Sunday, 24 June 2018


Perdition

by Betsy Mars


Seeking solace in ice cream, cream cake,
calorie counting, maintaining a semblance of control,
pounds falling off like ill-fitting jeans.
The anorexic spell is broken, and another cycle begins:
binge and purge: indulgence without consequences
I think - until my acid-washed tonsils rebel and I’m 19
in the pediatric ward, recovering with Jello
and ice cream (no less) and syrup sweet codeine
to lessen the pain.

Discharged, exercise replaces bulimia -
another attempt to control
my body, my image - seeking perfection -
always striving to be my mother, my brother, another.
Rigid allegiance to my self-imposed
regime: a dictator without discretion.

My 20s and 30s spent running away from myself
into music and television, the noise a distraction
from the void my dreams left when puberty arrived.
Finding comfort in fantasy and adrenaline,
in other people’s struggles, followed by
withdrawals from Downton Abbey,
the end of basketball season, the last episode of Survivor.

Seeking my next fix, pink elephants push into the room,
filling its empty space, rearing on heavy hindquarters,
their pleather skin breaking out in a cold sweat of withdrawal.
Pain and change are a nicotine patch
on my spirit, my spirit emptied, lost.
Bone-shaking delirium, tremors
against the open places, seeking an edge,

seeking a boundary, a safe place, strait-jacketed.
Bouncing from one extreme to the other,
not knowing or wanting any middle ground.
Swaddled, disarmed and alarmed, I move
on to the next, high or low:
only stimulus or sleep can soothe,
no solace in purgatory, anything to avoid
confronting myself.

* * * * *

Perdition was first published in Snorted the Moon & Doused the Sun: An Anthology of Addiction Poetry, edited by Deann Meeks Brown and Raundi Moore-Kondo (For the Love of Words Press, copyright 2017).

Betsy Mars is a southern California poet who is in a perpetual battle with change – finally coming to some kind of a truce, and at times even love and acceptance. She is an educator, mother, animal lover, and over-excited traveler. Her poetry has been published in a number of places, both online and in print, most recently in Sheila-Na-Gig, The Ekphrastic Review, and Red Wolf Journal. Writing has given her a means to explore her preoccupation with mortality and her evolving sense of self.


Saturday, 16 June 2018

Writing In A Woman's Voice is now on summer solstice break from June 17 through June 23, 2018. New voices will resume here on June 24, 2018. Happy summer solstice to everyone in the northern hemisphere and happy winter solstice to those in the southern hemisphere and much happiness to all of you in all your seasonal celebrations.
A Short Half-Life

by Betsy Mars


Trickling tears well up
from some dire place –
a hint of a headache
nags at the back of the
serotonin control center,
the receptor gates raised with the blood waters –
with the ebb and flow
of the chemical mix
of the unbalanced psyche.
I reach for an explanation and find it
in the still-snapped compartment
of my daily dosage:
the remains of a pill, forgotten in the morning rush
until the reawakening of the sleeping
black dog that claws at my raw edges.


* * * *

The severity of withdrawal symptoms is associated with the half-life of the drug involved. Half-life refers to how long half the concentration of a drug stays in the body. The longer the half-life, the less severe withdrawal symptoms will be, since the drug will have the capacity to taper itself off of the biological system of the person taking it.

Source: 
Pristiq Withdrawal (Desvenlafaxine) - Drugsdb.com http://www.drugsdb.com/rx/pristiq/pristiq-withdrawal/#ixzz4ySRqXsPY

Betsy Mars is a southern California poet who is in a perpetual battle with change – finally coming to some kind of a truce, and at times even love and acceptance. She is an educator, mother, animal lover, and over-excited traveler. Her poetry has been published in a number of places, both online and in print, most recently in Sheila-Na-Gig, The Ekphrastic Review, and Red Wolf Journal. Writing has given her a means to explore her preoccupation with mortality and her evolving sense of self.


Friday, 15 June 2018


Poet Laureate of the Laundromat

by Rie Sheridan Rose


Poetry full of iridescent imagery
awes my mind.
Words that sing an unknowable cadence
but speak volumes.
Intricate tapestries woven of words
creating miraculous visions...
But they are not my poems.
My poems speak fairy tales,
or slyly offer sarcasm to
prick a pompous bubble.
My poems offer philosophy,
but cracker barrel, not heavenly.
My poems weep remembered tears,
or share forgotten songs.
My poems tell of laundromats,
not Luxembourg.
The pictures they paint
aren't by the numbers,
but they aren't Degas either.
More Norman Rockwell than
Andy Warhol...
I leave surrealism to
those that speak in riddles.
I am a meat and potatoes girl,
uneasy in the banquet hall.
But my poetry is my own,
and to me, it shines like diamonds.
I am poet laureate of the laundromat.


* * * * *

"Poet Laureate of the Laundromat" first appeared in Writer's Café and is part of Rie Sheridan Rose's chapbook Take Out.

Thursday, 14 June 2018


Bachelor Girl

by Sarah Henry


Her church holds
a night of recreation
for singles who
are active members.
She seeks
a determined man.

A preacher
leads the group.
He flattens his hands
on a long wooden
table to be honest.
“Now,
I don’t want
any of you here
going out
with each other
without my consent,”
he says,
from an omniscient
point of view.
And then--
“Let’s order pizza.”

Members rush
into an annex
and play frantic
volleyball matches.
Loners pace
back and forth
on the sidelines.
Out in the parking
lot, dark, desperate
snow falls
over lost cars.

The girl’s bed
will be half empty
or half full.
Time will pass
slowly or quickly
until she goes again.


* * * * *

Sarah Henry studied with two U.S. poet laureates at the University of Virginia. Today she lives near Pittsburgh, where her poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Poetry Review. More of Sarah work has been included in Writing in a Woman's Voice, MUSED:The Bella Online Literary Review, and the International Woman's Day issue of The Camel Saloon. She is retired from a newspaper.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018


In Retrospect,                                            by Devon Balwit


the mistake was to trust
machines, their makers,
my will, to be stronger
than sly algorithms,
the dopamine rush of
the ever-larger number.

The mistake was to offer up
one part after another in
a peep-show to strangers,
assuming one would fall
in love, my very own
happily ever after.

The mistake was not to leave
once I knew, but what
a profusion of flowers after
the fat lip, the cloy of lilies
over blood, the belonging
signaled by the blue bruise.

The mistake was to turn
my back on the children,
thinking them safe
in their rooms, the camera
slowly panning over
the slack-faced teddy bear.

The mistake was to absent myself
from seasons, from lungs
and rough hide, itch and chaff,
the pebble in the shoe,
the slow hours where nothing
yet everything happens.


* * * * *

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and three collections out, among them: We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (A collaboration with Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic); Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders); and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, the Aeolian Harp Folio, Red Earth Review, Queen's College Quarterly, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Red Paint Hill, and more.


Tuesday, 12 June 2018


On the Syllabus

by Devon Balwit


What we’re trying to teach is that failure is not a bug of learning, it’s the feature…
                                                                                                             Rachel Simmons

Sign me up for failure 101, teach me
a cat’s cradle for empty hands,

a repurposing. Walk me through a syllabus
detailing loss: this being ignored, this

belittling, this rejection, this the brain
consigned to a shelf, this the body

constrained to the traces, a hard-used
machine not under warranty. All my life,

I’ve been cotton-swaddled, able to fall
the length of the belaying rope

but no further, always bailed out
before a night spent on piss-stained

concrete. Push me down, but gently.
Punch me where I am already

padded. Let me practice bruises
before fractures, being average

before the hard-scrabble of a tarp
on the banks of the freeway.

Thank you for helping me transition
into ordinary, for easing me down

from my pedestal. I have taped
your certificate to my wall, a surrogate

for the mantel, the well-dusted altar
of the bourgeois temple.


* * * * *

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and three collections out, among them: We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (A collaboration with Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic); Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders); and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, the Aeolian Harp Folio, Red Earth Review, Queen's College Quarterly, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Red Paint Hill, and more.