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?

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Lingua

If you saw everything in retrospect

What language would you hear?

Climbing through cumulus clouds

The color of death valley

Sand strewn prayers

Over scraped knees and heavy cello bow

You slapped me backhanded

I watched myself

Fall like water

Wet against the sound

It excited you to see

Blood on my lips

The outline of violence

Lacing time and roses with secrets

You look out at a stark dull day

Feel glad you have the assurance of what stands rigid behind closed doors

We wear bright smiles at parties

The golden couple, they admire our rehearsal

Like pedigree animals who mask their bad nature

I’d bite your hand

And he’d fill your throat with glass

The lowered sun casting a haze over

Our magnification

Teaching darkness to obscure the simmering

Hand pinching my thighs open, striking

Quiet match of fire beneath

I hold onto your dismissal

Like butterflies

Slipping and fleeting

Driftwood

Skipped stones as smooth as

Your tongue in my mouth

What language do you speak?

As you lean in to remove all hope

And pinching between wet fingers

Extinguish light til only the circumference

Of stars

Lend their distant

Glow

Final chance to submit – “We Will Not Be Silenced” Anthology

Midnight, Monday 15th October is the deadline for submitting art/writing/poetry, this is an important, very timely project at a critical stage in history, your voices need to be heard! Previously published work you hold the copyright permissions on, are acceptable.

Please add your voice.

The story: Bruised But Not Broken, Whisper and the Roar, Indie Blu(e), and Blood Into Ink are joining forces to publish an anthology about the lived experience of sexual harassment and assault. We believe that it is more important than ever before that more voices speak out and reclaim their strength by owning their survival stories. All contributors, female and male, can submit up to three pieces of creative work- these can include; Poetry, Prose, Essay, Short Fiction, Prose, or original Artwork, but should be limited in length (under 1,000 words) considering that this is an anthology. You will be notified if your work is accepted. Please do not consider nonacceptance as any diminishment of your experience, but as with any publishing venture, we must try to fit the individual pieces together into a strong whole.

  • Submission of previously published pieces is acceptable if you still own the rights to your work.
  • Artwork can be submitted in black and white OR color but all artwork should be black and white compatible.
  • Using a pen name or publishing anonymously is acceptable.
  • All submissions should be sent to bloodintoink2017@gmail.com by midnight, Monday, October 15, 2018.

Writers and artists will retain the publishing rights to their individual submitted pieces. Indie Blu(e) will retain the rights to the collection We Will Not Be Silenced.

Pieces accepted for the Anthology may be used in whole or in part to promote the Anthology. All writers and artists will be appropriately credited in all promotional materials.

Should the royalties from sales of the Anthology exceed the costs of publishing and promoting the Collection, 70% of the royalties above these costs will be donated to organizations that support survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

 

Unmentionables

What can’t be said aloud

or even blown into an envelope

placed in a bottle and set to sea

or kept beneath your pillow in diary

those words and feelings without words cannot

find a place of expression

for a multitude of reasons or just one

you carry them around like a weight

dripping from your neck

sometimes in a weak moment

you feel yourself urging to spill

the bunting and string it high

confidences for everyone to see

what’s the worst that could happen?

and yet, you know, the worst

is bad enough to keep

you quiet

how many others, you wonder

carry their own list of unmentionables

and what would they be?

any in common or always unique?

if you let someone know

the sum of you

would they

grow bored?

become disgusted?

smile and say ‘i understand’

when they did not?

who can understand the deep of us?

where we dare not venture, let alone another

what permissions given and retracted

exist?

like the long necked lillies that spring

miraculously from dry texan ground

after it has rained and

the electric mist has caused wonder

to touch the barren

perhaps it is a sign when

you can talk of such things

late into the night

with a stranger you will never

meet again

or that you whisper to yourself

the varied outcomes of confession

strung on a tree, lighting dark road

no, sometimes it is best

we model our forefathers and mothers

who knew what to keep to themselves

for years they held them in jars

turning to the light once in a while

and when they died, sometimes you would find

one survived the cull

and everyone would hush and hold their breaths

in inky silence

not sure of how to respond

somehow a secret after you are gone

doesn’t hold the same concern

and maybe they were free of them

in that hour

when all who knew, discovered

they had not

known them at all

Beneath your coat

Losing your mind feels like

Slipping your chaffed hands into a pair of rubber gloves

Plunging them into hot washing up water

Hearing the chink of porcelain, knocking against glass

Impossibly fragile.

Soon the water grows murky

You cannot see, nor reach the bottom

From the top of your head to the ache in your feet

Standing wooden, bones imploring, knitted sweater itching corner of your cheek

Passion in contrast, hot freedom, dusty legs slightly parted, cold between

An urge as you stand beside the sink

To dive in

Silent impulse on a cold day to keep your hands deep

As long as the water stays hot

That feeling when most of you is dry and clothed, but part

Is submerged in warmth, feeling like fingers working their way up

Stockings, underwear, the electric wire beneath wool

Into the mirage of your longing to let go, absolve yourself of .. it all

If you could release, lie back in kneeding waves

You might let your weary cracked elbows

Then shoulders, sopping, sink beneath

Climbing into the sink, patent shoes slipping

Brassiere faded by multiple wear, a grey strap, a bulge of apricot breast

Hair loose and dripping, reflecting against dull tin

A buttoned up woman trying to gain admittance

All thoughts stewing in your head like vegetables boiled in water lose

Their flavor …

As politely you wash and rinse, checking against light for water spots

No one shall ever know, the devouring urge beneath your coat

Guilt


Guilt

Is a rare bird of shame

Its plumage

Breathtaking

For guilt

Captures the beholder, willing or not

Averting gaze from all else

Guilt will render paradise dowdy

Comparing freedom with the chains of its capture

Guilt is an old, fond bruise

Reminder of moments left torn to shreds

It will piece them carefully back

Twice as convincing, twice the weight

Strung round your neck like noose of sea pearls

Begging to be drowned

Guilt is a rose bush with bleeding thorns

A shudder as you catch yourself thinking of

Those pursed secrets you’ll never disclose, even to yourself

Snapshots you expunge, that still, listlessly, rise from the depths

Never speak of it, even to the merry faced doctors 

Plunging their needles as far as they’ll go

Guilt

Makes you sick

Wan faced, old before your time 

Aloof in the varnished secret

Guilt

Steals your liberty 

But like a lie

Guilt is not vanquished, even by truth

There are things better never admitted

Keep them so deep inside you start believing the deception

Until

Like a wide eyed bride

Guilt takes your hand 

And plunges you back where you’ve been all along

There’s no solution to shame when it’s too late to undo

The poison that you drink, the person you’ve turned into

Guarding yourself like a wreck against sharp rocks

With less and less by the day to salvage

If you spoke it out loud

Surely the very sky would catch fire

How many of us must carry a spark?

Burning in our secret hearts?

And maybe this is why

You never know another person by what they share

Instead

It is the unsaid

Electric in the air

We recognize in others

The tarnish of shame

As clear as promises once given

Cannot be refunded

Lingua

Show your tongue to me

Let me tell you

How you are

Roll up and discover

The underside

Where panther unfurls

Too hot in the sun

We wear our outside smiles

With blisters hidden

Connected in swallow

Board a bus, get out

But the breath will know

Shallow 

Deep

An ease in this hope

There is clear air ahead

Just breathe

Away the false

What cannot be spoken aloud

A sore throat is never 

Just a sore throat