Friday, 13 October 2017

Fetish: For Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind

by Heather Steinmann


“What was the address where the body was found?” a reporter said.
The sheriff (laughs, says):  
“that thing hasn’t had an address for years…
a side note, that’s where I hunt my deer”  (reporters laugh).

The internet is an enormous radio
where you can find
how many units an apartment building has,
an ultrasound picture,
how to induce or remove.

***

A fetish is an object inhabited by spirit, fixated on or worshipped by a lesser being.

Also it can be a small, carved bead or ornament.

***

8 months pregnant.
22 years old.
Member of the Spirit Lake Tribe.

They said that when she was a child
Savanna made a friend by crossing the street and asking
“do you want to go for a walk?”

They said that she loved everybody.

They said that one out of three indigenous women go missing in their lifetime
but this case might be different.

They said we’re looking into whether the fetus
was induced or removed
and that happens
but this case might be different.

They said “womb raiders” follow a pattern.
This one seemed no different.

We seldom see what lies under water until a part of it surfaces.

They said she went upstairs to help a neighbor sew a dress.

***

When she got there it was different.

They said the apartment complex has 7 units, 3 stories.

Her boyfriend said they’d been together for 7 years.

They said the neighbor
had 7 children scattered
none that she wanted but this one.

***

16 or 24 steps a headline said she walked up the stairs and people were mad they said which is it 16 or 24 they said we need to know but what they really wanted to know was how many of what inside  

***

In the newspaper they said fetal abduction is rare but
there have been 18 in 43 years in the US
and just two mothers lived.
Women don’t get killed by women all that often
only these cases are different.
In the newspaper they don’t always say the victim’s names.

Margaret—Cindy—Deborah—Carethia—Margarita—Teresa—Carolyn—Bobbie—Jimella—Araceli—Kia—Julie—Jamie—Martiza—Victoria—Michelle—Angelikque—Savanna—


***

Another neighbor heard a banging in the bathtub for 15 or 20 minutes,
and then the shower came on around 1:30 or 2:00.

7 children scattered but those weren’t the one
“That’s the one. That’s the baby I want.”
A year before Savanna the neighbor
accosted a woman in a restaurant
a white woman but a white woman
with a brown child.
7 children scattered but she said “That’s the one. That’s the baby I want.”


***

American Indian women are murdered more than ten times the national average.


***

9 days until her body was found
just 2 until her baby was found with the neighbor.
He said the one with 7 children scattered said to him
“this is our baby, this is our family.”
7 children scattered but this one would have light brown skin
smooth and takeable.

Induced or removed.
This kind of evil makes us search the faces of the people we know.

A fetish can be a small bead, a carving of a being believed to have power.


***

8 months along,
her body nothing but someone else's personal calendar
an incubator
then a stopwatch
what was the sound it made when it was done in 15 or 20 minutes?

A countdown, tearing off each little paper on a chain.

  
***

Her 16-year-old brother heard he thought a sewing machine.
God keep his mind in a place he can find it.
They said she met her death by walking
16 or 24 steps
then 15 or 20 minutes
to help with a sewing project.

Our mothers taught us
if you don’t get what you want you’re not supposed to
take it from someone
you don’t craft a story
sew it up
to make the pieces of it fit.

A woman’s work is never done.

Her mother who said right away she was missing.
Her father who knocked on the door.
Her brother who knocked on the door.
The mothers who came to search.

What a mother is
would hold the 22-year-old 8-months along child
and tell her that she can have anything in the world that she wants.


***

Savanna asked
“Is it normal to have an extremely hard time breathing…
I’m 35 weeks and miserable.”

When they found her body
surfaced on a river log
the baby’s father said
“I can’t breathe.”

To carve out a plot is to lay waste to the whole story.
The mother of a culture discarded,
the taking of a trinket.
It happens all the time.


***

Over 50% of assaults on American Indian women are committed by non-natives.
This one was no different.

15 or 20 minutes,
the bathtub,
the enormous radio can’t capture
how quietly one came and one went.


***

27 miles away from my childhood home is a lake,
it grows closer by the day,
taking land and sometimes lives.
The Spirit Lake.
As a child I wondered at a picture on a cafe wall
of a lake monster, serpentine and mostly submerged.

The kayakers that found her,
they might have checked for a chance of rain but really
how many of us can say
we go down to the river
without a fraction of our hearts
scanning the undercurrent for
the sad story of someone rising?

I don’t know if it is a mystery
or a love affair.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Moon on the Ending of a Decade

by Helen Bar-Lev


This moon knows it’s special
as though appointed by celestial majesty
to reign this one night, full, royal blue
you can tell by its shine,
its brightness emphasized by
a swirl of clouds, embracing it,
its crisp definition,
as though it drew a line around itself,
to draw attention to its uniqueness
to render it three-dimensional
to the viewer on Earth, awed,
on a decade’s ending,
on a new year’s night


* * * * *

© 1.2010 Helen Bar-Lev

Helen Bar-Lev was born in New York in 1942. www.helenbarlev.com  She holds a B.A. in Anthropology, has lived in Israel for 46 years and has had over 90 exhibitions of her landscape paintings, 34 of which were one-woman shows. Her poems and artwork have appeared in numerous online and print anthologies. Six poetry collections, all illustrated by Helen. She is the Amy Kitchener senior poet laureate. Helen was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2013 and is the recipient of the Homer European Medal for Poetry and Art. Helen is Assistant to the President of Voices Israel. She lives in Metulla, Israel.




Wednesday, 11 October 2017

A March Full Moon

by Helen Bar-Lev


One in the morning
a full moon looks through the window
disdainful
my friend full moon, dream-inducing,
in a night which has just crossed
the border to the Ides of March

I cannot sleep

The sun set white yesterday
to the backdrop of an egg-shell sky
if in the desert, it would have been perfect
but un-noteworthy in the city,
except to poets

White sun, full moon,
sisters in the same heaven

All the sleep incantations,
the holy entities invoked
the dozen remedies,
conventional and otherwise,
healing herbal teas,
to clear up this cold,
are for naught
and my chest congests to breathlessness

I am a slave to air
which refuses to go further
than the nostrils
the night is endless

Yesterday, a few hours ago,
the jackals howled to salute the moon,
at ten pm, earlier than usual
now an unhealthy siren shrieks
and dogs with it
the jackals sleep
I cannot

I sit in the rocking chair
covered and uncomfortable
did not know that all of a sudden
birds begin to chirp
that they all awaken,
every species of them
in perfect avian unison,
at the same almost-dawn moment

Was not aware how active the cats are
in the dark and then I sleep,
I know I’ve slept because of a dream
an hour, no more, but blessed,
it is almost six a.m.


* * * * *

© 3.2006 Helen Bar-Lev

Helen Bar-Lev was born in New York in 1942. www.helenbarlev.com  She holds a B.A. in Anthropology, has lived in Israel for 46 years and has had over 90 exhibitions of her landscape paintings, 34 of which were one-woman shows. Her poems and artwork have appeared in numerous online and print anthologies. Six poetry collections, all illustrated by Helen. She is the Amy Kitchener senior poet laureate. Helen was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2013 and is the recipient of the Homer European Medal for Poetry and Art. Helen is Assistant to the President of Voices Israel. She lives in Metulla, Israel.


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

My Smile

by Anne Peterson


I tasted happy this week
I let myself smile 
and didn’t wipe it off.
It was the real kind of smile,
not the kind you put on 
when someone is around.

wanted to wear it longer
to actually keep it for myself.
But guilt convinced me
little grins and half-smiles,
were all I deserved.

I handed back
my little smile.

I miss it.


* * * * *

Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, and published author of 14 books. She has written Broken: a story of Abuse and Survival, several children's books and some poetry books. You can see Anne's books here at her author page. To find out more about Anne, visit her website at www.annepeterson.com or you can visit her Facebook author page.



Monday, 9 October 2017

FORGIVE THE SHIP FOR SINKING

by Monica Suriyage


Forgive your mother for sleeping
she doesn't have much of a say
of when she can dream 
or when you want her opinion

Forgive the brain for thinking
it always takes the blame
for making blood red
and pushing people away

Forgive your lover for leaving
it wasn't with intent to hurt
it was because love could be better
even though you feel unearthed

Forgive the sun for blinding
it doesn't know what else to do
but to keep the darkness away
by pretending it's behind the moon

Forgive the ship for sinking
to stay about water
is to be the likes of Jesus
and that can't be expected of anyone

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Tell Me Something

by Andrena Zawinski


(on an anniversary of my mother’s death after dreaming
her saying: “Please, just let me sleep.”)


Tell me something. Tell me about your walk to school,
how you so loved the snow, and about the classroom,
the potbelly stove and its warm––tell me again
how your lead pencil transformed itself into the magic
of letter, word, meaning singing the lines of the page.

Tell me again how each winter you disassembled
those pickle barrels, turned scrappy slats into snowshoes,
winding burlap and baling wire around makeshift mukluks
for a two-mile coal town hike through the Laurel Highlands.

And tell me about the cold, how you swathed your hands
with wool socks your mother crocheted from leftover skeins
of afghan throws, those shawls of festive carnival strands,
gifts of stitch in a geometry of fingers from hook, draw, loop,
the needle twisting thread into blazes of zigzagging color.

Tell me again how when dark descended onto rooftops
and across windows of your company town those frigid nights,
how you slipped the hot water bottle between the quilt
and piles of throws to kill the chill. Tell me about the cold.

Wrap me in your yarns. Just please,
oh please, don’t ever stop talking.


* * * * *

"Tell Me Something" was first published in Bay Area Writing Project Digital Paper #14, Berkeley, CA.

More about Andrena Zawinski at https://andrenazawinski.wordpress.com.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

House in the Heartwood

by Andrena Zawinski

The house on Summerdale Street burnt down,
its fans of wallpaper flowers went up in smoke,
the creak in the first step––gone,
the veined glass pane,
the hum of the furnace kicking in,
the drip drip of the kitchen spigot,
the rattle of ghosts conjured
in its shadows,
the root cellar fragrant with herbs,
just like that––all gone,
up in smoke.

Inside my heart, another house constructs itself––
off the back porch, bleached white sheets balloon
on lines where wind
and everywhere it has been
remembers those sticky summers,
the soapy snap of wet
I wound myself in
to get cool and feel
nubs of breasts beginning
to harden there.

At Gualala, a coast and lifetime away––
inside a redwood den, a wildfire has hollowed out
and scarred a heartwood with dark.
Wrapped in its own cool shroud of moss
wet with fog passing through, nothing
rustles or moves but my feet upon the path
away from it. As a young girl,
I would have happily lost myself
inside its cave walls, taken for my own
this thing, this heart, a home
too large for anyone to hold.


* * * * *



"House in the Heartwood" was first published in Ariel XXI, 2003 (Triton College Salute to the Arts Award).

More about Andrena Zawinski at https://andrenazawinski.wordpress.com.

Friday, 6 October 2017

The thirteenth Moon Prize* goes to Alexis Rhone Fancher's poem "I Was Hovering Just Below the Hospital Ceiling, Contemplating My Death" —backdating to the full moon of September 6, 2017. This poem takes my breath away.


I Was Hovering Just Below the Hospital Ceiling,
Contemplating My Death

by Alexis Rhone Fancher


When I glanced down and saw my body,
the suffering, damaged girl.

My beloved, nowhere to be found
had died on impact.

Now the ER doctors say I can go either way.

So I hover on the Sistine ceiling of the
I.C.U., undecided, my dead lover's
hand reaching for me
like God stretched for Adam.

The tubes and machines that keep me
earthbound give way.

We soar past the hospital morgue,
backtrack the highway, our bodies
unbroken, the crash spliced out.

My mother keens beside my hospital bed,
her fingers tangled in my blood-soaked hair,
picking at pieces of windshield.
Holding tight.

Years later I re-trace the road
between death and Santa Barbara,
how he cradled my head in his lap as he drove.

How he didn't want to go with me.
How I always got what I wanted.

All my life, such a greedy girl.

- - - - -
When I was twenty, a highway collision killed my fiancé and my unborn child. I survived only because I was asleep, my head on my fiancé's lap, when the driver of the other vehicle veered into our lane and crashed into us at 70mph. I have tried for years to write about the immediate aftermath. This poem is the first time I got it right.


* * * * *

"I Was Hovering Just Below the Hospital Ceiling, Contemplating My Death" was first published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, http://www.glass-poetry.com/journal/2017/april/fancher-hovering.html

Alexis Rhone Fancher is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), and Enter Here (June, 2017). She is published in Best American Poetry, 2016, Rattle, Slipstream, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles, Hobart, Cleaver, and elsewhere. Her photos are published worldwide, including a spread in River Styx, and the covers of Witness, Heyday, and The Chiron Review. Since 2013 Alexis has been nominated for 11 Pushcart Prizes and 4 Best of the Net awards. She is Poetry Editor of Cultural Weekly, where she also publishes a monthly photo essay,"The Poet's Eye," about her on-going love affair with Los Angeles.


The Moon Prize ($91) is awarded once a month on the full moon for a story or poem posted in Writing In A Woman's Voice during the moon cycle period preceding a full moon. I don't want this to be competition. I simply want to share your voices. And then I want to pick one voice during a moon cycle for the prize. I fund this with 10% of my personal modest income. I wish I could pay for each and every poem or story, but I am not that rich. (Yet.) For a while I will run a few months behind with this prize—soon I expect to catch up to the current month.

Why 91? 91 is a mystical number for me. It is 7 times 13. 13 is my favorite number. (7 isn't half bad either.) There are 13 moons in a year. I call 13 my feminist number, reasoning that anything that was declared unlucky in a patriarchal world has to be mystically excellent. Then there are 4 times 91 days in a year (plus one day, or two days in leap years), so approximately 91 days each season. In some Mayan temples there are or were 91 steps on each of four sides. Anyway, that's where the number 91 comes from, not to mention that it's in the approximate neighborhood of 100.


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Today's Moon Prize, the twelfth Moon Prize,* goes to Nina Rubinstein Alonso's poem "Gender Veils: Moth Women"—backdating to the full moon of August 7, 2017. This poem has wings.


Gender Veils: Moth Women     

by Nina Rubinstein Alonso


1. Veils

First time Tangier           
women in black veils                                      
wrapped like moths at night 

wings stuck to our front door
chill November signals winter
or something else meaning unclear 

tubes of dark cloth with
women folded inside
walking fear

because our voices
vibrate high notes judged 
unconvincing meaning female

wrapped in satin shawls
lower the tone try to understand
pressure of gender generations  

no school no vote own no   
property even babies belong to ‘him’ 
father brother husband

holy books distort dogma
pulled down from infinite source
as if divine wears gender.


2. Ropes

Woman in a Persian garden
arms chained to a blooming tree

no dancing nymph
no swirl of drapery

she screams she cries            
who wouldn’t go mad 

wearing cuffs of gold or iron
caged prisoner wrists

can’t move
can’t try can’t attempt

let rules from ancient days
bend before my axe.


3.    Earth Woman Sky              
                                              
She draws moth wings
dark shapes                                             
luna six spot                        
burnet grey dagger

emperor gum
blotched emerald                  
silver vagabond                   
teardrop orchid

adders mouth
adam and eve                      
fairy slipper name after name
lifting moth woman 
             
bent over hair nailed to the ground
cut free will she stand       
are her legs strong enough                     
can earth wings fly?


4.  Noises of leaden prayer

In the brass heat of day
wrapped women
fear men
carrying weapons  
                                                                                                                                                                   
fear change                                                                                                                                          
I’m one spy of many                        
writing underground pages              
whispering under my veil   
                           
pouring light                
generations forward                
we’ll get shot at 
bleed explanations

before brutes  
hearts nailed tight
as it belief makes                 
violence holy

supposedly sacred
banners wave
fraud as truth 
lies insist

trying to shout us down
with noise of funerals
undulant thunder
of leaden prayer.


* * * * *

Nina R. Alonso's work has appeared in Ibbetson Street, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, U. Mass. Review, Sumac, WomenPoems, Constant Remembrance, Cambridge Artists Cooperative, Muddy River Poetry Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Black Poppy Review, BagelBards, etc. Her stories appeared in Southern Women's Review, Broadkill Review, Tears and Laughter, etc., and most recently in Peacock Literary Review. She works with Constellations a Journal of Poetry and Fiction.


The Moon Prize ($91) is awarded once a month on the full moon for a story or poem posted in Writing In A Woman's Voice during the moon cycle period preceding a full moon. I don't want this to be competition. I simply want to share your voices. And then I want to pick one voice during a moon cycle for the prize. I fund this with 10% of my personal modest income. I wish I could pay for each and every poem or story, but I am not that rich. (Yet.) For a while I will run a few months behind with this prize—eventually I expect to catch up to the current month.

Why 91? 91 is a mystical number for me. It is 7 times 13. 13 is my favorite number. (7 isn't half bad either.) There are 13 moons in a year. I call 13 my feminist number, reasoning that anything that was declared unlucky in a patriarchal world has to be mystically excellent. Then there are 4 times 91 days in a year (plus one day, or two days in leap years), so approximately 91 days each season. In some Mayan temples there are or were 91 steps on each of four sides. Anyway, that's where the number 91 comes from, not to mention that it's in the approximate neighborhood of 100.