The savage rent

don’t put up the tree this year

because in different directions

festivity trickles, a sloe-gin reminder

of loss

wintered in the dyed hair of visitors

who pinch our cheeks and proclaim

you are healed

when we know

such things rarely occur

the savage rent may

gloss over with skin

a scar as smooth as ice

can cut despite its fragility

they hand out mince pies

to carol singers who stamp

their booted feet in earnest

whilst we have no need of lights

winking and ushering

memories best left unwrapped

she has gone on with herself

a banchee howling her moon song

like a new chapter in an old book

the leather worn and much used

but still the characters implore

one more story grandma

and I am mending old clothes

to fit around my leaching soul

as ice turns back to water and

skies reveal

another season

another set of rituals

this time I will not

hang a wreath and pretend

to usher the year in with confidence

sometimes all we can do is

darn the holes in ourselves

tighter, less gaping

almost neatly

though anyone looking closely

would see how they

sung and stretched

the fabric of us

perished beneath

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Anywhere but this

How many times

Have I said

I’m tired

Close the chapter on me

Let me sleep

High up with mistletoe and squirrel moss

I sent away for a facsimile

Perhaps it will come already programmed

Take my place at the side of table

Mannikin hands jointed clicking clacking

Perhaps she’d love that mail order version

Better

Though love is no longer in our lexicon

The broken shoes of children

Destined to run barefooted

Toes stained with rhubarb juice

Tasting sour, tasting tart

Something bitter lingering among sweetness

For so long I waited

Watching

For you to turn at curve of road

And you did not (you did not, you did not, you did not)

The simmering lump in my candle throat

Never swallowed

When pain builds

First callused, then scars

Has anyone inquired what comes next?

I lost my voice

Then my sight

Then my hearing

It was terrifying

And it was peaceful

For I couldn’t hear them fall

Like tiger moths born in ice

Freeze with first breath, pirouette to ground

Nor see them rot and turn to wine

Nor speak of the pain

Through their juicy little mouths sewn quiet

I see now

Why people run

Why people turn to stone

But what if you can’t

And all you knew was love?

Then

What?

Sometimes I want to cut you into tiny pieces

But you’d still exist

Larger than life

In my filing cabinet of expectations

I was told once if you expect nothing

You can’t be disappointed

I found that so sad

Like eggs without salt

I wanted to taste it all

Be genuine, be real

But first the fur was rubbed off

Then the gentle felt

And finally my glass eyes

Scratched

Just like when you cry

The world was blurred

I couldn’t make out who it was

Who ached and who tore

Till I looked inside and saw it was me

Standing there in the sunlit road

Watching for traffic

And maybe your return

Or maybe a fast car

Whether it hits me

Or passes by

Maybe it stops

Maybe I get in and when asked

Reply

I’m going anywhere

Anywhere but this

Behind your eyes

DSJPQ56W0AEq2Dl.jpg largeWhen I stopped dancing full-time and entered delayed puberty

my breasts swelled like a lily in a pond

at first it was kinda cool getting attention from boys

then I hated how they jutted out and called ahead

like car headlights

slowly tracking, flashing, blinding

in those days of Flashdance and Fame

the three L’s; leggings, leg warmers, leotards

loving in the afternoon, running to studio

dancing with the smell of sex on my stomach

other girls ate salad and cardboard

threw up in the bathrooms

bound their breasts with cloth

I admired their long necks and sinewy thighs

the tightness of their waists and flat chests

my own puberty felt like something out of control

foreign and unwanted to me

I wanted the lean girl of childhood back

the one who climbed trees with one hand

hung upside down

eating apples

there was too much

attached to owning breasts and thighs

even his circle of me dimmed

looking at some of my friends

the ones with slimmer hips and shoulders

still in their girl-doll-bodies

I with my woman seeping out

became a thing of disgust, or so I thought

when I carried his child, my breasts grew even more

wetting the front of my nightshirt with wasteful milk

his eyes took in the sum of me and disgusted

he looked away

always preferring me hairless and skinny

like a girl not a woman

no make-up, wearing little thin things

someone he could control

so I had a sickness in myself

of warped images, desire and lost babies

starving myself beyond the pale

it wasn’t hard, I had little to lose

soon I ran for buses on the breath of feathers

circling my waist he’d say

you remind me of Audrey Hepburn

being tiny, I decided it had been a dream

no child, no loss, no lack of desire

he sexed me every night until sate

leaving bruises on my legs and arms like

vampire bites

but always turning his head away

like he was thinking of someone else

when he left me for that girl

who was dark-skinned and voluptuous and healthy

I realized being a little girl didn’t keep me safe at all

after that I never gave myself away

to people with eyes that looked straight through me

or hands that grabbed to own

a piece of me or what I possessed

though I had no idea what

that was

lying by myself in a small room

smoking hashish in the dark listening to

Tunnel of Love on repeat

I tried to turn my heart to glass

only my body wanted to be awoken from her slumber

a virginal boy, with no grace and long hair

filled my nights and my bed for a time

I taught him how

to roll the perfect joint

and study, where time ended and pleasure began

once he asked

why do you bind your breasts every morning?

they are beautiful

I turned from him

my skin burning with secrets

and did not ever reply

for who can disclose the litany of pain?

as it lies

like a sleeping child

behind your eyes?

The internal dream

Your soft hair

grace

beneath the moon

I imagine us

light limbed

piano hearted

slipping from key to key

hands on my face

tracing soft accompaniment

I lead you onto oak floor

dancing beneath wax

and French 75 on your breath

moving to a hum

the internal dream

your arms curled around my waist

close your eyes

see ancestors walk

silver hammered

your mouth crushing mine

the oval and the heart

echoing across sound

no barrier

the unraveling trip of clothes

pressing against skin

somewhere ivory music slows

candles burn out

we can smell in the dark

hear the sound

of our mutual breath

as you gather me

as I lean and become

desired

Those sounds made in silence

In the flat hand of glass

Reflects an outside world

Cold Winter sun calls through curtains

patient window pane lover

trees lose last of their leaves

surrendering to unclothed nakedness with the bravery of a wedding night

disiduous remain full, evoking woody balsam and night spore

surviving knife’s turn in weather

holding heat and color in humbled defeat of season

much like humanity

some can bearly stand the ravage

others seem to make a game of it

sustaining themselves on pride of survivorship

not long ago

I was a tree who lost her green

standing frail and nude

cold uneven feet on linoleum

my insides dissected by machines and tubes

the absurdity of being in pain and still

apologising to the technician

for my exposure, those things I had not adequately prepared

for who shaves their legs to ride in an ambulance?

or waxes bikini line in preparation for colonoscopy?

more men in my cavities than my entire sex life

humor in the macabre on the edge of the world

as all is falling around, the condemned laugh

I think of people fucking in hospitals and

it strikes me as the sanest response

take a stranger’s hand, strike your name on the dance card

feel the strong beat of their heart even as

their valium eyes tell you other stories

we escaped just, but we escaped

touch me where I was piecemeal

finger my edges with your need to validate

desire swells when we don’t die of our maladies

to feel once more, the warm assurance of another

weighing us back to earth

80 pounds, 90, 100, we climb through mist

to gain entrance

I sat in the coffee tinged dayroom

the same sun, the same season, a year ago

what a difference a year makes

then I was as light weight as a dry leaf

last fat pealing off me like a hot coat

nurses, seeing my bones, were mothering to me

they did not know how much that meant

because I have honed the art

of never showing my true feelings

I could be smiling as I wept inside

and you would only remark, how bright your eyes

illuminate the darkness, my love, my love, my love

which is why I need to dance

it is the only time, I am myself

aside when sexing the cherry and that I cannot speak of

for I hardly recall, what it feels like to be held

only the sheer joy of remembering touch

a hand reaching through blizzard

the nurse brought me breakfast

sat me in the iron wrought chair

in a soft voice asked me to try to eat

her caring eyes were my feast

it had been so long since anyone saw me

crumbling beneath my layers, sickness

devouring will

the illness brought me out of my exile

heart thundering

where you had placed your sharp arrows

all of you, who used me for target practice

did you think I hadn’t noticed?

I’ve been your punching bag longer than memory

it’s hard not to fight back, but I stand alone either course taken

so I packed my bags and sailed away

just to stop hurting, the ribbons of life lines

each year grief-stricken like those fish you got

in Christmas crackers, good Jews we weren’t

that curled on your outstretched palm

one direction meant fickle love, the other,

who knew? I was always left-handed

wherever you go, there you are

still injured, the pain lingering like unrepentant stain

a dying man sat down, began telling me his life

he said I was beautiful, did I want a date?

both of us in our backless gowns, how absurd

parody of finer times, when you took me in your arms

spun me around, bit my neck, caressing the

pulse

soon enough, early snow fell, sun still shone

I told myself you were waiting for me, when I got out

but you had lost your mind, many years ago

you didn’t mean any of it, those years didn’t exist

they were flakes of water turned to ice

deceptively beautiful

afterward, I drove over the speed limit, windows down

just to remind myself I was alive

but alive for what? To fall and empty myself in therapies chair

to have so much to say and nothing to share?

secrets in their eyes, glittering there

like drops of Winter, another year passing

how our roles change and still hurting

a nurse put her hand on my shoulder

don’t give up, she bent her lips to my cheek

kissed me like my mother did

once, when I was a good child

feeling in my belly, the sickness and defile

of many months lost and found

where are you now? In the woods?

as the sun sets and night falls

ushering creatures from their lairs

I walk beneath the moon and think

of how I am alone, wherever I am

giving up the part of my heart

who always hoped

I feel I have been awake a year

tossing and turning, reaching for

your touch like a thirsting pilgrim

lost in nightshade

you were never

there

only the moon and those sounds

made in silence

as we live and we age and soon

we return to earth

what we take with us

the memories of

wanting you like

flame burns wood

to create brightness

even as they both lived

one must consume other

in this mad

world

Want & Ritual

Helmut-SPREAD-6FI grew up fetishizing

the nubile antonyms of beauty

Helmut Newton’s exploitation

penis behind camera stroking

sloe-eyed girls with tired mouths

smoking yellow papered Gauloises

nipples grazing peach crinoline

men’s eyes like dry stones, seeking squeezing

I grew up thinking

contortion and bondage was

an art form not

excuse for masochism

as unsupervised child, I’d look through

graphic design manuals

that inexplicably had vulvas and

perky breasts

to illustrate Pantone

it was after all

the seventies

what did I know? Except

women on beaches without tops

giving me francs for not spilling their dirty martini’s

Mon sucre d’orge, sois gentil, va me chercher mes cigarettes

always gentleman watching

the rise and fall of female throats

nicotine mouths, stained vermillion

long tan legs swept beneath chiffon

men taking them to hotel rooms

children

smoking the leftovers whilst adults

fucked behind closed doors

wondering

when I grow up

how can I lie beneath

a girl whose sweat glistens

like marzipan

and if she should

sip on me I think I’d scream

all my silver bracelets falling off

like metal flowers on hotel carpet

after all

life is a film

where we tie ourselves up

with want and ritual

We Will Not Be Silenced – available now

The Anthology, We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay and Art is now available via Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Will-Not-Silenced-Experience-Harassment/dp/1732800006/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543429811&sr=8-1&keywords=we+will+not+be+silenced+the+lived+experience+of+sexual+harassment

PLEASE consider purchasing a copy or several as proceeds go toward sexual assault awareness, education and prevention and you will be actually making a difference with your purchase. We worked hard to get this project completed by the holidays so it would be timely given all that has happened this year.

All four editors of this Anthology met on WordPress and many of the contributors to this amazing publication write on WordPress and call it home. I really hope I can count on my WordPress friends and family to show some support of this much needed Anthology. ____________________________________________

We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art is the brainchild of Kindra M. Austin, Candice Louisa Daquin, Rachel Finch, and Christine E. Ray. The four indie writers and survivors felt compelled to do something after the strongly triggering Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings. Ultimately, they decided to advocate, educate, and resist through art.

They opened submissions for only two weeks to women and men around the world. The response from writers and artists was overwhelming: the final anthology includes 166 pieces of writing and art from 95 contributors around the globe.

The editors decided early on that this was a project of passion and compassion, not profit. 70% of the royalties raised above the publishing and promotion costs will be donated to organizations that provide services to sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors. The editors have prioritized making the book accessible to as many individuals and organizations that could benefit from it. The retail price is only a few dollars above the publishing cost to keep the 300-page plus Anthology as affordable as possible. They have also created a Wish List so that individuals and organizations such as rape crisis centers, gender studies departments, and public libraries who might not otherwise be able to afford copies might be able to receive one.

The truth matters, our stories matter, and you can help.

We Will Not Be Silenced is available in print and Kindle editions.

 

Special thanks from myself to WordPress’s own fantastic mind Merril D. Smith for her incredible foreword to this publication.

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