Flowers grown in dark

close up of red rose on black background
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For so long I learned how

to unlearn living

taking from myself the stuffing of hope

letting it sink into water

to become sea dragon.

For so long I learned how

to unravel my sense of self

until she splayed like un-knotted parts

lost to sense, blown away

by wind and rain.

It is hard for me you see,

to understand the codes others live by

grasp a secret language of self-worth

belief in the core, where others cultivate

confidence or ego in neat parcel.

I had instead, a drive-through approach

shake-n-bake

leave the oven open

for patients to escape the asylum.

I was born a weed

between dirty post-war concrete

little watered, little attended to

I grew and persevered alongside

dog piss and empty coke cans

my color brighter than the cultivated plants

in your garden for my contrast to

yellowed grass much bleached by

urine and exhaust.

But weeds and thin things of little substance

need more than a little luck

to grow up whole

at some point I stopped leaning toward the sun

chose moonlight as my mistress

where over the oval of my sadness

I mistrusted the rest of the world

for she seemed to me then, full of

unkindness and pinches from cruel people.

In safe-guarding ourselves so long

we can easily forget

the chime of purpose

the rain of love

we think we can subsist on existing alone

that’s what I did,

survived without living.

It was long ago now, but still it seems

only yesterday at times, I met you

with your bright electric eyes and your

shocking lack of restraint, how your

madness compelled you forward with

a lightning rod as your scepter

I felt your hand reach for me

and I was undone by the intensity

of us. A jewel within a cave

that for so long held no light.

When you stopped loving me,

it rained for forty days and stayed

dry at night, I walked empty roads with

bare feet and saw flowers like I had

once been, growing fitfully by the side of

street corners, not knowing yet, what they

reached for or whether fate

or courage, would give them

wings.

If you take someone broken who didn’t know

how to be whole and you give them

love, they will either break it accidentally

in their desperation and fear, or love will

consume them and leave them unable

to live without it.

I felt without you;

incomplete, erased, unwilling

to live on, there seemed no point

for I had not learned to love myself

and perhaps I never will,

it’s in my blood, my DNA to be

shockingly empty of self-worth

I exist without living and it has become

a nasty festering wound refusing

to scab over.

You went on with your life because

for you, living wasn’t dependent upon

anything but hope, you had enough of

that to last several people’s lifetimes

it was, I think, the bequeathing of your

sickness. A magician claiming to

turn things to gold, when all he

possessed was slight of hand.

I however, did not know

how to forge hope or find reason beyond

habit for waking each morning, every

day I did, the burn grew ever deeper, never

really resisting the urge to

consume me whole. I heard voices

they would sing lullabies of

jumping from tall buildings

as others would have dreams

of flying. Mine was bent toward

destruction, a solace in the imagining

of ending this charade.

Tarnished people with little reserves

are good bait for hungry souls

who feast on their need to be wanted

with the savagery of a nation.

Since you, I have lived with dying almost

every day, the punctuated purpose of more

than wiping the slate clean, devoid

of consciousness, tantalisingly distant

I am haunted

by memories of joy like a slow

sword delivering poison

too intense for most of the world

I remain alone in my grief

binding it to me like a silent

child.

You knew this when you met me, you let

the dogs of your heat devour what

little strength was left, for survival

isn’t easy when there’s no water in

the deepest well.

I blame myself of course, as all

good victims are taught,

occasionally I wish for anger

to cleanse the pain away

even if it left just charred parts

and blackened ruin, it might

be easier to bear than

regret and memories

as potent now as the very day

I let my defenses down and you

walked in, radiant and unafraid.

WE are shelters for the needy

but so often, the Narcissist chooses

the same abode and for those of us

who grew without succor, or enrichment

there is nothing easier than our undoing

at the hands of a cold heart.

If I had a daughter I would never

let her flourish trapped between concrete

I would watch her until she grew

strong and had within her, all it takes

to ward off those who seek only to

bleed and consume what is good

and untainted. Perhaps it is too late

or maybe one day, I will learn

a way to keep growing

not just existing, and it is possible

in time, the scars of you could be

replaced by someone else. If such a

person existed, I cannot fathom, for this

world is often frozen in its

eternal demand for the cruel and

the unkind to conquer

and dance on the

fallen necks of

flowers unable

to keep facing

toward sunlight.

Still.  We.  Exist.

Perhaps in time

we will do more

than simply survive.

Sentiment

two women kissingPause

take note

before wishing adieu

consider those rushing years

how they go

girls in wide skirts with brown elbows

flaring in pluming circles, colors of earth and sky

feet tripping over movement, making hexagons of their desire

look back … oh look back

those long years that lay like the junk drawer in your house

untouched by thought or query

ransack shelves you have long forgotten

a hair band from her, 2006 I think, the texture of caught wisps changed so much.

Every room carries the souls of every person who inhabited them

a ring made of silver paper, from the inside of a cigarette box as we sat

in a dark bar on the edge of town, knocking back whiskey and birch

playing footsie beneath sticky tables, with shoes off, bare toes searching

photos of people lost, people found, people who no longer exist lost in circles

the force of life remains inexplicable.

Times past, fast and hot like racing cars revving their engines as soon as dusk

settles like a woman’s gloves on the sorrowful face of the world

for years you rushed around, paying no heed to silent pieces of life you accumulated

halogen lamps stand like cupie dolls with radiant faces

stuffing them in boxes, tying with ribbons, preserving for what day?

There’s lavender from my grandmothers farm, her old best silver spoon, a dog

tag from my father’s first, the smell of grass and good doggie sweat still adheres

an old stone mill and my cousins would drink from tadpole ridden water

and I am the one who grew up to outlast, everyone.

All the people in this photo are gone, still they remain on unsettled periphery

what would they tell me? Get rid of her, she chokes you like

late wine that has corked, she takes and gives nothing back but ingratitude

it’s never enough, it will never be enough, you are not seeing clearly

and the memories of velvet as soft as snow haunt like miniature heart

attacks caught in disused webs.

in jars there are stars and in skies there are words, for everything existing here

is upside down

I write about you until my fingers bruise, I remember the little things

you long cast aside as of no use, like me, like us, like this, once and lost

your memory is a cruel sieve with no regard for history or effort

only the smelt of immediacy and present day full exposure

I have long been your past, just as we have

become junk in drawers, lost to further inspection

when words run dry and even letters stay unopened

your cough sweets, when you ran a high fever and I made soup

the times I took, the hours, the moments,

caught in nets in your mind, to be drowned even deeper

crabbing pots without capture, no dinner tonight you sustain

yourself on bitterness and temerity.

When i am gone, tied in forgetfulnesses bow, you will not recollect

the cards I hand made, how I stitched your favorite sweater

three times till the moths had their eventual dinner

when you were lonely, the words we spoke in the dark

those comforts that are lost in the past,  never to be unearthed

I built a life time and you forgot the shopping list

and driving into the sun, lost your desire for remembering.

Here in this place, I keep the momentos of lost walks

the day you whispered to me, I was the one, how we

climbed and fell together, like gradual waterfall

here is the photo of us laughing

here is a snapshot of us ending

still there are always rubber bands and pins at the bottom of a drawer

to snap and prick you back, to caring about something other than yourself

where we lay beneath cherry blossom, because you said you always wanted

to eat sandwiches and drink wine beneath Spring trees

my hair growing below my waist, the pizza they gave us

when one was not enough, drinking coffee on tindered street

wishing we could still smoke, being well behaved, havoc resting

the copper light of that room, how it smelt of patchouli and wine

even as we left.

I still fit into those days

they fit me like old clothes made new with sentiment’s stitch

climbing from the silence of today into

a divining bell and sinking beneath perpetual hurt

till music swells and covers my consciousness with

buttered fingers

they slip into me as you dove

deep and never released

your breath, my swimmer, my underwater love.

I still see you there

telling me to trust, when I am walking on our ash

here the trees are taller than those we grew to

know and there are no cactus or flowers of the desert

to go with that favorite tune.

I climb California hills with Barney and he hands me

a piece of advice,  a white flag

don’t look back, do what it takes

life is an arrow, cast it wide, cast it careful.

Pink is a damn sunrise slung over beautiful shoulders

running rest of the way home, past the old mental hospital

where secrets are wrapped in files never read, like mosquito nets in Alaska

I go back to my Canadian house and the closed feel of doors

watch snow fall and think of tattoos

over 30 and how time is like unconsciousness

you feel it in another part of you

searching for a way to unite the two.

Slow jazz playing on a malnutritioned needle

here the fair comes promptly in June

they all rush outdoors, so grateful for sun

I tell them, where I came from it never relented.

And I wonder, are you still there? Waiting for me

on the one day of rain? As we kissed goodbye

beneath lampposts, driving separately off, blind in downpour

each aware of time ticking further apart

long arms flung like an acrobat in green ocean

flips ever more easily, than we on land

shall inherit perhaps these fitful musings

of things left behind

unsaid

undone

withdrawn.

The fence between us

you hammered in

you uncoiled and made

tall and hard to

climb.

I cannot, you see

person holding black and green bird
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite

What if she’s me? The woman screaming without reprieve?

And what if she’s you? The body beneath the sheets lifted by strangers?

Every time the phone rings, I see in my minds eye, your prone form

fallen, or hurt, somehow

this fear I inhabit is years in coming

your fragility creeps up on us like a wettened shroud

once so strong, you’d take me in your bronze arms and

press me to you where the sound of your powerful

heart beat assured me nothing would erase or remove

your certainty

then the sick hiss and whisker of machines

a tube down your throat, a glazed look, no recognition

slack hand filled with needles, empty eyes void of life

I felt you moving away even as you stayed

gone and still there

a stranger in your face, your expressions glazed

even the taste of your lips changed

as if blistering over from sudden Winter storm.

As time ticks down, we look up

to salvation, prayer and hope when

maybe nobody listens

I stand over you as you sleep

your little bluebird chest rising in dream

I want to

climb on the bed and laugh as once we did

curling around each other in chased game

oh so much joy in one shared heart

when i was your girl and you were my

evening rose

now the dust has settled and we still

scattered pictures, cannot see clearly

all around are shadows and shorn warnings

easy to lose ourselves in fears glory

like gathering a bird who has fallen from glass

stunned and dying pressed in our hands

death on us now, like unsought reflection

glinting, glinting, glinting.

I miss you, the you I knew

better than I know myself

who would turn in her sleep and

touch me without waking

such was our eternal fuse

one into the other, no boundaries

and time is a fickle fellow

taking you and keeping you sickened

welded to pills and paper casts of closed theatres

we stand apart, at times nearly severed

I would sacrifice all to make you well

but i have given everything i know

it is clear we go in different directions

one is the end and you drift like

wind on frigid water

while i continue to swim upstream

i cannot, you see

let go

your bright feathers dull

and still i look up

when birds fly into glass

Gentle & low

Robert MapplethorpeTruth hinted at

there’s a ghost in the machine

that’s me

she’s climbing out of her past, survived the worst

they hold up mirrors and shout

let it out, let it out

the she who is me

spread eagle, violate

who will she need to please to be free?

I watch her as I would a

lover who coming close is further apart

the darkness of hurt

a chocolate center to emptiness

her breasts are hard and warm like

lost thoughts in my hair

we weave a strangeness over one another

her fingers inside me and then

words perfumed in the air

promises were said and broken

the bed lays untouched and I would wish I’d been

so lucky

bruises act like kisses and kisses are too deep

your tongue goads my sleep

when I said no you took and ate

your fill, then with moonlight cutting

curtains blind in silver

I see the outline of sin and pleasure

how pain is curled in little leisure

the first strike, sharp lines, leather belt

hands around my neck and down my throat

marks left on marks, growing roses in darkness

you make a hand print of the child lost

blood in water, sheets and cries

who will clean the absolution and who will

witness the last time?

I gave you what I could, it wasn’t

full it wasn’t even good

that was all there was

empty roads, night time rain, ebony on asphalt

lay me down on thorns

paint me a picture of torment

here’s my proffer, my scorn

for not being able to keep a secret

pluck a pin, suck it in, there it sprouts

savage love, ruins the innocent

pain comes in snatches like dreaming

you relish the way I collapse after you’ve taken

this last suspense, rinse out, leave her ready

for the next punch, a wound so loud

her breath has vocals

I’ve been gone a long time now

only the sound of the past plays

on repeat

gentle and low

as violence ebbs her sharp tongue

licking the wounded with happy sorrow

Growing up I didn’t have a SMITTEN

black lesbianGrowing 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.

Her own thirsty heart

photo of two women
Photo by Mahrael Boutros on Pexels.com

But I am divided. In a way that is hard to shape into words.

For women who love women are often the rarest night birds.

Theirs is a love that does not come easily and for this reason, it takes a great deal to stay

Sure and certain on the rainbow path.

Sometimes I understand my bisexual sisters, who having had their love affair with the curves and softness of a woman

Return to their husbands in droves or pick out that wedding dress and let the man

carry them over the threshold.

For a woman to be loved by a woman may feel natural but many times it is a struggle

we have no rule book, we may both want to have the other carry us or hold us when

fear besets

and men are so good at being heroes

and women are taught to be saved and rescued.

I understand then, the desire for a woman and the longing for less strife

where if you have children it is sometimes impossible to find a way to describe

why you leave daddy for a second mommy and how

fractures in emotions are not easily translated for young minds.

Had I children, who is to say I would have been brave enough? Equally it is part why

I never did.

My sacrifice came because I saw no other way

for it was never as it felt in the arms of someone of the same gender

and in that I am unusual and possibly 1 or 2 percent of the entire world

though it will seem more during Gay Pride and other events

where everyone holds a rainbow and joins in.

Only the days when we are not celebrating, we may be struggling

to fit in with even each other, strange as we may be, these women who

in various guise and costume

fall in love with other women.

I don’t get on well I admit, with those who believe the only true lesbian

is one who shaves her head and dons mens clothes.

It is not that I cannot see their point, or how many years before

it may have been the only choice

but I did not fight this hard to dress as a man and love a woman

who is also dressed as a man.

I would rather pick a full cheeked feminine boy with long hair

and pretend he had nothing between his legs than sell out my own idea

that love of a woman is as feminine as it gets

and we shall share each others’ dresses.

Our history has been unkind and as such, we do not trust very easily

if at all and when we do, we are liable to judge or leave out and exclude many of our tribe

just as women have done for millennia in their pursuit of men

hated other women for existing and challenging that thin mesh of safety.

It saddens me then, to be ostracized when I walk into a gay bar

and do not fit in, or feel judged by my sisters whom I want to

take into my arms and feel less lonely by.

This is but one aspect of the kalidoscope of being the L in the LGBTQ and

few of your G’s and B’s and T’s and Q’s will rush to your defense

we are co-opted in a group who really knows little of the other

for we are as disparate and different as it gets and often we walk

alone, despite our legal rights and our social acceptance (some of the time).

Alone because we cannot befriend a straight woman for she may

wonder if we would fall in love with her (and quite possibly might)

nor a gay woman for her girlfriend will begrudge us, nor a gay man

as they have often hated women and especially those who forsake

men, there is nothing in common there, and straight men will

try to tell us we just need a good f**king and we’ll soon change our

ways so who is left?  In the great wide world to be close to and share?

Those fears and our desires, the very stories of our lives

for whom 98 percent of the world cares not, they have their

1.5 children and ideas of normalcy and we don’t fit well enough.

Sometimes, how much I want to tell someone

of the love I have for a woman and the stillness of night

when we move together and how I catch my breath as

she turns like a thimble in my hands, silver against moonlight.

So quiet instead we are, often falling in love and unable

to share this or speak of it, for it is forbidden. No one will

listen, or be interested, they do not understand our strange ways.

Still in this day and this time we are shadows within

light and light within shadows picking our way through

mostly eaten strawberry fields, dreaming of a girl

who may like ourselves be wandering, looking for

a girl like herself who has only ever wanted to be

held tightly and hear the slow beat of a girls heart feel

the rise and fall of her soft breasts and know

she is where she belongs and needed every bit

as much as her own thirsty heart longs

in the early hours and late at night like the lonely

wolf who by himself will climb to highest point

in futile search of another’s call.

Turkish delight

alexander-yakovlev-dancers-everythingwithatwist-17I didn’t have time to un-knot my hair or brush it down

it used to hang to my thighs and I had to cut it

when the sickness came and I was green with bile

all those years I held my hair as my calling card

for I had nothing else

so when you see me this way you know

I’m not pretending anything anymore, this is me

this is the girl you once loved

I remember thinking I was old back then

what a laugh

and time is a cordial of horrors and trickery

what we need to know is, it’s all in the eye of the beholder

so if I feel tired and beat up now, remember, I tell myself

in ten years I will rue the day I forgot to dance

I dance now

bare footed with dirty soles

to the memories of

our liquid union

and planes do not fall out of the sky

the day is quiet

despite the tornado in my mind

I would let you in and not let you out

shut inside me like a favorite book

chapter marked by the sinew of my want

clasp you tightly with my muscular need to belong

within your kaleidoscope, a star in your universe

behind these accoutrements and forbids  I burn electric

you never get too old for longing

I want you to take me in your arms

crush me into sugared pieces

eat each one and never spit me out

I want to become you and stay

inside your candied warmth

where amber things are less real

set in time to wait out storm

but you care about them more

as part of your compass, to set your destination

I was born of your desire

I am now without wing

soon I will fade into pieces

and nobody will pick them up to eat