Below zero

Snow I have always

been thankful for your expunging

whiteout

how you take dirt

and suffocate it

beneath insistent layers

the wild and untame methods of your

settling, blown like befuddled

birds in all direction, swirling in

lost echo, falling eventually to

sugar-coat the dim world brighter

as pipes fail, their fragile egg shells

bloated with trapped water

a parallel I think

to our own shuttered lives

When I was a child I would

be told

do not go out in the snow for long

you will catch your death

and I hoped

very much

that were true

for to sleep

a red rose in bosom of white

I could fancy in my child’s mind

no greater perishment

though fancy and its

myriad ways of suggesting

death

grow less appealing

the older we get

Now I avoid slipping on ice

for fear of crushing my elbow into

shards like my father did

I see in the distance

my grandmother’s dog

he is trying to eat snow flakes

and puzzled when they melt

barks into whiskering storm

I think he speaks for us all

in this grand illusion

half wanting to be

taken off by encompassing whorls

carried to ice palace

where surely the meaning of

everything can be found

along with my mittens I lost

in tenth grade

stooping down to place

the cherry in

my snow robins

breast

Not a lot

Some of the forgotten towns

circling big cities, lone wolves

warming fur against bright lights

wear their bleakness like a flag

the emptied streets at night where

no merriment is found, kids have

climbed aboard their bikes and motored

through snow if necessary, to escape

into the cold clutches of wine and euro-pop.

The touring people who do not live in these towns

glamorize by proxy

their little steeples, the preserve of history

how charming graffiti looks in a foreign language

they do not see behind the doors

into a teen world of preparedness

all who will flee when time comes

somehow, make their empty pocketed way

to bigger cities, offering the solace of

24 hour misery

surely it beats

sleeping in your childhood cot

listening to your parents snore

inching closer to a local grave plot

they put their heads in bags of glue

just to feel like they are from somewhere else

finding it a marvelous irony

when their frigid mountain town is named

‘best hidden tourist spot’

by those who are also in their own ways

trying to escape

their stifled lot

The woman in the moon

and we said

try with all your might

to hold yourself up in this world

should you fall, do so quietly, lest

you disturb this delicate status-quo

do not be loud, do not make a fuss

these are things only rude people do

like those who talk on phones loudly

in confined spaces

penguins with plastic attached to their beaks

yak yak yak they go

but nobody seems to tell them to

shut it

and the propriety of life

misses a stitch

a heart beat

a compassionate rinse

through the annals of time

thinking of how we have always

stifled valuable voices

in favor of noise

putting up with the yak and not

the desperate drum beat of a woman

unraveling

she has spun her loom

throughout the city and its artifices

with alacrity and the sweat of female

labor, she has borne her children and

created a field of poppies, that threaten

to dazzle the very sun

she has grown her hair long and matted, until

it is thick enough to reach the moon

where she sits

howling

at the ravages of life

permitted at last

to possess

a voice

blue black hours

you exhaust me

with your perpetual need

you who is I, I who is me

this hungering for solace

rubbed like frankincense

on pulse points

used to be said, a woman’s evocation

was found in the thread of her blood

tasting her, found, a salt and an admonishment

for knowing mystery is not permitted

you exhaust me

with your perpetual need

you who is I, I who is me

attempting free fall, finding balance in

tender pretend, the chime and rounding of days

a music without orchestra, still she sings

heal me from the want

expunge that holy desire for more

give me a reflecting glass

that I might climb through

touch my limbs as they break into fire sticks

combusting in torrent, the woman, the girl

the crone

she sits with sun on her face

careless of time

she has put aside her duty

listening instead

to the song of a bird

whose feathers remind her

of blue black hours

Blooding

I made myself a promise I can’t keep

to stay steady, even in times of grief

not obey my gut and flee, bare-foot

into thick forest where birds

never rebuke

not to climb from shaking boat

wet wood and mold, scarred paint and

many gentle hands

cupping despair in her once tree lined womb

ever tempted to fling off effort

abandon the temple of people and their

admonishments

those truthful kindnesses flung back in reproach

by those who have no use of you

standing like husks by the road

waiting to snag your heart to shreds.

The woman across the road lifts her shirt

stuck slightly with glue from hospital monitors

a strange gel they affix electrodes to

when they’re getting ready to cut

she fills her chest with the congestion of the late hour

burning in filament

like fire birds finding song in dark

her dream is to be whole again

not lopsided, scarred in rivet and rent flesh

by hands that delved into her bones.

All my life I have observed

cruelty and condemnation in

its varied shadow forms

and marveled at how, little we pay attention to

the necessity and sincerity of kindness

instead we humiliate it

as if we were telling a child;

stop crying, stop being a blubber mouth, grow up

get some backbone, stand up for yourself, fight back!

Mistrusting those who stoop

to pick up your fallen groceries,

ask how you are, give what they can

though it be imperfect, irritating to

the red welt of anger surging in

collective consciousness, waiting to strike

who needs gaslighting? When we have

a veritable volcano, ready to turn

hearts into stone.

I knew a child once, who

fought well, she wore split lips like this seasons color

and her eyes saw in the dark

wishing to change the indifference she observed

when adults stepped on toys and did not

mend their breakage

that same child grew up into a flawed but kind adult

who wished many times

she wore a thicker armor

for the chill of strangers

has never borne fruit nor become easier,

as if you wore

sewn neatly to your chest

a scarlet letter

made of nothing more than

the dye of words

that look so very much

like blooding

(blood•ing (blud′ing), n. [Chiefly Brit.] British Terms (in fox hunting) an informal initiation ceremony in which the face of a novice is smeared with the blood of the first fox that person has seen killed).

Misleading light

You’re not leaving yet are you?

Girl with mango skin, every direction she turns

a kalidoscope of hopefulness in her smile

I notice how she wears her rings on her fingers like mine

that is because she is me

lost to time, a pull in a favorite knit top

the burgundy losing its focus as

it gathers holes

this is because she is me

bound to gravity and her weighty entreaty

toward inexorable end

a time away, yes, yes,

and nearer now than ever before

the steal of youth cloying on her dry hands

people slip her sweets and say: You are a doll

and she knows if she were a doll she’d be

able to affix the grimace all day and probably say

mama if you tipped her upside down

which is what she cannot say now

anymore than: I hurt, I cry, I feel

for she is passed that invisible line in the sand

where confession is pretty

she’s on the side of adulting

among the oaks and bulbs promising

fertility in Spring

but maybe they will be too tired

to show much of their lustrous potential

isn’t potential for under 25’s? She

read that somewhere in one of those

damaging women’s magazines before

they were transplanted to a screen

where weary eyed, prematurely hunched

poor postured youth eat their life’s golden ticket

like it is a salty snack at bedtime.

For sleep, for retreat, into the veiling woods

the silence unfolding like a veil, mist disgusing

her disappointment, even love doesn’t always

fill in where that ends, fickle in ways

you only learn when it’s exhausting

to find alternate routes, still she finds herself

thinking of the mango girl, the weight of the future

bowing her head like a shy dancer in the wings

of some hot lit theater

how then it was overwhelming in an entirely different way

the touch of a stranger, electricity firing her magic

quills into ether and those nights of no sleep

spent creating, describing, entire worlds

the future, a glittering prize, a lover, a friend

perhaps

perhaps

perhaps

it is time for her to leave

her skin shed in parts like impatient lizard of the desert

indigo handprints leading into arroyo

the scars of her like points of light

shining through

perpetual dark

as we mistake a falling star

when it is ignis fatuus

mere oxidation of phosphine

causing us to believe

remarkably and with some relief

in fairies again

THE KALI PROJECT is published!

CONGRATULATIONS THE WAIT IS OVER … The Kali Project is LIVE and print copies are for sale via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kali…/dp/1951724062/ref=sr_1_1…

For the first time ever we have also made the publication available via an Indian distributor Pothi, enabling our Indian readers to purchase copies locally:https://store.pothi.com/…/candice-louisa-daquin-editor…/

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Kali…/9781951724061…

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/…/the-kali…/1138632460…

A hard cover version and Kindle will be forthcoming. KALI will also be for sale in Book People & BookWagon and you can order The Kali Project via your independent bookstore (via The Ingram Group).

PLEASE consider purchasing a copy to support this worthy project AND upload any pre-press reviews you have written to help us succeed in getting this incredible book out there.

Contact Megha Sood or Candice Louisa with any questions. Thank you so much to everyone involved, especially Christine Elizabeth for her incredible formatting of The Kali Project.

The Kali Project is a nearly 600 page collection of some of the most famous Indian poets and writers and artists in the world, as well as acolytes, children, teens, and new writers, coming together to create a groundbreaking anthology of writing and art.

The purpose of The Kali Project was to highlight inequality in all forms, speaking to sexism, racism, caste-inequality, gender, income, education. The value of these potent poems and artworks will be immediately obvious and we really hope you will consider being part of The Kali movement by purchasing a copy and leaving a review.

Audio readings by the authors of The Kali Project, reading their work featured in the anthology:

Pale skinned mixed-race

What they see

when they do not see

anything but the cloth over bones

its hue and texture

I won’t be given a chance to illustrate

whether I possess the kinetic DNA within my manifestation

for it matters not

to anyone, you are holding within you

a rainbow, when the color you inhabit

through lottery and variance

dissuades them from believing

you are anything but

that plain, dreary composite of the conquer

able to get a seat at North-side restaurants

while others are told; sorry we’re taking bookings

for next week

in that experience there lies a divide

sometimes between siblings, one fair, one keening

toward onyx

while I observe the differentiation

like the whet of a sharp knife carving out marrow

I would ask

do not make the mistakes your subjugators revelled in

invite your sisters of a lighter hue

sometimes we sit here watching you

braid your hair and soak up the sun

wanting so much to be part of

what our DNA says we are

Two opposite ends of the same breakage

I a child

asked her, an adult

what does it take? To be merciful?

How much effort? Will it hurt much? Why

doesn’t the whole world

try?

And she, an adult

fiddling with her rings, two on each finger,

because she had run out of places

to exhibit her finery, her sophistication,

she, thought of where she would go

when she left our run-down, poky house

and did not return for supper

and what she would do

when she wasn’t weighed down

with runny nosed children and yellowed aprons.

She, who has the mind of three bright men

and a heart that did not really hold space

for people who could not spell, or those who were

slow, ones who did not impress, their light not bright

but stuck in amber, she said naught,

for she liked fine things

over much

and that did not include

wellington boots and children’s well played with toys

dragged through muddy pathway, leading to small houses

where there is life, oh laughing, gainful life, but raw with

the knuckles of everyday, up to their elbows in greese

and the machinations of surviving.

I, a child

asked her, an adult

what does it take? To be merciful?

watching the baby bird, turn to bone and feather

beneath the great conker tree, its crimson roots

like great yawns beneath moss, reaching through

heavy clouds with the hands of imploring worship

and life

so harsh and unwilling, to include ‘fairness’

would steal away humanities belief in kind deeds with its

brutal parsing

which is why , my grandmother, sitting on our stoop, paring apples,

with a sharp knife inherited from her father

told me once

(and she could never spell, for she left

school early to work in poorly paid factories

only once managing to get through

The Communist Manifesto).

Child, we must be good, we must be kind.

For nothing else knows how to be, they simply

act upon their instinct to survive. Like

the lambing season, when a new lamb is

born and the mother dies, we turn our eyes

heavenward but there is no tenderness, only

the brutal knot of nature, felling her herd

till balance is restored. Our human hearts

with our aching over suffering, fit poorly

with the callous hand of nature, she must

cull with her sythe irrespective of who deservse,

there is no mercy as we know it, in this

whittling of life. Only those who survive

and those who do not, dying in bleached

bones by the thoroughfare of our journey.

I thought then of you, with your

fine clothes and your well trained mind

and empty rooms filled with piano playing ghosts

how you were

much like the nature I saw around me

beautiful, wild, out for your own gain,

surviving at any cost

and I

the strange flux of humanity and terror

seeking to be merciful

among the debris of our eternal battle

with light and dark.

I knew then, why you despised me

why I loved you

it is like the fable of the scorpion and the frog

it is your nature

to sink deep into the foaming earth

showing only your glacial tip

as it is mine

to seek mercy, in unyielding hearts,

two opposite ends of the same breakage.

If we always run from being stung, in Summertime

sometimes we miss out on dawn

thus we must permit

the risk to gain, a possible reward

high in silvering trees

where the sleepy bears

hide their honey.

Thrive

For some

Can inhabit and thrive without the dark

I am not one

It is my wont to roam

Feel the tickling urge of excitement

Trained out of obedience, dark crystal inside maze

Blister unused tongue on your soft edges as we blaze

However old I grow, the longing unquenched, as linen will wrinkle in the instant of wearing

a woman holding herself in cupped hand as she turns in twilight

To brave the sultry lights, bangled, hennaed arms above my head

Sate the drums pounding in my chest, find trance in your musk

Lie in perfumed beds with long female limbs

Some would say it’s hedonism

Others simply wouldn’t understand

Why a 9/5 existence I cannot swallow whole

Surely there are prices to be paid

A reckoning when the time comes

I’ve seen it in all children of the night

When their fast urgency catches up with them

Such terrors I do more desire, than you

So harness me, make me obey your rule

For nothing I do stops the scald

Consumes my sanity and sets me running

Toward music and the gloom of the periphery

Where we who are cursed must sup, to sate longing

Our blood is not content with daily ritual

We live close to death, in the fury of passion

Short our lives be, they are magnificent

Relics of a time before without constraint

Wild and thirsting for motion we spun the world

Off its bloodied axis