Anarchy

I am anarchy
in your pacifist bed
I am your guilt
your foolish fear
love
your unsated lust

I am your revolution
filthy riches
your poverty
a gratified
reassignment
your pain

I am your peace
and mayhem
your demands
and delicious
nightmares

a run on sentence
no punctuation

I am a noun
a pronoun
I am your id
your ego

I am you

 

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MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

Previvor

MARGARET

Within her green garden; an hedged veranda
filled with buckets of lilies, sweet herb pockets,
a sunburnt chandelier dimming in the breeze

Our garden with hydrangeas, and thistle vines,
and azaleas in phantom fuchsias; though
if only we could still sew posy wreaths

Rings around Margaret, May forgotten petals
to help settle her tummy. Glad, then
perhaps then she could water back her seeds.

Margaret sits in the mourning, and so I join her
birdwatching. I tend her soft plot’s dying greens
tending the nightshade she would madly weed

Days when it rains, we sip white jasmine tea, steep
it with cannabis oils, honies and Summer leaves.
Poperies, perhaps her secret dried poppies

Across our canopy, the sad salt wound of away,
Sea— Margaret and me, growing crooked under day,
Stirring love in urns under drapes of leaves

Margaret can’t feel winter in me and I think, she
quit watering what died. But with tides, she might

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Anarchy

If I Was Your Child    

Previvor

If I Was Your Child    

Would you cover me in a coat of armor
So my blood didn’t weep
If I was your child
Would you shield me from the dark
The boogeyman that wiggled my doorknob whilst I sleep
If I was your child would you smother me with sweet scented well-meaning
kisses
If I was your child would you teach me all the adventurous things I needed to be
Brave, bold, fierce, strong, fearless and kind
If I was your child would you grant me an open-hearted curiosity and gypsy spirit
If I was your child would you fill my belly when it gurgled and hiccupped from
hunger
Life’s pains
Everyday ups and downs

If I was your child would you discover the planet with me and all her beauty with
excitement
If I was your brave child that got broken with bruises
Would you patch up my busted knees and broken hearts
Would you shower me with love even when undeserving
Would you share your coat of kindness and mesmerizing colors
If I was your child, but not yours to hold onto
Not for too long, too tight or even a million kisses

If I was your child would you prepare me for the cold, greed filled world
where other children were not born into luck
Or love or grace or unselfishness
Born to endure beatings, assault and fear and hunger and pain
With no escape

If I was not your child, but someone else’s mistake would you even bother
to open your eyes and look up
Be braver than your peacock feathered rooted in pride shielding a blind eye
From the lost children forgotten by mother earth and father time
Unlucky, undesired, unwelcome
Powerless without cloak and dagger
Lost children born without a family tree rooted in structure
Where words like kindness, grace, beauty and bounty were spoken freely
If I was your child
Brave, bold and confident
Surviving and thriving free from lock and key responsibility
Smiling in prosperity
Would your heart be filled with pride and purpose
If I was not your child would you send some hope my way

Hope does not have to dwell inside your house exclusively
Hope should be shared and scattered like Hershey kisses
It must live in your heart and smile and willingness to cross the street
Born on the open roads and mountains and highways traveled making you wise
Opening your eyes to plight and diversity and pain

Because you too, were somebody’s child once
Who deserved to be sheltered and showered with meteor worthy hugs
If I was your child would you give me the moon and stars
Hell I’m only a child, I don’t know any different
I’d settle for the black hole we all live in, illuminated by cracks of sun
not asking too much, but perhaps one teeny tiny star to guide me
My own true north

 

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Anarchy

MARGARET

Previvor

GIRL-6

She finds her resolve upstairs, in a built-in cupboard in her bedroom, a cool black nook between eaves. She empties the house of herself, in a way – she can’t see anything, and in the wood, a sacredness and functionality must aid the process of unadulterated, unfleshed thought. Having strewn her uniform on her bedroom floor, she stands naked on purpose – in here, between her skin and an inside wall, is a place for judgment. Girl-6 hopes to perform it swiftly, ritualistically, leaving no room for self-sentiment – she does not intend to gratify herself when she imagines a freshly avowed nun in her chamber, just stripped of identity, vanity, and pride, about to commit that first brevity of nakedness between habit, and nightie.

What she knows: Girl-3 got her good this time – ‘had one over her,’ they’d say. Girl-6 can tell she’s been had, by this ungainly indignation she suffers, causing a loss of humor, and energy. Some girls can tell. Girls who study the rungs of the social ladder attune to other girls because you have to go to school with them and compete for status. There, at school, no matter the ferocity of your companions, you jointly create the status bond – the knowledge of a hierarchy that begins in silence, with an up and away look, towards a greater idea of yourself that seems to live just above the nose and, once there, to show indifference to the existence of others, except maybe ponies and a best friend who must understand that somewhere else in your international life, is an even closer friend who knows better secrets about you. From this point of the status bond, some chilling skirt-twirl freeze outs and lip-biting dislocation of personal articles – like a doll from your father, or an expensive retainer, involving the active concern of the entire upper school upturning the premises – will speed a lower former’s social flight to the highest rungs – oh ye adorable pet of top-form popular girls. Divorced parents are best; you have tricky holiday arrangements – double lives, double gifts, and the curse of a peppy stepparent bribing your favor with coolness. Pony collections work also – to fuss over their silk platinum tails is a pledge for rank – tangle-free tails equal supremacy and an orderly mind: you’re a girl who wipes her bottom til it burns. Is your stable regimented, under constant re-organization, or roaming freely about the room? These are desirable frivolities so long as you’re not sloppy about anything. Sloppiness is akin to being depressed.

The key to this status bond is in seeing its ladder in ascendance. Girl-6 is, without doubt, still at the bottom, but half-heartedly working up to being labeled ‘a bit of a snob with great hair.’ Snobbery’s an art; austerity rules over the niceties of existence. To climb the rungs, one must create from the bleak coils of her imagination, rungs lower than her – girls whom she must consider less than, and thus, assigned a place beneath her.

Rung-jumping is no easy task. Once, Girl-6 might have seen inside another girl’s mind. This girl’s school position implied invincibility; however, on parents and guardian’s day, under that girl’s porcelain-prefect’s mask, a vulnerable and practically motherless child swum too close to the surface and betrayed the girl everyone knew – just briefly. It was a spooky happening and disintegrated Girl-6’s upward drive – precisely, for jumping rungs. In the stew of uniforms flushed into that vale of learning, each passing face a pristine sponge for the heart’s adventure; this skill eludes her. More apt, the desire, that necessary cutthroat blood is, inside Girl-6, living dormant in a deep well of her whole ancestral being, as it must in every girl, this carnivorous, congealed pool of molten instinct curdling, screaming and shriveling as it waits for that bucket to come down, and get some. One girl descends for just a bit of this incredible blood, and comes up empty, thinking, is her bucket undeserving, incapable? She’ll go again, hardening her heart as she descends into the pitch, at length, to discover her well is barren. Water, let alone that blood, doesn’t exist to drown in, or even break her fall, should she be inclined to dive in.

In its place is a cold, dusty floor, until – oh look up, and down again – why, here’s the floor of a beautiful white palace – a kind of girl paradise where ladders and rungs have no credibility and should anyone remember their history, will feel inclined, no, ecstatic in figuratively fuelling campfires with its worth – where all girls are equal, and mass sleepovers typify the new order. Where boys don’t rate a visit to the commons for lemonade and sandwiches until graduation year, to general gasps of ‘at last’ enlivening a sense-edged enthusiasm, so the girls surveying those boys, can map out their lives, choose suitable mates to suppress the faults of the other, while enhancing the promising parts. This combined with a non-hysterical love of no less perfection than flight itself holds for mutual and all-encompassing prosperity. Until that day, a stream of good men, role models like her brother, will inspire feminine expectations. For her part, Girl-6 sees herself breeding ponies, doing good works, and writing books of her experiences as a great leveler.

Anyone showing potential will be welcomed on a daily basis. In conscience, they’ll stand apart; they’ll not pay taxes, because they’ll be on solar power, and true only to the realms of spiritual law. They’ll relearn ‘Beauty’ as the expression of inner achievement. They’ll have their own fashion sense. If any soul falls to crime or ill intent, it will be a shared injustice and judged as such. That will make a grim day, easily overridden by the days of joy, swim parties, and productivity. As the inventor of such a paradise, she accepts some respect due her, but the new school won’t serve status bonds, only fairness, and joint aspiration.

Status – going against the ethics of the white palace, Girl-3 has that. At first, Girl-6 could appreciate Girl-3’s independence from the confines of suburban virtues, her apparent ability to exist without vanity or, what Girl-6 terms, ‘radiant procession’ – that is a way of tackling the future with less than what birth has endowed you, and being fortified by this condition, like an amputee, or an orphan. This Girl-3 with unknown aspirations embodies something between hunter and hunted – she is hunger, and coveting. Girls in the upper form mundanely call her poorly socialized, but their hearts pound for what’s unsaid, what words would devalue, what strikes their eyes with electricity normally reserved for sexual wonder. Thus slipshod minds made slackened rungs, allotting Girl-3 in, and up, without regard for her young schoolmate’s place or hard-won privacy.

Everyone at school has a creative projects drawer. Girl-6 got rummaged and someone’s tasteless curiosity still physically turns Girl-6 hot suppressing her indignity, instead of airing it, so she is at length disturbed. Bad enough to be visually poked and prodded, to have every move you make, every backpack protrusion, viewed on a microscopic level; every action singular, discombobulated, and judged as such and out loud – and it’s so unfair because day girls are, for practical reasons, like manic relief forms of themselves. Seeing it through the boarders’ eyes, all the to-and-fro of Girl-6 unto them, renders her as sport, a landing pad for diversion, a cool pool to swim in, towel off, refresh, until mass hot symptoms excite them again.

Her interesting parts stay home. Girl-3’s make front page.

Things she brings from home outside of necessities, usually carry quite eloquent back-stories, and her practices, serious intentions – both are just disengaged and discarded by Girl-3. Because Girl-6 occasionally, seemingly, reads minds, she’s been seeing herself through Girl-3’s eyes, as if for the first time. Under cold examination, Girl-6 probably falls flat: stern is the facade of her solemnity, petty are her annoyances, calculating is her just and ritualistic style. However, Girl-6, emphatically, isn’t stern, petty, or calculating. Lest she calls herself above-board, she feels practically alien just thinking about herself.

What she won’t do: deny Girl-3’s bravery as an isolated, yet celebrated foe of sorority, an alter conscience, and absolutely when everyone rubs the stars from their eyes, a thief. No one objects to her peculiar tastes in food, clothes, and etiquette; all this should be seen to be natural and endearing, given that Girl-3 is unnatural, coming via front page from a suspected blonde desert cult. It’s this idea of her as something to celebrate that unnerves Girl-6 and makes her revise the status bond ladder – the idea that nature created an apparently loveable girl out of none of the accepted methods. To be free of society for your entire youth, for some reason, makes you pure and innocent; your deeds, however vile, a display like a learning deficit, or something lost in translation, because they must not matter. Society beyond ‘tween sorority’ then, as a mass brain, must see itself to be sordid and beyond saving. If so, why has no one, acting for the whole of society, done anything about it? They allow Girl-3 everything. Her murky history must not matter, except to thwart the saccharine, and plastic, of perfection, and veil her in victim hues, because they must persist in loving her. Despite everything that’s certainly bad about Girl-3, they have made her perfect. They insist upon it. They-must-persist-loving-Girl-3-not-6.

And then, Girl-6 began to love her too. Despite the faults, Girl-3, who menstruates and paints with her tampons – really has neat skills of her own – appears to secretly want to copy her, a day girl, and she’s done so, by way of appropriation, while Girl-6 was home. Girl-3 couldn’t know that Nerelee exists because Girl-6 buried her six months ago, behind the creative projects drawer so purposely chaotic inside is a formless spikey mesh. Nevertheless, seven days after the new girl’s arrival, Nerelee of the Wattles disappears.

‘None wud blink if ya never’n hid her but ya did, an’ she is burnt,’ said Girl-3.

‘That’s a confession, then?’

‘Na.’

‘Then I must have blinked and missed it.’ Girls 1 to 5 got her looking, swearing ‘she’s so close you can smell her – check the eaves, and the cellars…’

She never told them that she hadn’t smelled for months. In fairness, Girl-6 must appreciate herself as an interesting subject, and not just for not smelling. Just being herself, going about her ways, she has earned fascination, from perhaps the most fascinating girl of all. And were it not for Nerelee’s value as evidence against herself, she’d forgive the not-so-cute Girl-3 everything that she, as an accidental figurehead, as a whirling catalyst, has caused to illuminate.

In those months before Girl-3’s arrival, school and home tremored expectantly, with the to-and-fro of it all, with the tremendousness that Girl-6 was experiencing her finale in a gentile term of life. At home, playtime became an investment. She grew ever more observant, even mercenary in seizing moments that tomorrow, she might view as ‘indulgent.’ To take afternoon naps between booyongs, press flat chest to earth and beat her heart against eons and sniff, listen, and interpret so hard because she might not again – made sense. A term whose death was knowledge by way of falling; falling as an intangible succumbing; a succumbing so charismatic and alluring as naught but the ghost called her future formed on loose probabilities; that one day she too, after a term of exam hysteria, would age and marry. There’d be separations, choices, and sacrifices involving men and the independent feminine goal and online bills to pay.

Nonetheless, that afternoon that had secured her brother home, and her father from work and into his dreams, felt thick with safe prospect, and peripheral thinking, a warm cup of freedom. Coming out the back door into tracks through banana trees carrying her covered basket, both she and Nerelee smelling of guava sunscreen, Girl-6 foretold no volatility in the body of this party: in the basket; fairy-cakes, her doll-size sudden beauty set, and child-size tea set; in her uniform pocket, a forgotten felt pen. A threshold lurked, but because it was her first, her instincts were innocent to foreboding. Yes, some guilt, ignoring Mum shouting, ‘where be my green sandals?’ Mum had missed her arrival from school, and she didn’t shout hey, but Girl-6 felt already swept away, and singular in her intention. When she spied her father and brother at the picnic table exchanging wry glances, cotton-wool sensations encased her. Her father already wore his yay the weekend paisley robe and his starriest eyes because her brother had incited debate. Men discussing matters deemed beyond her concern, her comprehension, her responsibility – it swaddled her good. That any moment she could run back, invade their manly knot, for a cuddle, or duty to frill their afternoon – bring biscuits, take a memo, pour frothing beers…

Girl-6 passed unnoticed; passing the ficus hedge, crossing lawn behind the house, dodging shadow prospects of snakes until she reached full coverage through the dip in the landscape of beyond. Here thick cloud compacted her world. Rising heat dissolved her nervy sense of mission, and she felt rather light-headed as her joints moved as if coerced by surprise, and her body fell into pathways, and her mind rolled musically along. She considered her style of walking, which opened her to this deeper, richer atmosphere that said I’m exclusively yours before evening’s birdsong ran amuck before one breath of humanity should spook it away. Everything appeared at her touch, steamy and miraculous, including the interlude amongst the miracle that was herself in this rare spontaneous action, herself in great single strides. Every arrival point embraced her; every layer peeled away to reveal the next until her full stop came, at the booyong grove. At its sun-baked edge, pitched high above the river, was a grassy hideout, arid, but misty so vested with drama – she imagined a futurist might choose such a site for a clubhouse. So here she put down the basket, laid a striped blanket and did her best to flatten the long yellow grass bunching in baby hills underneath. Warmth released the blanket’s musty indoor smell as if retelling dream-filled hibernation, inspiring in her, fresh ideas of time’s ghostly substance. Once all elements fell into place, she asked Nerelee, ‘Care to join?’

Felt pen bled pink through her blue-checked pocket, likely since that morning’s art class – oh her school shoes! Incredibly, she hadn’t changed into something flouncy before starting out, but a lesser breed of fate directed this day.

She now thinks that a person, just before she changes greatly, discovers herself in her most basic, beloved identity – the last flight of self, already retreating into memory, the great hug before death. Enough time passed that the sun found a cloud pocket, beaming her its hot send-off hug from outer space. In its warmth, the pocket stain fed her ideas. Soon, Nerelee was admiring her speckled complexion in the mirror of the sudden beauty set. Now they were twins. More bunches on the blanket needed smoothing. The sun’s position in that ferocious blue patch indicated it was time for afternoon tea.

She took from the basket teacups, leaf-patterned saucers and the container that she opened just enough to dispatch fairy-cakes to saucers, and shut. She then blew off the ants, one by one, that already, psychically marched onto the blanket. So she missed the rift of smoke rise off the grass behind her and has since reassembled that into its crazed cobra form. When the flame bit she exclaimed, then understood her serpent as a springling of smoke. Whose tongue was blue. Whose fangs hooked her at the waist. Who breathed a hole in the blanket under the mirror that curled away and lit the dry grass underneath.

She stomped out the flame. The blanket kept melting. It formed a delta that relit the grass into hands blazing fingers, and she retreated in a half-backward run, on an animal path zigzagging down to the river. In mud ankle-deep, she threw off her uniform and dunked it. School shoes slurping and gurgling, she ran the soaked dress back towards the dreadful. Branches and vines anchored her scramble up the last bank shooting embers, and over, to her cobra multiplied into six crackling serpents engulfing her picnic. Dress flopping, she pounced, and they devoured the hair in her nostrils. Thwack went the dress at every side, and within, immersing her with the spew of their foul blue table, their spines wrapping her skin as she corralled and whipped until they collapsed into each other, and fizzled to a stewing, breathy silence.

Cloud regrouped, thick and pocketless, shrouding Girl-6 in her deed – panting, hugging herself with incredibleness, with triumph. Still, something burned, but this was the acrid and waxy smelt of synthetics. She looked down because she knew her shoes, though sodden and sooty, remained intact, and she was conscious of a tremendous nudity that her shoes made explicit. The smell was an evil beckoning ‘locate me, so here, so central,’ but she stayed on her black shoes. The evil pleaded. As if to steady herself for its corruption, her eyes shifted from shoes to picnic scene and carried out a ground report.

Only thing you cannot burn is what’s already burnt to hell!

The fallout was a fantastical science lesson, a moral riddle about personal power and hellfire – perversely, the essence of a potential hit song, and in quiet times, she’s reminisced on that brief creative elation. All that survived of her uniform was a blue-checked moon-shape, its edge a scorched corona. A flatworm was her pink pen. The basket, black. The tea set and beauty set made a waxy jam with charred mirror. After looking everywhere, here, right here, was Nerelee at last, in Girl-6’s arms. However, Nerelee was wrong, incomplete, yet endless. Following her sweet limbs, Girl-6 arrived at her new panties, dangling off her stomach. Their elastic edging had crusted and shaved a place in her skin. Nerelee’s foot had melted and attached to Girl-6’s stomach, and Girl-6’s stomach was curling around and over the foot.

When the pain struck, as if it had waited for this carousel awesomeness, she ripped the doll out, but she couldn’t save the foot from her stomach, or herself from the foot. She ran everything against the rush of mountain air. Has anyone run so fast? Looking back, she must have known instinctively, the necessity of living outside of time so heat and gore didn’t catch up, though they lived, and desired her intimacy. Pain knew as she knew mid-run, becomes a choice: you leave it behind for as long and as fast as you run. What happens is a real kind of time-travel – and in the same vein, speed turns your locality beyond logic. Possibly, theoretically – Girl-6 barely believes her own experience. With little but the blur of trees to contain her bodily sense, she grew aware of where she wasn’t, where she must be missed. White noise accompanied an image of her brother, her father, the picnic table: so vivid, she knew she’d viewed it from above, and so high did she fly, her body, progressing, transferring, glowing like a gladiator, was in her control. Into house, dashing body, climbing upstairs, into bed, falling, under an animal duvet, safe, away from ‘here-now-ness.’

Girl-6’s dominion over pain was fleeting, her time theory stood. Pain caught up, their relationship consummated under the ghost gums behind the house. She’d only stopped to gulp, and instantly felt dragged out from her magic duvet, and on the ground grasping her midsection; here she learned of pain’s taste, its hunger, ability, battlefields, births, the thousands of years of souls who knew it too. Nothing would ever know her so well. It was all so unfair. Girl-6 moaned for herself part of the time, for the lost ideal of play, for wasted fairy cakes, and for the feminine whispers of sisterhood snatched by six Girl-6-made cobras.

Thus returned to the now-of-here, she ran again, this time back down to the river and in. Underwater, she permitted a cry to satiate pain. It rippled a rogue tide along the banks and probably out to sea.

Comprehension was a violent, ecstatic pinnacle. In the hours that followed, the water’s blood warmth extended her physical sense of herself; the dread of irreparability kept her alert; a riverbed body mask sapped her of smoke, her youthful perception swung naturally, gladly, to buoyancy, through a rare brand of romance that attended her wilt. It had to. Loss, she saw, doesn’t cave on itself, doesn’t govern the negative territories, rather, it’s an invasion of new sense after the last has consumed itself; this had mass, and volume, like a flood, like absorption. Loss in a raw body becomes something grand, intriguing, consuming, and, having consumed all other territories, must become pleasurable at last. Great sufferers fill history – the greatest sorrow, the loneliest grief… She swam in her grief. Drowned in her sorrows – any poetic longevity in Happiness hardly compares.

Girl-6 owned that her suffering offset her guilt over potential mass-destruction – she couldn’t mollycoddle this romance, however… Foretelling family horror, this romance advised her to bury today. So, Girl-6 accepted that secret suffering gains virtue, and specialness; that individual ails little in comparison to her so-called caretakers, whose guilt might plummet them into helpless, self-absorbed sentiments – and in accepting all this, she afflicted herself with enough guilt for, what was inherently, a gain.

Then romance wanted her name for this episode. ‘Thank you – Vanity.’ She took comfort. No backstory need adhere to New Girl-6, going forth, quietly inhabiting home and school, exciting no suspicion in her will to amend and remorse properly. Vanity. Nature deemed hers overfull.

Nature, I have no belly button.

The dreaded train of self-sympathy, secretiveness, more self-pity – some injured girls turn their eyes into saucers and get bandages and pens from Nurse in Sickbay. Often, she’d peer in as the migraine, and aching tummy types lay under actual hospice blankets, basking in the awesomeness of feminine consolation. How she’ll miss her stomach horrifying them all!

While in the river, she’d ignored her father, a bat swooping the banks shrieking, his frenzied robe flapping. Mum was probably soft-sobbing. This made Girl-6 watchful for the suddenness of her stealth. In their calls was birth itself, clanging in her chest and crunching her ribs as she made fools of its makers. Her name as a flying muscle, blind and deceived. Her brother’s cries practically scalped her, but couldn’t beat the lone licking of wounds in the river. Shadows stretched treading arms, swishing and brushing, overpainting what she’d ruined underneath. Birds quit for the multi-tone overland hum. Clouds, increasingly black, were reachable, as a starless night fell and she welcomed its obscuring sweep.

‘Dear God let me disappear. Please! Let them think I’m dead so they’ll forget the bushfire that nearly erased a mountain face. Oh please…

It took a sense of ‘overt specialness,’ Girl-6 supposes, to drag her from the river. Those shoes slopped along, caked mud like chains, as she climbed the track. Through banana trees up to the house, darkness and nudity tempered her progress – a darting spirit, reforming her life step-by-step, grasping an open window, melancholic for placement again. The haze of usualness as she crept was a body of times past. Her bedroom light was on, so she crawled through, her feet humming a feral tune as she crept below windows, noble in her slowness of motion. She wrapped a towel around her waist, squeezed her hair with another, and from her closet pulled the hem of her frilliest, flowy-est dress until it fell on her, and she wriggled herself in. From the shoes, she removed the feet, wiped them, crawled through the hall, and jumped the back window.

In a dell in the ficus hedge, she beheld her family: at the picnic table, her brother, soaked; muddy father in the robe he’d chuck for ‘negative recollections,’ fossicking ancient chambers of his mind, pleading for grounding within metaphysical answers. Mum, suit, and flip-flops. By the plank table, they swiveled directions with their bodies. A police car, two officers, notepad, and pen. On the table, her father’s cup that he kept picking up, sipping, finding empty, putting down. Cloud cover, lush. Girl-6’s sigh nearly exposed her. Who witnesses emotion like this? Only while lying on your deathbed, or announcing your terminal illness. Even with a lost limb, people get ‘sporting’, and rally around you. She was inside her parent’s heads with her mortality – maimed, kidnapped, a runaway… hold me!

Instead, she huddled overwhelmed in dearness for the past and her people. Dear Mum, click-clacking the officers’ pen. Brother, for whom most calamities are bearable, most worth a fiver over the results, swore he saw her, giving ‘m’oath’ to ground, mid-distance, to the beast in his brain. Mum slaying neighbors with finger-filled words: ‘do-gooder, potty, suspicious, never-there-open-to-squatters.’ Father, the hysteric: ‘a responsible girl. Not a wanderer. Bloody no: never. Never chats to strangers, avoids them.’ All wrong but she loved him for his faith.

Faith. The hedge inspired grotesque ideas. Sap-tacky leaves spoilt her dress. Pain; racing lion, sitting croc, soaring bird, was skin rerouting around Nerelee’s foot. She could feed pain her brother’s pills, and herself, some sleep. To build nerve never needed, now sought, she force-whispered the word, grizzle, and foretold her scar’s form – in one incarnation, a giant horse eating a donkey and spewing it out. Each year she and scar would grow. Go clothes shopping alone. Swim in full bathers. Go to sleepovers when everyone runs about naked for fun. No one could know, so Girl-6 would grow sly. What normal man would want her for a wife? Men being somewhat conceited, he’d have to carry a scar worse than hers. He’d want himself ten times the sorrier before he’d concede to loving her.

As she painted her male atrocity in her mind, she untacked the leaves from the flounce and pasted them to her head. She’d come from behind. ‘Mum! I guess I fell asleep, in there.

The officers, wired for the scent of offense, tried to breach her film of slumber. Girl-6, dazed in the unfurrowing relief, squeezed into herself like a kitten. A performance governed by the resourceful romance, it shifted the scent and extinguished doubt. Mum dropped down, picked leaves off her damp head, and with her hug, unconsciously molded Girl-6’s skirt around her small hips and legs affirming her most thorough female safety. ‘I am alright,’ Girl-6 whispered, lifting Mum’s head from the towel wrapping beneath.

‘Hair’s damp,’ she murmured. ‘Swimming, eh?’ Mmm.

Relief oh drooling puppy set free. Still be the sacred delight in a girl riding the cusp of her feminine spurt, just woken from her midsummer’s dream, insensible of worldly calamities. Her father howled without tears because ‘tears are flowing full stops,’ he explained, and he was ‘still locked in the maze of horror. Come on, come on!’ he scolded himself. The policewoman said over him, ‘Suspect any burning on the mountain today – no one else smell it?’ ‘No,’ said the puppy to its leash.

Girl-6 woke to her clubhouse shimmering, the perilous genii seeking ground. While dumping earth and wheeling her barrow up from the river, she found Nerelee face up under wattles. Shoes Black Janet and Smokin’ Jane would hide their sooty smirks under lush polish, their warp under thick looping laces.

All Sunday, Mum pursued that uniform, finally calling foul for imagining there was ever a spare. Girl-6 got a new one, the sports-set too – the latest, boasting invisible stitching and a skirt with flappy pleats that you need to hold down in strong winds. Her sport-set has what she’d call, esprit; all the girls are getting it now and turning their old ones into bandana tops that squash new breasts together to coerce a cleavage.

Yes, to thrills. Life, she suspects, applauds empathy, towards others, towards self. If the white palace deplores inhumanity, it must tolerate status bonds. Girl-3 and Girl-6 must co-exist; as numbers advance the army, so to its sleeper soldiers. Still, Girl-6’s joy over the pleated sports skirt somewhat wanes in Nerelee’s absence and choice, to paraphrase her father, is ‘a bit of a buggar’ both ways: she must somehow befriend Girl-3 to an overpowering degree, or, burn down the school.

Overall, she’s angry with herself, for storing Nerelee at school, not here, at home, upstairs in her black nook, where it seems, at least to Girl-6, that adulthood’s distinguishing factor, beyond height, mortgages, and the absoluteness of decisions, is a unique solemnity owing to regrets, and consequentially, an unworthiness to express utter and unadulterated joy going forth. So adulthood, at its pinnacle, is courageous sadness.

Those who lack the courage need help. Here’s why nuns have nunneries; why this naked Girl-6 will have her white palace. Here’s why she won’t burn every rung of the status bond down with the school and the evidence somewhere, somewhere, inside.

Girl-6 won’t rise: ‘My body is an allegory. I am the emblem.’

Photo Credit: Paula Satijn Flickr via Compfight cc

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True Murders

The Open Window

Sweet Nothings of a Foreign Exchange

Previvor

Where do these women go when they die, these
Women who are like me
like how I used to be before
I became rooted in stinkless rock?

“Previvor” is for the catch of an early dusk
before it settles, or
the trespass of the moon before dark

A champion equals a survivor in the pressing
Previvor foxes it first

unless

the thing is rape

you smell on me an anger appropriate, yet
My words touch you chaffingly, they
aren’t real:
inappropriate for think, hear or feel

because

the word is rape

I could not have been a previvor of violence
because the dread blossom grew
not in me but in
you

Photo Credit: alubavin Flickr via Compfight cc

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

Shulie

When I tell you that she is a fireball,
I mean to say
that she fears not the
charring of cultural silks and rods,
burning up oxidized visions
until her words are carbon-sealed
upon the perennial page,
her feminine veil
forged in smoke.

When I tell you that she is a firebrand,
I mean to say
that flames know how to dance,
performing heated contortions
of fist and wit
singeing holes through
sepia newspapers and Freudian slips,
hungrily lapping up anachronisms
like old kindling.

When I tell you that she is aflame,
I mean to say
that her light comes with a price,
ample mind ablaze
with neurotic shadows
blooming, ball-and-chained
to the heels of her incandescence,
the fire that commanded oceans
snuffed out by airless spaces.

Photo Credit: Thad Zajdowicz Flickr via Compfight cc

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

WAR

I can’t keep
Them straight in my head anymore-
The shootings.
The victims.
The gunmen.
The guns used.
Vegas.
The hotel. The windows of the hotel.
From the window of the hotel.
The concert.
The nightclub.
They were dancing.
They were young.
They were shot. Hiding in the bathroom.
At the school. In the classroom.
In Florida.
In Virginia?
In New York.
At Church.
They were old.
They had survived tragedies.
Only to be shot-
In school
While dancing
At church
While praying
During College Night
In Thousand Oaks
Doing yoga
They were
Women
They were men
They were just kids
They got shot
Hiding in the bathroom
On Lockdown
In Starbucks
At the concert
While they weren’t looking
While he reloaded
And they were trying to get out
Trying to escape
They got shot
With an assault rifle
A war weapon
Something about “multiple magazines”
They died
At school
In kindergarten
They were 6.

They were in High School
They had just transferred
He was about to retire
She wasn’t going to go that night-
He’d just moved there-
They were all shot
And they didn’t die right away.
Because they released cell phone footage of the massacre on YOUTUBE-
And my kids saw it-
And we all
Died
Inside.

Because
It’s
Happening every day…
To every body…
All of the time…

Am I going to get shot?
At church?
In the movie theater?
While I’m dancing?
I’m young…

With a war weapon
While I’m not looking
Or will I get a call?
That it’s my child-
Laying lifeless in
A bar with all the lights on now.

Would she have been trying to escape?
With her friends-
On lockdown- in
The Starbucks bathroom

Were they all scared
Was God there-
Did they have a chance to pray-
In the church
On the dance floor
At school
In the movie theater…

Will they get shot when they are old and I am gone
And they survived this lifetime of tragedies?

I can’t keep them straight in my head anymore.
The shootings.
The victims.

It’s everywhere.
It’s everyone.
It’s me.
It’s you.
It’s WAR.

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

We DID Overcome

It started with a sea of “Pink Pussy Hats” in cities across the United States.

There were nonbelievers. Unsustainable, the right opined. Some even laughed and said none of the marches would ever make a difference on election day.

But the anger and frustration of women appalled at the Trump presidency sent hundreds of moms, teachers, CEOs, activists, and more of all races and creeds to join together in grass-roots efforts to learn how to run for, and win, political offices.

These former protesters turned their activism and anger into action and created boot camps to storm Congress in a big blue tsunami.

Becoming a force to be reckoned, these women went beyond the traditional Roe v. Wade and education issues. Their platform included immigration, the environment—andgun violence.

Gun violence moved to front and center of the platform when on Valentine’s Day, 2018, a lone shooter killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Now famous student activists kicked off a national voter registration drive and enlisted a new generation of voters to send anti-NRA candidates, many of them women, to DC.

The army gained momentum. Women’s rights became human rights.

“A woman’s place is in the House…and the Senate.” —Kristin Hannah, author

And on November 6, 2018, history was made.

  • Americans elected more than 100 women to the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in history—turning the house into a Democratic majority—essentially turning Trump into a lame duck president for his last two years.
  • Two Muslim women will serve in Congress for the first time.
  • Historically, two female Native American women were elected to Congress.
  • New York’s 14th District will have two youngest woman ever elected to Congress representing them.
  • Nine states now have women governors.

It is mind-boggling to think of the path women carved out of the women’s marches just two short years ago since President Trump’s inauguration. Wait until 2020.

“They marched, they ran, and on Election Day, they won.”—The New York Times

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Shulie

True Murders

Jenny Hates Me

Proxy

Handpicked handmaiden, raven hair, a charm
collected, jaunt in country air. Conveyed
to castle, swift, by dainty, dirty arm,
for sister, gift; he makes her mirror maid.

A countess cloistered, brother bold, a lust
rebuffed for years maturates manifold.
No hunger for another face, she must
be kismet: this twin to take her place.

Bow shape of lips, gestures, by rote — behaves, becomes the thing he wants the most.
A sibling studied fingertips to throat,
around the castle, doppelgänger ghost.

A proxy polished, childhood promise chased,
embraced: to never love another face.

Photo Credit: alextroshenkov Flickr via Compfight cc

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Why Did He Stop?

Home

Claudia

True Murders

When Lin had imagined a murderer’s mistress, she had pictured leopard print and spandex, glittering baubles and high heels. She would never have pictured Eliza Hanson as she was now: kitted out in a soft pink cardigan, a puffy matching headband holding back her sleek, graying bob, serving drinks with almost hostess-y air.

She was leagues and away different from the woman who had graced the front of the local newspaper fifteen years ago, when her lover, Bill, was arrested for the murder of his wife, grade school teacher Mrs. Rachel Halsey.

Lin wondered if perhaps Eliza Hanson had toned down the big hair and flair because she felt guilty. Because she had been the cause, at least indirectly, of Mrs. Halsey’s death. Or perhaps she had just grown up. Either way, Lin put her glass down on the bar and jotted these details down in her Moleskine, trying not to draw too much attention to herself — which was actually pretty easy to do considering there was a football game on the flat screen behind the bar, and all the broken-down, end-of-the-weekend working men were busy watching the carnage unfold as they drained their tall cans.

She checked her phone to see if Lou had texted any updates about their daughter, Rose. That evening, after dinner with her parents, he had insisted that she “go and meet your childhood gal pal!” — that she leave the tender bundle of screams at home with him and her folks. She tried not to let her relief show as she slipped on a black dress from high school that clung awkwardly to her post-pregnancy curves — all the clothes she had packed were covered in spit-up. She also refrained from telling him that she was not, in fact, meeting anyone at O’Dooley’s. Lou didn’t know about her new hobby — if you could call investigating the 15-year-old unsolved murder of her third-grade teacher a hobby.

He didn’t know that after he and Rose drifted to sleep, she set up her laptop in the exercise room he had gifted her in order to “get back to normal” after giving birth. That she whiled away the hours until 3 a.m. obsessively discussing the case with the shut-ins on the True Murders message board. The prevailing theory — the one Lin herself prescribed to — was that Mr. Halsey had done it: pushed his wife down the stairs so that he could be with his mistress, otherwise known as the woman currently staring at Lin.

“Do you need another drink, honey?” Eliza asked, moving closer to the bar and Lin. Her gaze was unnerving, strangely familiar.

Lin blinked — feeling as if someone on the television screen had spoken to her —then shook her head and looked down at her phone to avoid the woman’s soft green eyes. Otherwise, the hate might leak through. The utter and complete contempt. She knew that she might feel this way when she decided to come by the bar where Eliza worked, to look the mistress of a murderer in the eyes. It was essential to her research, she had rationalized. The others on the board were clamoring to know what made Eliza Hanson tick. They were just objective observers, though — murder fangirls and boys. Lin had never been particularly into true crime and all that, this wasn’t sort of dalliance for her — this, this was personal.

Mrs. Halsey had been Lin’s favorite teacher; she remembered how the woman had stayed after school every day to help her with long division when she was failing math. How she still knew Lin’s name when they ran into each other at the library or grocery store when she was a gawky, awkward teen. How she had heard about Mrs. Halsey’s death: the day after her junior prom, at which she had pity danced with a special needs boy. Her teacher had been found at the bottom of the stairs, her neck broken.

Halsey’s death had plagued Lin throughout her early adulthood. She didn’t date until she was in her early twenties and didn’t sleep with a man until she was 25; why would you invite someone to be that close to you? Close enough to blot out your life while you’re dreaming in bed, or pausing at the top of the stairs, lost in thought. Only by the grace of therapy — and SSRIs — was she married today.

Lin drained her drink and tried to focus on her phone again as Eliza swept into view, placing a foamy beer in front of a man who bloodshot eyes. It struck her again how incongruous the woman looked in a place like this, with her pleated pants and sensible white sneakers.

Her phone chirped, and she looked down to find the expected message from Lou. She smiled at first, taking in his greeting, “Hey sweets,” then, as her eyes skipped down the screen: “She’s gone for a bit if you want to call me. I miss you.” The syllables failed to make sense at first, in the way written words do in dreams. Then her brain raced through a series of explanations in a split second, but not of them cut it. Her heart thudded in her chest, and it felt, oddly, like it had stopped. Then the pain rushed in.

Lin didn’t even notice that she had dropped her drink at first. She just stared at the shards of glassware littering the bar in front of her, mixing with melting ice cubes. Her lap was soaking wet, and droplets of whiskey coated the cover of her Moleskine. Lou was cheating on her. He was cheating on her with some other woman he called “sweets” — and he was too dumb to text the right number. Her shoulders erupted with shakes and her eyes unfocused.

“Hon…” a hand came to rest lightly on Lin’s shoulder, and for an irrational second, she thought it was Lou, there to comfort her. She threw it off and pulled her shoulders protectively toward her ears.

“Hey there…” Eliza Hanson said, showing off her light pink manicure as she gestured for Lin to calm down. “Easy. Everything’s going to be OK.”

Lin just looked at her. At the ice and glass pooling on the bar. At the phone, now dim and newly cracked. Lou was always warning her that she was careless with electronics. He wouldn’t let her use the big iMac in his study unless he was there to supervise.

Eliza laughed. “Well, I don’t know if it’ll be OK, but that’s what my daddy always said to me when I was upset, and it worked wonders when I was a kid.” She swept all the glass and ice into a bucket and poured Lin another drink. “Maker’s, right? Here, on the house.”

Lin took the glass and gulped at it, the whiskey making her cough. When she opened her eyes, Eliza was still standing there, watching her like she had before, like she knew her. She put her elbows on the bar and leaned toward Lin. “Do you want to talk about it? Whatever it was…?” She glanced pointedly at the phone.

Lin flashed to the dossier she had on her laptop (Lou’s castoff) titled: Eliza Hanson. Eliza was 45 years old and had worked at O’Dooley’s bar since she could legally do so. She was what Lou would call “low rent”: high school drop-out, single mother, tried to work at a nail salon somewhere in the middle of her life-long stint as a bartender only to get fired for stealing customers’ wedding rings.

As the other folks on True Murders always said, she was the prototypical vindictive mistress from central casting. If she had been a character on a TV show, Lin thought, critics would probably complain that she was way too one-dimensional, too much of a villain. Consequently, she was blamed more harshly for Mrs. Halsey’s death than her alleged lover, especially after Bill Halsey died last year. And that was only after he was declared “not guilty” by a court of law. It was hard to see any of that villain in the woman in front of her, though. This woman seemed almost… soft, kind.

“Why do they do it?” The words burst from Lin’s lips wreathed in a mist of whiskey before she could truly process whom she was asking. “Cheat? It’s just something I cannot fathom,” she spat.

Lin’s first boyfriend had cheated on her, in college — with a buck-toothed freshman who thought he hung the moon. Her second bragged that she was the first woman he had been faithful to, which was somehow worse than the philandering college cad. Lou didn’t seem the type, she had thought — still, she wasn’t as surprised as she thought she would be. She had known early on that other people, men especially, were not to be trusted. That they would push you down the minute you were in the way. And, man, was she in the way now: 20 pounds overweight and always crying.

Lin snapped back to herself when the woman behind the bar reached out and placed a hand on her arm. “Honey, if I knew the answer to that old chestnut I’d be Oprah by now.” She filled Lin’s glass again, then cast her a sideways glance. “You’ll be in town for a while, right? Not running back to New York tonight or anything?”

Lin shook her head then put the glass down, slowly. “How did you know that I live in New York?

“Well, then… I have a story for you,” Eliza said, picking up Lin’s glass. The smell of roses and baby powder wafted as the other woman leaned forward. “I get off in an hour. Can you come with me to the library tonight — after midnight? You remember the library, of course. You used to be there all the time…”

Suddenly, Lin felt very sober. “How do you know all this?”

Eliza straightened and held up a finger to a man at the end of the bar who was waving down another beer. “In an hour. I will explain everything then.”

***

The first thing Lin noticed upon descending into the bowels of the library basement were the stacks and stacks of dismantled card catalogs — the wooden drawers forming a jagged barrier around the second thing she noticed: a group of hunched figures staring into a pool of candlelight.

“They put them down here when the computers came along,” Eliza said, gesturing toward the stacks. “Forgotten, outdated relics… Kind of a perfect setting for what we do down here if you think about it.”

Lin took in the cards and the women — who she could now make out as her eyes adjusted — clustered around a table laden with candles and books and bunches of herbs. “And just what do you do down here?”

Eliza shook her head, sending her greying hair flying. “Better sit down first.” She pulled out a chair, and Lin sat, breathing in the familiar smell of paper and must that the library had boasted since she was a kid. An errant memory fluttered into her mind: the reading challenge that the library had hosted every summer, run by Mrs. Halsey herself.

If you read a certain number of books per week, you got a gift certificate for a free personal pan pizza. Lin had gained 10 pounds the summer she turned 13, inhaling the free pies before dinner on her way to horseback riding lessons. She had slimmed down after that thanks to their town’s decrepit YMCA and Weight Watchers’ frozen macaroni — and elected not to take part in the reading challenge the following summer.

One of the women, a bottle blonde in yoga pants, poured Lin a shot of whiskey and settled back into her seat, smirking. The faces of the women swam out of the gloom: the blonde and her smug grin, a brunette with bags under her eyes and stains on her shirt (Lin recognized the glazed look — another new mother), three elderly women leaning against each other and cooing like the Fates and, of course, Eliza — eyes bright and locked on Lin.

“What is this?” Lin asked, putting the whiskey back on the table next to a bundle of sage. She had had far too much already, and she had a feeling she would need a clear head for whatever came next.

The women all looked at Eliza, waiting, as the bartender took Lin’s shot and downed it. She licked her lips, then faced Lin. “I knew you the minute you came into the bar. I remembered you.”

Lin clutched her elbows protectively over her chest. She had never met Eliza before — at least she didn’t think she had. The only way this woman would know her was via her research into Mrs. Halsey’s death, her posts on the message board opining that the mistress was just as guilty as the husband. And now she had her in the basement of a library, surrounded.

Eliza didn’t seem to notice Lin’s crossed arms, or just didn’t care. She continued: “I was so sad that you stopped doing the reading challenges. I had been so happy to see you at the library, leaving with those teetering piles of books. It made me proud to be a teacher. Why did you stop?”

Lin blinked the words not fully penetrating her semi-drunk mind. How did Eliza know about the reading challenge? She wrinkled her brow, not sure how to proceed, so she just said the first thing that came to mind: “All the pizza was making me fat.”

The women clucked and leaned forward in their seats, Eliza the closest. “Oh, that makes me sad. You were just a child. And a bright one at that. Oh, dear… that makes me sad…” Eliza whispered, and tears started running down her face. The women were all crying now, softly, their faces shining in the light from the candles, which Lin now saw were white tapers like the kind she used for holidays with the nice dishes.

“Can you please…? Can you please tell me what’s going on?” Lin asked, moving to the edge of her chair so that she could make her getaway more easily if need be. “I really do have to get back to my child soon… my husband.” All at once, her voice caught, and she was crying right along with the women, remembering the message on her phone.

“Well,” Eliza said, sniffing and pulling a tissue from her sleeve. Again, the move struck Lin as strange — something a much older woman would do. “This has to do with all that — your husband, your child. But before we go on, I want you to look into my eyes and tell me my name.”

“What?” Lin blinked again.

“Trust me. Just do as you’re told, and I’ll explain everything.” Eliza pulled her chair level with Lin’s and gazed into her eyes. The mistress’ were green, ringed with gold. Lin dimly remembered from her dossier that Eliza’s eyes were brown. She wondered if Eliza was wearing colored contacts, but she couldn’t see the telltale outline. Befuddled, she let her eyes unfocus and take in the other woman’s gaze fully until all she could see was green irises and that gold rim.

“Mrs. Halsey…” the words fell from her lips as if of their own accord, and she snapped back to the room. Back to the women and the candles and the dusty card catalogs. “Mrs. Halsey, is that you?”

Eliza’s face split into a grin, and a round of applause pattered from the other women like soft rain. “I always knew you were a clever one,” Eliza/Rachel said.

“But… how?” Lin asked. She felt like she had woken up from a vivid dream in the middle of the night, still half in and out of a peculiar phantasmagoria. “You… died.”

“Yes, I did.” The woman now known as Eliza Hanson nodded, solemnly. “Or, at least my body did. My soul is still here, inside this…” she sneered down at herself “…body. I tried to make myself at home, but one can only do so much,” she patted the headband, which did look similar to the kind Mrs. Halsey used to wear.

“But, how?” Lin gaped.

The other women leaned forward into the light and Rachel crossed her hands primly in her lap, as if she was about to give a lesson. “Our circle here… We have a certain kind of power. The ability to make things happen.”

“Like magic?” Lin asked, feeling more than a bit silly.

“Sure,” Rachel shrugged. “More like balance. We like to keep things fair. So, for example, if one of our husbands chooses to harm us because he’s decided to trade us in for a newer model…Well, then, we can trade up models as well.” Again, she gave her body a disdainful nod. “Not that I prefer this one all that much. I liked my own, of course, but I didn’t have much of an option there.”

Lin gazed around at the other women. “So you’ve all… traded up?”

The blonde in yoga pants nodded, as did the Fates. The woman with the bags under her eyes snorted. “Not yet. But I know he’s been boffing the babysitter like the cliché that he is, so it’s only a matter of time.”

“Shareen is our newest member,” Rachel said, putting a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Unless, of course, you decide to join our ranks.”

Lin felt all of the women looking at her then, and she folded her arms over her chest again. “Do you mean… do you think that my husband wants to…” she choked a little and then forced the words out, “kill me?”

Rachel reached out and took her hand. “I don’t know what he will do, but I do know that you’re hurting. That you’re hurting and he’s the one making you hurt.” Her hand tightened so that it was almost crushing Lin’s. “And I also know you do not have to let him.”

Lin took her hand out of Rachel’s grip and shook it, interlocking her fingers in her lap and remembering the shock of Lou’s text. And, before that, his waning interest in her post-pregnancy body. The gifted exercise room. The iMac that she was forbidden to touch as if she were a child and not a woman with a Master’s degree in design.

She always thought it natural to change with one’s spouse, but Lou hadn’t changed much since they said their vows in her parents’ lawn five years ago. She could almost hear the lecture that he would deliver when she came home with yet another cracked iPhone screen. He had worn her down over the years without raising a hand, she realized; he had conditioned her to flinch away from who he didn’t want her to be. And now… finally, it seemed, he was replacing her.

***

The circle of women sent her on her way with a white taper, a bundle of sage and a ripped page from an old book with words she was supposed to say over her husband tonight as he slept. She stowed the materials in her purse and elected to walk to her parents’ house, which was really not so far from the bar where she had started the evening.

The night air felt cool around her legs as they pumped up the hill to the colonial cottage, the tight black fabric of her high school dress sliding up her thighs. She remembered those days after school at the YMCA and the tasteless plastic cheese of the Weight Watcher meals. Lying awake hungry but staying that way as the pounds dropped off. Living in a body that never really felt finished — always in the process of becoming more, or, rather less. The slide of Lou’s hands on that body until the familiar curves melted and failed to guide him anymore.

As she slide the key from under the mat and opened the door to her parents’ house, Lin touched the taper in her purse and wondered what it would be like to leave it all behind, to exit this life into another, a conscious reincarnation. She padded through the house softly on bare feet, pausing outside the door to the guest room, outside where her husband and Rose slept. And she stood there until morning, lost in thought, trying to picture the woman she could become.

Photo Credit: Hugedé Loïc Flickr via Compfight cc

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GIRL-6

Shulie

We DID Overcome

Jenny Hates Me

Jenny is a YouTube celebrity with thousands of followers. She’s also my roommate and spends most of her days in a ratty bathrobe, reading blogs and watching Fox News. She’s legit the best roommate I’ve ever had. She’s quiet, keeps the bathroom clean and pays her bills. Renting to her was the best decision I’ve made since my pixie-cut.

But Jenny hates me.

She’s thin and symmetrical and when not in her robe, wears flirty skirts and high-heeled sandals. I am definitely not thin and have a closet full of androgynous clothes that I wear to the gay bars. I spend my days as a social worker, helping people navigate the community and get back on their feet. I attend rallies and watch CNN, donate to the ACLU and consider myself a feminist. Jenny thinks feminism is destroying modern relationships.

When I interviewed her about renting the room, I didn’t think to ask her political affiliation, and I just assumed she’d be open-minded because of her job. Jenny is an actress. When she first moved in, she was an actress of the adult kind and told me right off the bat she would be making porn in her bedroom. My biggest concern upon hearing that was hoards of sleazy, manscaped men would be hanging around the apartment. She insisted she only did solo shows and paid me first, last and security. I thought she might come to the clubs with me and listen to my work-problems. I was wrong. She wanted nothing to do with The Rainbow Room and thought my “lazy clients were working the system.”

As for the porn, we never talked about it. Well, there was one time she offered to give me a makeover so I could film my own videos for the BBW crowd. I turned her down, after asking, exactly how much I would make. It wasn’t enough.

She would’ve kept going with the nudie shows, but one of her elite-level subscribers offered her a better gig. There was no conversation about her new job; I found her dildo in the trash and then she asked if I had any left-over poster board. I suspected she wasn’t preparing for a protest march, which was later confirmed when I saw the poster with “Snowflakes are Stupid” talking points in the recycling bin.

Jenny became a YouTube vlogger, spewing political messages and working her fans up about the stupidity of left-wing views. I worried she might not be able to pay the rent, but she assured me her new position was lucrative and steady, and no, it wasn’t a Russian but an American guy, old and white, that paid her.

Even harder to believe then the weekly direct deposit was that she actually thought men were being treated unfairly and immigrants were out to destroy America. Pretty much everything I believed was disputed in all-caps (with smiley faces for emphasis!) on those recycled boards. I formed articulate responses that I thought for sure would convince her to get a real job, or at the very least go back to the sex toys, but then she came home with a pineapple pizza to share, and we spent the night watching The Bachelor while drinking a bottle of Chianti.

I never saw her “adult” videos, except when she filmed herself in the kitchen boiling a lobster wearing a latex dress (her, not the lobster). Apparently, they paid for that shit. But curiosity got the best of me with the poster boards. It wasn’t hard to find her YouTube channel given I knew all the keywords, even though she posted under “Felicia.”

In her videos she’s made up like a pornstar with bouncy hair, angry words spouting from her glossy-lipped mouth. I was fascinated with her articulation and energy, her animated arguments. And I was fascinated with the people, mostly men, leaving comments of support. Not one or two, but hundreds of comments!

Thank God for women like her. Hurray for Felicia — she gets it! Why couldn’t there be more women like Felicia?

“BECAUSE SHE’S NOT REAL! She used to masturbate for cash–” I want to type. But I don’t, because she’d know it was me and I don’t to end up with a roommate who blasts heavy metal at 3 am.

There’s also an Instagram, which is mostly photos from a gun-toting fashion shoot. When I asked her if she owned a gun, she calmed my fears and told me she had an LTC, but the pictures were from a shooting range and was I cyber-stalking her? While I struggled to respond, she told me it was cool and that she was glad I was watching the videos and she was happy to share her views. That’s not at all what’s happening — is what I should’ve said. But what came out was, “It was just one time.”

I continued to watch her channel, and when I finally got up the courage to confront her about the Terrorists Among Us, she simply said, “I disagree,” and then offered to make pancakes for dinner and hell yes, I wanted pancakes! She didn’t even criticize how many pancakes I ate, despite having recently made an anti-fat-acceptance video. I like to think it was because she knew better than to mess with me and my kickboxing skills (every morning, 6 am), but maybe the Fatties Need a Fat Tax video was just an act.

Not all the discussion below her videos was positive. She got her share of comments about being a dumb blonde, selling out, having mosquito bites on her chest. She might be right-wing, but she’s still a woman. The worst part is she can’t delete the comments, the old white guy does. Sometimes it takes him days.

Her videos are very persuasive. She’d make a great lawyer or politician, which I don’t tell her. The world doesn’t need another straight, white politician or rapist-defending lawyer. If she believes her worth lies in her attractiveness, is it my place to tell her differently? Fuck, I know. It is. But I’m not going to.

Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite. I may not tell her about my hopes and dreams, and she hasn’t met my parents, but we are sharing a life. My friends with unshaved legs and Pride shirts wouldn’t understand, so they haven’t met her. They wouldn’t get that she scrubs the shower and replaces light bulbs, that she observes my boundaries. Like the time she asked if she could borrow my Pussy Hat and I said no. She could’ve just taken it, and I never would’ve known. Instead, she asked where I bought it, went on Etsy to buy her own and made Ugly Women in Ugly Pink Hats. She respects me.

I’ve considered starting my own channel, not topless BBW, but videos reiterating Jenny’s talking points to lure the fans in. Then like an evil villain I’d subtly suggest misogyny is bad for the country or sneak in my liberal agenda and get them all mixed up, ha ha ha! The world might not be ready for me in a push-up bra, though. And I’d have to pluck my eyebrows and wear lipstick, so I probably won’t do that.

I’ve even thought about sabotaging her: disconnecting the Internet or photoshopping images of her at a women’s rally. But old white guy would just find another pretty girl, and I’d have to kick Jenny out, resulting in a roommate that eats my Alphabits and leaves crumbs on the counter. At least Jenny cleans up after herself.

So she hates me. And I kind of hate her. But she kicks ass at living room Karaoke and made a duplicate house key when I lost mine. I might ask her to go halfsies on a futon.

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Shulie

We DID Overcome

True Murders

Imagination

It was going to happen sooner or later. I couldn’t help it. I let myself imagine he was you.

His hand on my hand.

His lips on my forehead.

His lips on my lips.

I would believe that your arms are actually his and that they would wrap around me, protecting me from the darkness and your– his whispers would bring me back from the never-ending abyss.

I let myself imagine he was you, but you weren’t him.

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

Sunday and Vidalia Onions

Every Sunday, before she prayed,
My mother peeled three Vidalia onions
For dinner, chopping them into pretty
White teeth. I curled beneath her feet
At first, rubbing my small fingers over
Her beige legs, smooth as an onion.
Later, I sat Zen on a plastic chair, bare
Thighs sticky against pink petunias.

Layer by layer, she’d peel
Until the real onion emerged
Like a shiny full moon. June poured
Through gaping windows like God
Paws weaving gold in her hair. There,
Every Sunday we listened to Patsy Cline
Sing ‘Crazy’ from an old stereo. Mother’s
Fingers dancing and mincing in meter
Like a beautiful poem.

Funny how Sunday’s and onions became one,
How an onion made her reveal secrets causing
Her blood-red lips to tip in just the right way
As if offering a kiss. Insidious, the way brown
Eyes can water and laugh at the same time, the
Way an entire universe existed exclusively for
Her and me. The Velocity of moments strung
Together like pearls and prayers and white teeth.

And God streaming through open windows
Like a benediction. Halleluiah. Amen.

 

 
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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

MOOD

she fears
the dark
as it
consumes her
slowly
and then
all at once
trapping her
in its
never ending quest
to seize her mind
and bury her soul.

she’s trapped
inside
just a girl
lost in a
mood maelstrom
waiting
to capture back
her soul.

she knows
she understands
that the darkness
will only
depart
on its terms
not hers.

she clings
to normalcy
as she waits
and prays
that her mask
will soon come
unseated
releasing her
from this
darkness
called mood.

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

When We’re Dead

How long until I forget the sound of your voice-
the sunlight seeping in through your bedroom window,
you telling me you’d rather talk in the dark.
Escaping to your terrace
and taking pictures of the sunset,
talking with the flowers blooming in the spring.

Did you know I was watering our grave?

Will I forget our music,
the taste of permanence on our tongue
enveloping memories yet to be made.
When we sat together on my bed
our heads vicious, large, and beautiful
and our thoughts sufficed the movement of our lips.

Can my mind do our memories justice?

Will you forget the feel of my skin-
our hollows taking comfort in our spaces,
and the bouquet we bought is dying, is dead.
Your fingers on the edges of my hands;
a tide, always there, always persistent,
bodies running in on each other.

These gardens are futile without a rain.

How do I think of you as a past
when all my thoughts of you are in present
and the curing of these wounds-
so incomplete, still burdened.
I need another touch, tell me
do you do too?

Will we ever listen to our scars and smile?

Everything I’ve learned about being alive, about being conscious, about feeling, is that the fragility of everything we’ve had, all the souls we’ve touched; is so painful. It is sand, escaping through our open fists, and I find myself always wailing, and I am always waiting for the kind of permanence that will last forever but nothing ever does. And that is a hard thing to learn over and over and over again; until the fountains in my throat are dried up and I’ve accepted myself to be my only friend.
The beauty in it all is that sometimes even I don’t love myself.

Within the stale promise of a friendship
and two months of winter in our garden,
the quite bloom of a murky departure,
no passengers, no trails to walk by,
only your footsteps casting a reminiscent ache –
I will remember you in my poems.

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

Black Swan

I dance darkness
madness
insanity
and fright
devour calm
the still
the quiet
the nice

dread grins
stoned eyes
lake of lies
awake while asleep
aware
unaware
poetry bites

jolted tarred black
rocked
revived
fighting light
writing
dead dreams
into exquisite frights

I kiss
fresh fear
soft flesh
pornographic sights
swill panic
paint pills
swallow it right

birth
death
the beginning
end
purgatory
paradise
and start again

oh sweet
sweet seductive night

I dance you
forever
into my fading light

 

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

Conform

I’m talking but no one is listening.
Words pour out of my mouth
Real words, actual words, fully formed assertive words
But no one is listening.

They hear different words.
Different fully formed words
Words they like, words they agree with
Words that make their world a little easier and more comfortable.

But the words they hear are not my words.
These words constrict me
Crush my chest and pour dust down my throat
They squeeze me into a corner
They tie me down
They show me a tunnelled future and a grave stone that looks like all the others
A grave stone that says administrator.

There is a pane of glass between us
My breath thick and fast against it.
I talk and talk and talk until my lips turn blue and my heart gives out
But isn’t that that the point?
People only hear what they can cope with
They won’t hear what you’re saying if what you’re saying disrupts their pretend.

They want you to give up
They want you just like them
Because if you aren’t with them, you’re against them
And we can’t have differences
We can’t have uniqueness
We can’t have lone wolves
So get back behind that screen and keep your mouth closed and your heart quiet.

But I have never been one to do want I am told.
I don’t abide by stupid.
I don’t abide by being part of the club.
I abide by my gut, my heart and my mind
And they are all singing in harmony that I need to unclip my gag and scream no matter if no one listens.
Because if I don’t speak for myself
No one else is going to
Are they?

 

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MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

I Covered All The Mirrors

You describe the day as “beautiful”
While shielding your eyes
From the sun.
I can’t help but wonder
If all those times you called me
“beautiful”
You were closing your eyes.

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

On Anons

What is a man? —immortal thing blooming legs in his rood cutout wood,
her sweet cawtree limb combing the cool cucumber strands of breeze
hoping for a thing from her hair, her dirty Earthy hair
made for male crow, made for pecking in between
lines—
          Another one is coming!

A cross in feather form, wind floats tween hair in wind, serendipitous gift!
Brush for more crow. For a robin, a raven (scalping her
clippings) like hawks. Impale god!
cannoned civil rifles of throne, blood
ink stained landrapes

Masterhood basking upon her pickled branch —sawed caws her quiet beat
Gnawed estrange. Crafted from death. The mate pitching for keep,
for sake of him, she’s been pecked to death till no tress,
caw hope to gracefully undress, for her cherry heir
shelves—
               Another old Enlightenment!

Her girdle of bones in leaves, breezy sounds the dewy windchime sobs, trite!
Nest frills ribbon into wind; whipping wind. Sleep young
crow restless, handless in eve!
Breathe harvest, death. death. hallow veined
carbon bootprint pain.

To the next bird sifting for her breath of Earth,
Through the hair between feather,
To the following foul with his thieving and
screaming tumbleweed of grief—
             One hundred crows are not worth a single leaf.

 

 

On “On Anons” : A Feminist Poem About Canonized Masochism

Male writers have basked in the poetic spotlight from the start, with topics and metaphors referencing the feminine—metaphors for reproductive fruits; archaic words like beauteous, dainty, and sweet. Today the feminine has become more metaphoric, often conveyed in the form of nature. While there’s generally a balance between all within poetry, the fact that women have always been exploited for poetry, remains factual, reflecting the masochistic and hypocritical nature of the whole enlightened poetry concept.

Even though women were and have been published, it was often under the pen-name of a man or was submitted anonymously. During certain times and in certain places, women could be confined or even executed for reading and/or writing. “On Anons” was partially inspired by “The Dream of the Rood”. Centered on Christ, the poem compares Jesus to a wondered tree. Today, a “Rood” is defined as, “a crucifix, especially one positioned above the rood screen of a church or on a beam over the entrance to the chancel”.

A great majority of poetry focuses on mankind, or a man’s enlightenment (as the cannons reflect). Because of feminist debate/methodology, protest, and its combined sensationalism, there now exists resources (like VIDA) that force current publishers to print a variety of voices from women young and old. Also inspired by the contemporary Max Porter’s “Grief Is a Thing with Feathers”, “On Anons” attempts to dismantle this canonized ideology, concluding with a resorted line written by Confucius, “One hundred women are not worth a single testicle.” Diving deeper, a “leaf” can be a piece of paper.

 

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

Letters I Wrote to Muriel Rukeyser During My Title IX Investigation

Speak to me. / Take my hand. / What are you now? / I will tell you all. / I will conceal nothing.”

 

When I was three I broke my father’s nose

with a bat. He said he never had migraines

before that day, but now has them frequently.

I have them several times a month. I earned them

when I hit him square in the mouth. I know better

than to hit people, if not for the trouble,

then for the karma.

 

My crown must look, to everyone else,

like a white, glass bottle. Empty.

Someone is always aiming at my face

and trying to pry it off, to claim it

as their own. Sometimes their throws hit

right on the cheek, the lip. Everything splits.

bleeds. Looking at my broken face

is how I know, I have your eyebrows. They have to reconcile

their actions sometime.

Someone should say, whatever you summon

you sleep with too.

 

I believe that I am going deaf

in my left ear. This seems appropriate

for my twenty-third year, the hard earned year.

Some sounds are more audible than others. I hear movement

of water, some voices no longer carry. The trouble began

when so many others failed to hear.

What are you thinking? They have permission to ask

anything of me.

 

Do you remember my sister Anne? How she killed herself.

Carbon monoxide poisoning. I have her nose,

sometimes I wonder if I am not smelling

the scent of exhaustion. She says

the parts broken apart are actually whole.

It took a violent pulling apart

to understand the fragments are the whole.

 

I locked myself in the car on Thursday.

I prayed so hard that the lights went out. I left

the church and they think I have no religion.

I begin every prayer the same way, each night. God is the only

one who sees everything. Who believes.

prayer is the only intimate act I have left. Then

the neighbor’s dog barked & scratched at the door. There is nothing,

after all, that I know to be sacred. If I had been good

this would not have happened.

I believe in that.

 

I wanted you to stroke my hair. My dark threads,

tangled like the darkness in me. Last night the blankets slid

off the bed. If we had been more traditional,

you would have placed it over my body. You would’ve turned off

the lamp and shut the door. Then you would walk down the hall

to take yourself to bed. I would have known.

Did you know?

 

She said you are a gift,

you change the lives of everyone

who meets you, for the better.

I disagree. She said too, you should learn

 to be selfish. Take it back, turn away from it.

Best of all, she says prepare yourself

for the worst.

 

 
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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

En Pointe

The dancer’s feet adapt their shape to whatever position she bends them into,
And I am reminded of how clumsy and awkward mine are –
In comparison and on their own.

The brightness of her spirit would put the sun to shame,
Challenge even quasars to defend their astronomical power,
For she is as open and free as the universe itself.

The dancer’s life lies in her feet,
Laced up in a perfect bow,
Adapting to whatever position asked of them,
Bloody and broken when too much is commanded,
But still, she holds the bar with grace.

Her turns are reminiscent of celestial orbits,
Her routines exploding from subtle to brilliant to precise end
Like I am watching a nebula, gorgeous in its own right,
Begin to become a star and suddenly exploding to a red supergiant,
Where words fail to describe how magnificent, how impressive,
And billions of moments later but all too soon, dwindling down
To a red dwarf, a white dwarf who’s used itself up to create beauty.
It feels itself fading but refuses to be underestimated,
A glorious supernova that demands applause.

She dreams of being a star,
Not realizing she was born one.
Atoms of star stuff, gasses that shaped the universe
And decided she was a worthy reincarnation.

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

The Wisdom of Marriage

Marriage. To know the word is to peer into the deepest cave of human behavior. There is a biological presence in marriage. Out of the two come one—half and half and in the diploid reality there is the impulse to marry—to join together.

In my novel “Citadel” I ask the question—what is a human?

Lynn Margulis writes in “Acquiring Genomes”that sex is the exchange of genes. Bacteria, she writes, exchange genes from moment to moment in parallel so that bacteria have adapted so fast we can’t keep up with them.
Humans, Margulis writes, can exchange genes only once every nine months. As species go, we are slackers. Marriage does not occur in bacteria, does not occur in most species, although as the ethologists and biologists write—some species mate for all time.

In humans, marriage has not just a biological imperative, but a social one. Marriage is what you do unless you don’t want to do it. Not wanting to do it and getting away with it is a recent phenomenon.

Why do men focus on quantity—how many times a month, a week, a day, do they count having sex?

How many children a man produces is a measure of his fertility and worth. But it is not the men who bear the children. The women bear the children. In earlier sociobiological thinking there was a saying—sperm are cheap, eggs are expensive.

In every ejaculation, the normal male spews 300 million sperm into the world. Each woman produces at most two eggs a month. So, in the cheapness of sperm, there is a sociology of sex. Men are careless, women are careful. Marriage can be seen as a mechanism to assure a presence in a dyad that at one time needed that presence.

The book titled “Too Many Women” analyzes the issue of sex ratios—the number of males to females. Sex ratios signal the behavior of humans. In cultures where there are more men than women, women are treasured, women are sometimes kept isolated—in this there is a deep biology—the biology of paternity. The sociobiologists explain the step-parent in such clear terms it is amazing that we have not seen it before—a man as stepfather will only and with great reluctance invest his resources in another man’s offspring.

“That kid ain’t mine,” he says. Sarah Hrdy wrote about the languor monkeys. In her work, she reports that when the alpha male is displaced in a troop, the new Alpha kills the offspring of the old alpha and the females in the troop go into estrus and mate with the new Alpha. Male apes do not want to share paternity. Sperm is cheap—all males of the mammalian species have too many sperm yet the biology to explain that is still in the making. But it relates in some way to size.

The ova of all species are huge in comparison to the size of the Y chromosome. Of the 300 million sperm, one, perhaps two, make it through the wall of the ovum. Eggs are not only expensive, they are also very selective.

Selectivity is at the root of marriage and selectivity is at the root of natural law—rape is a violation not just of the female’s body but a violation of the entire process of sexual selection in evolution. The females of all species choose the male with the best genes. Genes are best shown in resources, behavior, and beauty.  In the “Rape of Troy”which is an application of evolutionary biology to the Iliad and the Odyssey, Gottschall writes that Greek women chose the strongest, most beauteous, most resourceful males, while Greek males made themselves strong, beautiful, and resourceful so that women would choose them. It was a cycle of fitness and marriage was a reward–to the most handsome, strongest, most invested male goes the hand of the woman and in that she makes a pact to receive his seed and to rear his young.

Marriage can be seen as the climax of the breeding experiment run by women. We live in a unique time. I call it the Niche. In my novel, “Citadel”, I write about Western women who are educated, who own property, who work, who own a business, who choose their sexual partners without the usual cause and effect—sex equals child. Child equals home. Home equals solitary living, isolation, desperation.

Western women have taken control of their bodies and they control their eggs. Women in the West set the tone. Women in the West can display their bodies without being stoned to death. Women in the West can have as many sexual partners as they have time and the will for. Marriage is no longer the crowning achievement—and in some cultures, it is to be avoided with the resulting decline not only in the sex ratios of men to women but in the entire population.

My son-in-law is Japanese. His brother Masayuki is married to Motoko. Motoko had a good job at Tokyo Electric, and she put off marriage for ten years while Masayuki courted and pled and worked. Motoko told him she did not want to marry because as a Japanese woman she would have to give up her job to follow him to each new assignment—which meant moving every 2 to 3 years. Multiply that dynamic by 100 million, and you see that marriage to the young westernized Japanese woman is not the crowning glory of her womanhood, but it is a punishment.

Deep in the biology of marriage, which is a legal state riding on a deep flow of genetic fitness, you see the flaws and the weaknesses of repressive thinking.

As culture has matured and transformed, humans are still running on Paleolithic legs. The result is a loosening of marriage as a cultural and social sine qua non and the return to the more true and more biological extended mating.

In a sense, humans have returned to their avian roots, and, like the swan, can mate for life without the need of any blessing. Marriage, as it evolves, has left its trappings in the dust and Gottschall is so right—males are a breeding experiment run by females. But what happens when a woman says no?

The “no” is a statement of the evolved female. The male reaction is usually to demonize the woman and not being satisfied with “no” imposes himself, and that is rape, and as rape, it violates the essence of sexual selection.

Choice is the word. Women choose. Men have to meet the demand.

In the lekking species such as sage grouse, and Bowerbirds, the male builds a lek which acts much like the stage in a Greek theater. In a flock of sage grouse, the males dance. They dance, they thump the ground of the lek and they puff out their breasts that look like balloons. The male who lasts, the last male standing, gets chosen. He is chosen for his beauty, his stamina, his body, his fat, his resources, and his strength. The female chooses. Always the female chooses.

Musth in the elephant. In musth the female shows her fertility—and then she runs. The males of the herd chase her. On the chase they develop green penis—an erection 2 feet long dripping with green exudate. Males chase the females, and the last male standing mates. He is chosen for his beauty, his resource, and his strength.

Marriage isn’t a question for elephants. In humans, it is a temporary interruption that allows the male to spew his paltry 300 million sperm in hopes that one of them will reach the ovum and his genes will be launched into the future.

Males are a breeding experiment run by females.

In the West, marriage is now more a cultural display along the lines of a potlatch to show wealth in lieu of a bride price or a dowry. A wedding can cost $50,000. A marriage likely to last only a few years. In this we see the Western female settling into serial polyandry—once, twice, thrice—marriage isn’t what it used to be.

Marriage in the West measures cultural and social changes resulting from the power of the free woman choosing.

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Arizona Heat

Walking Warriors

A Letter to the Mistress, Who Invaded My Marriage

Women Rising

I am not a political person; I am however a people person. I grew up in a middle-class home where morality, decency, and integrity were instilled in me since before I could walk. I was shown that everyone deserves the same respect no matter the race, gender, sexual preference or financial status.

My father and mother were proud Auburn natives. My father was a well-respected and beloved detective who wore the uniform with pride and treated everyone he met the same.

I left Auburn to pursue a successful international modeling career, traveling and living in Europe for two decades. I was immersed in other cultures and exposed to many different ways of life, both privileged and poverty. Traveling opened my eyes to diversity and acceptance. There was a time when being American oversees was enviable, and carried an enormous sense of pride. Not so much today, there is so much hate, and division. Our country has never been so ridiculed and filled with hatred. The LGBTQ community, seniors, women, blacks, poor, homeless and disabled are being mocked and ridiculed, literally cast side.

What happened to humanity?

I returned to The Finger Lakes after thirty years with a much broader and a better-informed view of humanity. We can no longer afford to put on blinders, to not reach out and help our neighbors against injustice and ignorance.

Living with a mental health diagnosis has made me a staunch advocate for mental illness, common sense gun safety measures like universal background checks, and health care that’s affordable for all. That is our god given right, and no one should be denied healthcare in this country.

Immigrants should be welcomed, not ripped from their mother’s arms. Standing with all sexual abuse survivors, the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh disgusts me. The misogynistic, male privileged culture and the one percent who are running this country do not care about you, or me.

That Trump would openly mock Dr. Ford, who came forward out of great personal sacrifice, is disgraceful. That he would mimic a disabled person on TV makes me ashamed of him, and angry. I am ashamed of our country’s trajectory.

We are no longer great, make no mistake, the world is laughing at us.

So I say bravo and thank you to Dana Balter, running for Congress, and every woman in every community who is stepping up, and standing up.

I have learned the majority of us want the same things. A safe and honorable life with food on the table, and one we can provide for our families.

As an author, activist, feminist, mental health advocate, woman, and humanist, who will use her voice loudly. I believe deeply that justice, equality for all and peace are worth fighting for. I stand behind Dana Balter because we need competent, strong and effective women who understand people over politics, and the desperate need to take back our country.

After the disastrous 2016 election, I sobbed and sobbed. Then I got angry. And, then I got informed and engaged. How can we stand by a President and administration that does not care about the middle class or the poor, who is a bully and unfit to run this country? Today, I’m getting back to my grassroots, my community and taking action. I’m standing beside those brave enough to stand up for us all.

“The people I love, the country I love, the values I love are all being threatened and I cannot stand idly by.”Dana Balter

“What you’re seeing is just this harmonic convergence where women are running, women are volunteering in campaigns, women are making record numbers of contributions,” said Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster. “And women are voting for Democrats, especially women Democrats.” NPR

ON #BLACKFRIDAYS, WE TURN OUR RAGE INTO CHANGE.

“Let’s stay awake. Let’s give them hell. Let’s rise up and fight for us, and for our children. For everyone’s children.” – Glennon Doyle

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If I Was Your Child    

Shulie

We DID Overcome

Serpent

He slithered up next me, a snake
looking for something to squeeze
and I thought I would choke
on the overwhelming odor of his lechery.
He was too close, always too close,
and I wish he had a rattle
to warn me of his presence.
He whispered in my ear,
his breath like hot sand,
gritty on my neck.
Was I wearing a thong?
Because my ass was jiggling.
His words were like neurotoxic venom
and I couldn’t move, couldn’t reach out,
grab him by the throat and stop
the flicking of his sordid tongue.
What could I do, standing there
frozen with indignation and shame?
What could I do, standing there
in the office of customer relations
where this man had the wrong idea
of what relations meant?
The poison made me laugh
when I wanted to cry.
It made me turn away
when I wanted to look him
in his leering eye and
tell him to fuck off.
I never understood why
Eve got all the blame,
while the serpent and man
devoured the flesh,
dropping naked cores behind them
as they slithered away.

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Anarchy

MARGARET

If I Was Your Child    

This Ain’t No Crisis

Screw midlife crisis.

This isn’t a crisis. It’s the furthest thing from.

It’s enlightenment. A goddamn renaissance. A beautiful soul-opening, mind-bending, heart-stopping, knee-weakening, see-it-with-eyes-wide-open awakening that has rendered me off-guard and breathless. My solar plexus is in a constant state of quiver. I cannot control a single speck of it.
I didn’t see this grand illumination coming. I didn’t feel it coming. It blindsided me.

It began in the middle of the night, with dreams so vivid I woke in a sweat of desire and confusion, committing each detail to precise memory so as not to forget, to hang on for dear life. Sleeping now means a journal and a pencil tucked under my pillow so I can scribble furiously in the dark the direction in which my subconscious is guiding me. Tender, powerful visions invade my brain at the grocery store, of all places, and force me to stand still, gripping the shopping cart for balance while standing in the produce aisle, gently testing the avocados for a little give, sniffing the melon’s core for that heady scent that promises nirvana on my tongue, not giving up on finding the sweetest one, because I’ll accept nothing less now than the absolute honey. The enlightenment comes on the highway, tears streaming down my face, not even feeling them drench my cheeks because I’m not crying. There are no sniffles, no sobs, no heaves.

I’m releasing.

I’m releasing those years of fighting the breast cancer that made me so fearful for so long I almost forgot how to breathe, how to eat, how to live, every decision driven by the sword of Damocles that swung over my head at every turn.

I’m releasing a fury upon these bureaucracies that refuse to extinguish the sexism, ageism, and ignorance that permeate them. Now, these indignities are spit in our face, the expectorate sliding down our cheeks, our furious tears washing them away, only to be drenched again and again and again. It is the price we pay for the degradation of possessing a vagina, the core of our body that provides love and pleasure and life. From the moment we are born we are taught to fiercely protect this one precious organ that is so sacred, only to have it – and us, our essence – violated by those whose delusions of grandeur and entitlement prove to us again and again that there is evil in this world, evil that is fought at the expense of our very soul.

I’m releasing from the years of fighting for justice, for my daughters who couldn’t yet fight for themselves, against the same sexism, ageism, ignorance, and delusions of grandeur and entitlement by those who assumed they had control over their adolescent bodies and brains. What they didn’t know was that for every adolescent girl there is a mother who would burn heaven and earth to ashes if you so much as even harbor a hint of hurting her.

I’m releasing from the profound effects of emotional and physical exhaustion that smothers as you discover that the only way to claim justice is to go far, far outside of yourself, so far that you have no choice but to retreat from the world so that your spine can become straighter and stronger. There was no time to grow one, as it is said. I had no time, no choice but to take the one I had and build on it. Turns out, my spine was far stronger than I ever gave it credit.

The manufacture and secretion of estrogen and even a single drop of your own power means always and forever fighting for something. Against something. For everything.

Well.

The enlightenment is the gift that comes after fighting for the justice that came at steep prices, the effects of which I will never fully reconcile. They are with me for life.

The renaissance is the shedding of the old, the archaic ideas and beliefs and stale ways of giving and receiving life and love, the good-girl ideology that was ground into me by the expectations of others who held only their own personal dreams and desires at their core. I’ve demons yet to slay, but I’m no longer afraid. I welcome them now.

The awakening is the finding of myself after helping everyone find themselves.

It was never about me.

But it is now.

If you say to me, “you’re having a little crisis, that’s all,” you should know ahead of time that these are fighting words. I’ve more than earned this enlightenment, this renaissance, this awakening and I have every earthly intention of living them through with unbridled joy. Support me in them; otherwise, your opinion means nothing to me. And in time, you may mean nothing to me as well.

These nocturnal visions of mine are still coming to me, thank the Universe, because I know I will die a little inside if they stop. And I am overjoyed that they have turned into the most delicious diurnal dreams about people I’ve not yet met and events that have not yet happened. I hold fierce hope and desire that one day, all may be revealed to me. It’s as if they were there all along, locked up within the deepest recesses of my brain, my psyche, my soul. I don’t know what specific event has unleashed them and that matters not to me. These visions are a part of me now, and they have brought joy and wonder, lust and feeling back into my life.

What a gift indeed.

Photo Credit: -Jeffrey- Flickr via Compfight cc

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Social Media “Blackout” Proves Women Will not be Silenced

“Tomorrow, female blackout…”

A writer friend sent the missive Saturday evening. The next day, women were to change their Facebook profile pictures to a simple, black square to illustrate to men what a day without women would look like. The scheme was billed as an effort to draw awareness to domestic abuse.

Sure, I thought, I’ll do it. If there was ever a time for us to band together, the time is now. I passed along the instructions to a number of women friends and replaced the sunny photo of me hiking with my husband with darkness in solidarity with my sisters.

Or so I thought.

Rather than seeing this stark united front as empowering, many took it as another way to silence women and erase our experiences. One friend, an author and comic, wrote poignantly on her Facebook page of abuse that began when she was 13 at the hands of a church elder. When she was five, she watched as a man threw her mother down a flight of stairs. There was more, but the point is my friend remained silent for a very long time about these travesties and finds it far more powerful now to speak out rather than disappear, even if only for a day. “I am not blacking out my profile pic,” she wrote, “because I’m still here. And so are you.”

Another friend, a television screenwriter, vowed never to be silent and invisible. “Now more than ever, I need to keep making noise… I refuse to ever black out, back down or silence my voice.” Both these friends expressed solidarity with the women who were blacking out. They were without judgment and were cognizant of the good intentions and sentiment behind the exercise.

A third friend, an actor who initially was open to blacking out her profile pic, had a change of heart, passing along this from an acquaintance who’s a comedian, radio and TV personality: “Stop sending me black your profile and be silent bull—t… Will the woman who came up with this please check herself…”

Okay, so that response wasn’t quite as compassionate and understanding as the first two and contained some pretty blatant finger-pointing. But it gave me a lot to think about, including the ways in which we use our privilege to “help” a cause without thinking our actions through in a logical, mindful and sensitive way.

Most women I know have been triggered in some way after details of the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh became known. Indeed, whenever a new #MeToo scandal breaks, many of us are flooded with unpleasant, even terrifying, memories. We walk around for days with stomachs churning and nerves rattling as we once again relive the most distressing truths of our past.

There is much wisdom to the notion that women should not be relegated to the sidelines, especially when it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault. We must find a way for these moments in time to be galvanizing rather than causing conflict and division. That doesn’t mean we have to act alike, think the same or express ourselves in identical ways.

Blackouts, marches, and sit-ins all have their place. There is room for diverse forms of protest and advocacy; it would behoove us to get, if not on the same page, at least into the same notebook. The anonymity of arguing with friends of friends on social media is example enough that we are not there yet. Rhetoric, partisanship, name-calling and even faux Christianity, I hear you loud and clear. I don’t understand why you support Brett Kavanaugh, but please be nice about it.

During the Senate’s questioning of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Sen. Cory Booker called her a hero for stepping up to tell her story in such a humiliating and public arena. (I love that he said “hero” and not “heroine.”) Dr. Ford and the protestor who confronted Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator with calls to “Look at me when I’m talking to you” are the heroes we need today. It is phenomenal that women whose names we’d never heard before have become beloved symbols of bravery overnight, giving us courage to speak up as well.

I should have more fully considered the impact and the history of muteness in social movements late on Saturday night, after a dinner party, when I blithely posted the dark, voiceless square on my Facebook page. I agree with my friends that our voices must be heard, that we must be seen, and that we let abusers know they will no longer be protected by our silence.

We will not look the other way, and we will never shut up.

Photo Credit: mripp Flickr via Compfight cc

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