Friday, 31 March 2017

The Meditative Moon

by Allyson Whipple

The moon had grown restless. After eons and eons of the same routine, she had come to resent her responsibility to Earth and its tides. She was tired of asteroids and comets brushing against her, marring her skin. She felt old, tired, and dried up.
            The sun advised her not to make any rash decisions, and advised her to take up zazen, to calm her restlessness and help her find contentment with her place in the universe.
            On her hundredth day of meditation, the moon had a realization, and the realization was that meditation wasn’t going to help her at all. The sun had just suggested it so as to keep her in line. She was sick and tired of having to reflect his light or sit and shiver in his shadow.
            It took all of her strength, but she broke free of her orbit and went soaring through space like the ship that had once landed on her back and pierced a flagpole through her brittle skin. As though she was anyone’s territory. As the moon picked up velocity, the flag flew off and got sucked into a black hole.
            Now it was her turn to crash into a few planets and shake things up.

* * * * *

Allyson Whipple is an MFA student at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, most recently Come Into the World Like That (Five Oaks Press). Allyson teaches at Austin Community College.

Thursday, 30 March 2017


by Elise Stuart

Reached down into the bed of iris,
long neglected since their spring blooming.
The slim, brown leaves,
pulled from their summer bed,
like trying to hold hands with a ghost.
Slender wrists,
some barely attached to the ground.

My friend left for the other side in June.
When I last saw her, she was barely
connected to earth.
Watching her sleep,
she resembled an old man, a newborn babe,
a wisp of herself,
the way she held her hand, her little finger, curled in.

Couldn't pull her back,
or wake her from whatever dream she was in.
I only wanted to watch her,
and let love be the silent language
that moved,
cried, sang—
between us.

* * * * *

Elise Stuart moved to Silver City, New Mexico in 2005. She came to know the desert as a place where small yellow flowers grow in arroyos, fed by underground streams, where shallow rivers and occasional rains nourish every living thing. In the stark beauty of the desert landscape, she found her home. When she became Poet Laureate of Silver City in 2014, she envisioned giving young people a way to express themselves, so developed and facilitated numerous poetry workshops throughout Grant County. Students wrote their poems on muslin "poem flags," which are currently displayed throughout the community. Elise Stuart is the author of Another Door Calls.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017


from Meditations on dear Petrov

Set in 19th Century Russia during a time of war

by Susan Tepper

White is the color most blinding. You say it’s the snows and naturally they will be blinding.  Safe in your chair at the fireside it is easy to wave off my fears. I am aware of the snows. The snows have formed my bones. When I’m placed in the ground and my flesh has been eaten my bones will be the whitest white. Marbleized. Sharp tools to cultivate the dirt. A farmer might come upon me by accident. His dog having sniffed out my shallow grave. Barking deliriously.  Snatching an arm bone between its teeth.  Joyously running in circles. A great discovery. Will I be watching this moment unfold. Trembling, I fear it to be the case. Death always on the tip of my tongue. Even when my tongue has slipped far back into memory. Unable to make the slightest utterance. What of your own death, dear Petrov. Warm now at the fire but when you are in battle. You laugh off my questions lighting your pipe. Leave the plates for later you say.  You say I should come sit beside you. I move slowly. Hearing my skirts rustle. If I had a choice in death I would become a leaf. Travelling the four seasons. One entire rotation. It’s enough. A single leaf amongst millions. That seems a satisfying end.

* * * * *

More about Susan Tepper's widely published work can be found at

Tuesday, 28 March 2017


from Meditations on dear Petrov

Set in 19th Century Russia during a time of war

by Susan Tepper

Honest men abound you say.  Where, dear Petrov. Where do such honest men abound.  On the great battlefields.  Are these the honest men of which you speak.  Or perhaps chopping wood in resigned silence.  Or in the marketplace.  The smithy.  Around me I see only rude men.  Anxious to fondle anyone wearing a skirt.  Men licking their mouths lasciviously.  Pushing their faces into the breasts and throat without invitation.  Don’t they realize their spittle is foul.  Is that part of the honesty.  Putting forth all they have.  A sad truth.  Women to lie beneath them while they get their fill.  As in the smoky taverns.  Whisky overflowing.  Men grabbing and gobbling food and drink. A well turned ankle.  Everyone shoved together like a quilt stitched out of control.  One facet in the wrong direction the quilt becomes destruction. Squares and diamonds breaking apart.  Underneath such a quilt will be cold.  Winds entering spaces missing soft stuffed cotton. Colder than the darkest nights.  Starless.  Unforgiving.  To bring forth a child on such a night.  Imagine. The child pushes for its life while the mother is helpless.  No choice.  Is that when the honest men finally appear.

* * * * *

More about Susan Tepper's widely published work can be found at

Monday, 27 March 2017

High-Intensity Lamp

by Judy Swann

This is the point in my life where I want
a fancy, high-intensity lamp
and not because I need to know more about the world
(here’s where Plato starts to make sense)
but because we no longer have a public
used to getting its information in rhymed texts;
site-driven ad-choices, down to the actual
corner of a state, that’s what we have now.

If the point is not to be a better person
there is no point; and you don’t get to start
back where it wasn’t already a mess, living in
Notsobadistan with your lover and your son,
where the obscure, train-wail sound of the pheasant
meets the empty point of universality in
the Liberation News Service’s block print
book about stones on the second-hand rack.

An older girl skips a stone on the lake, where
a woman tenderly washes her lover’s hair,
where Baptists wash each others’ feet with
a different tenderness but the same abandonment
by God, and still the devotional literature consoles. It
weaves itself around you like bees at the end
of strawberry season, not interested in you, but the smell
of honeysuckle hedge, a whiff of motorcycle.

Throw away the husk and grasp the succulent
death-seed, no prudent warm blanket at hand.
Wrap ourselves as best we can in lignum
vitae, and draw the monitoring gaze of the blazing
world, no swans in ice, thank you. And nothing
for sale. We moved everything out into the bright
sunlight of the yard and cordoned off the plastic.
No captions, no links, no tags. It was good.
Oh my god I am so alone.

* * * * *

Judy Swann is a poet, essayist, editor, and bicycle commuter, whose work has been published in many venues both in print and online. Her book, We Are All Well: The Letters of Nora Hall has given her great joy. She loves. She lives in Ithaca, NY.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Today the tapestry of Writing In A Woman's Voice resumes (yay!) with Melodie Corrigall's story "Chariot of Fire."


by Melodie Corrigall

Hurtling along the Trans Canada Highway into the dusk, perched upright in my orange Toyota, I’m a charioteer in my Chariot of Fire, blissfully ignorant of what may be around the bend.

I am potent.

Extra octane surges through my pulsating veins. Today, I challenge the Universe: hand to hand combat, best out of three.

Such is the result of a week of unbridled freedom on an otherwise encumbered female’s psyche.

By rights I am no longer encumbered. Friend husband was shucked off some years ago in a moment of lucidity; friend daughter waved off to adventures in Europe with a few extra dollars “in case.” But I am one of those mortals who carries the heartaches and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to on her shoulders.

I take in strays.

Not this week, though. This week I move with the freedom of the gods. Seven days to do exactly as I like. Things not necessarily useful, of no redeeming social value, of no value whatsoever except to my soul—that frail bird whose glorious multi‑coloured plumage is usually buried in the littered nest of expediency.

How I had anticipated these rare moments: away from work, away from family. I could sleep uninterrupted for hours, days, the entire week. Only the protests of my calcifying bones would finally lift me from the bed, I promised my hassled self as I flew around frantically clearing up the last few chores.

I could take the dictionary into the bathroom and sit there until my bottom became permanently etched with the toilet bowl ring, slowly reading from ‘aardvark’ to ‘zygote.’ No phones to ring, no one to disturb me for “just one minute.”

I could buy a violin and learn to play a concerto, or write a novel with three hundred and sixty‑eight undisciplined characters, none of whom appear more than once.

I would be alone, unencumbered, no schedules, no housework and no guilty “shoulds.” I could lie on the floor and contemplate the ceiling, stretch out on the damp grass and converse with the clouds until my bones, my muscles, or my boredom moved me. No alarm clocks to shatter my pristine time; all regulated by my own internal clock. Fantastic.

“Who will help me plant the seeds?”
“Not I said the pig.”

The Fact is I did none of the above. One seldom does, but freedom is the “could have” and I had a wonderful time. (Sent no e-mails saying, “Wish you were here.”)

Why don’t we do this more often? I mused as I stared mesmerized at store windows, drifted through art galleries, read urgently into the night.

When inclined—dinner with someone else cooking and washing up and me just sipping my chilled German wine, and thinking about the cosmos or fresh blueberry pie.  Uninterrupted images unrelated to daily errands would drift through my brain: growing, expanding, and then floating off into the black velvet sky. Or if I choose something more dramatic, images would be retrieved and painted in luminous green stripes: my choice and my stripes.

I’d be hand in hand with me, giggling together, exchanging sly winks, such a wonderful, witty, light-footed woman.  We could build things together: bridges, cathedrals, golden cities. We could write symphonies in E minor. We could start the revolution.

And flying down the highway heading home, I can still feel the power. Today I embrace you, glorious Vancouver. No housework here.
The wash of golden paint on the horizon fades; evening descends. Human lights prickle the dusky sky.

Maybe I’ll fix up the house. Transform the musty old place into what I want it to be. Peter’s tastes had been conservative. Compromises in lifestyle had painted us beige. But now, what can I do? Refinish the house in wood siding? Put on a verandah? I’ll paint it all by myself.

Around the corner, unto my street then horrors, there, in my spot, is Eric’s car. The kid is back.

The little bugger, I mutter as I heave my bulging suitcase out of the trunk, suck in my breath, pull up my shorts, and head for the ring.

As I hit the bottom step the front door explodes open. The kid, lanky, disheveled, lurches out, barring my way.

“Where’s dad?” he cries accusingly, inferring I have his father in a burlap sack in my car trunk.

“David’s on holiday,” I grunt struggling to push past the fleshy encumbrance into my house.

“You went together.”

“We spent two weeks together, the last week we went our separate ways.”

The kid smirks knowingly.

“Sometimes people like time alone,” I suggest.

This Eric does not believe. He always has at least seven others, all the same make and model as him, milling around intimately in his life. They move like a giant centipede to the movies, the pizza place, the basement, to drink, to eat, to smoke, and to do ‘whatever.’ They may even do ‘whatever’ collectively. They probably share the photos on-line.

The battle continues on the front stoop. I, bulky suitcase in hand, coat dragging over my arm, purse dangling from my weary shoulder, shove against Eric. He stares towards the empty car, expecting his father to materialize, which I wish he would. I’d give him back his son, wrapped even.

Never trust white wine and soft music.

The romance à deux with David became an uncomfortable ménage à trois until my daughter was shipped off to Europe. We no sooner had started to savour our moments alone when David’s son Eric landed on us. Whatever the reason—bad genes, bad parenting, or bad luck, David’s son Eric is a nebbish: unmotivated, uncaring, unconcerned, and out of it.

David ruefully agrees and we plot into the night how to relocate “the kid” to an adequate apartment some distance away with Sunday visiting privileges.

Eric is not keen. We haven’t offered a housekeeper in the new location and he is no cook. Being a soft touch I have so far not insisted. By fall, though, the gentleman caller has promised to set up camp somewhere other than our living room couch.

“Sit,” Eric snaps, wrenching my suitcase from my sweaty hand like an anxious porter.

I had anticipated soaking my tired muscles in a piping hot bath until they were lobster red, soothing music in the background, a cool glass of Riesling at hand. Instead I am ordered to seat myself in my own house by a disconnected young fellow who has, I suddenly note with horror, an anxious female appendage leering from behind his bony shoulder.

“Do you need a drink?” Eric challenges, stressing the word “need.”

“Will this take long?” They are too exuberant to be bearers of bad news.

“No, no,” they topple over one another to assure me.

We sit. They on the corners of their seats slightly forward glancing conspiratorially at one another. A wave of fatigue sweeps over me, my shoulders seize from the long drive, my eyes itch.


“We’re getting married,” Eric chokes out triumphantly.

“Oh?” I venture.

“As soon as possible,” the girl asserts defiantly.

I know the girl’s name. It’s Brenda. I’m just too nasty to use it.

“Oh,” I offer in a slightly higher register, knowing how furious David will be.

“This is a surprise.”

“Why should it be?” the girl snaps, “People in love marry.”

And diamonds are forever.
“What about Eric’s school year?”

“We’ll manage.”

On David’s money, I expect

“Mother has already booked the hall,” the girl cries triumphantly.

What can I say? My third ‘oh’ floats across the room, an orphaned bubble.

“When is it to be?”

“June 30.”

“We thought you’d be pleased,” the girl grumbles, “being a woman.”

Although a woman, I am not in the bridal business.

“Of course, but marriage is a serious business.”

So speaks the Victorian matron.

“We know. We see the breakups. We’ve learned from that.”

I am part of the breakups, as is David. What we have learned from that I am uncertain.

“We already have a list of over 100 guests,” the girl concludes.

Eric mooning in the background notes my skepticism and charges to his lady’s defense.

“It’s a good sized hall on Broadway.”

And how can you argue with a good-sized hall? 

“We were wondering,” the bride‑to‑be offers a thin want‑something smile, “just to give a hand if Eric could, well, stay on.”

“I told dad I’d leave,” the cowboy admits, “but it would cost a lot.”

“Let me think on it,” I recoil refusing to be bulldozed the first day back.

Slyly I suggest that I treat them to a celebration supper at a local restaurant, just the two of them. It will be more romantic.

“You sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Gee, okay.”

Push. Push. At the door, the bride turns back.

“Eric and I,” she says blushing coyly, “wondered if you could persuade David to tie the knot.”

My eyes narrow.

“Mommy thinks it would be awfully nice for the big day if you and David were legit.”

I couldn’t wait to meet mommy.

“She says it might be just the prod David needs.”

So much for wine and roses. Should I confess that the only way David will get me down the aisle is in a coffin? No, better skip the witticisms with this crowd.

“Ta,” the fiancée winks, abandoning me to gasp like a beached whale on my front stoop. Eric’s “ciao” echoes in the distance.

The empty house slowly ingests my defeated protoplasm, obliterating the orange flash of my Chariot of Fire.

In a last gasp I struggle to regain the life force, to recall the power. To fly again.

* * * * *

Melodie Corrigall is an eclectic Canadian writer whose stories have appeared in Litro UK, Foliate Art, Emerald Bolts, Earthen Journal, Still Crazy and The Write Place at the Write Time (