survive on the opinion of 14 year old boys
A decade later at an art show we meet again, he’s going bald
He said; You look fantastic. I don’t remember why we broke up
He said; I always thought you were the hottest girl in school
He said; Want to fool around behind this Van Gough?
I quit listening and wished I’d learned not to at 14.
What you think is important then, usually is not.
Try to love who you are. Perfect is an illusion and 14 year old boys aren’t the gospel. We don’t all have to be Zoe.