Tuesday, 16 October 2018


A Feral Child
            ~ after Charles Simic

by Suzanne Allen


I was born the Thursday before Memorial Day.
This was no accident. Dr. Varga induced labor
so that it wouldn’t interrupt his weekend golf trip. 
I always remember that blood-soaked hour as
having been earlier than it actually was, but at least
the weather was mild and I would not be expected
to walk for nearly a year. After all, we had only just
walked on the moon, and a thirteen year-old named Genie
had spent the last twelve years locked in a bedroom
in a nearby town, strapped to a potty chair, staring
at a yellow raincoat. When discovered—as if
such a girl can, in fact, be discovered—she was all
bunny-walk and sniff, spit and claw. Meanwhile,

I ate well and my mother feared for my figure.
She made me clothes to match her own, and
her brother wrote once from Vietnam—too bad
it’s not a boy! Nixon promised to bring him home
by Christmas after lowering the legal voting age
to 18, but Genie would never be able to vote
and she would be abused for years by foster parents
and researchers. Even I was once harassed
by a dark-haired man in a silver car with red seats.
He was wearing tighty whities and looking
for his wiener dog—Do you know what a wiener
dog looks like? he asked me, and I ran. At about
that same time, Genie retreated into irreversible

silence, refused to open her mouth. “Latch-key kids”
is what they called us when our parents divorced
and our moms had to work and there was only
cold spaghetti to come home to in the afternoon.
She drove a paneled Pinto with jingling hubcaps
and an A.M. radio, sewed small bells into
my petticoats. I wanted to slip into that purple
bottle with Barbara Eden, blink my eyes and
give myself to vapor and sulk, sit cross-legged
in billowing, pink harem pants and wait—
For my dad to come in his shiny new Porsche and
drive me away from the other kids whose fathers
never came, the shy boy around the corner who didn’t
have anything to say.


* * * * *

Suzanne Allen holds an MFA in Poetry and is a coeditor for The Bastille, (of Spoken Word Paris.) Her poems have been published in print and online journals such as Cadence Collective, California Quarterly, Carnival, Cider Press Review, Crack the Spine, Hobo Camp Review, Nerve Cowboy, Pearl, San Pedro River Review, Spillway, Spot Lit, Tears in the Fence and Upstairs at Duroc. Anthology publications include Not a Muse,(Haven Books), The Heart of All that Is (Holy Cow Press), Strangers in Paris (Tightrope Books), Veils, Halos and Shackles (Kasva Press), and Villanelles (Knopf). She also creates videos of poets reading their work, which can be found on YouTube at Vlogosophy. Her first chapbook, verisimilitude, is available at CorruptPress.net, and her most recent chapbook, Little Threats, was published just this summer by Picture Show Press. “A Feral Child” comes from this collection.



Monday, 15 October 2018


Why I Didn’t Report Twenty-six Years Ago, Give or Take

by Suzanne Allen


Because I hadn’t fought. Because
I had only said no and no, and no, and
cried. Because I only twisted under him,
only tried to wrestle my wrists from his grasp.
Because I hadn’t screamed, or kicked.
Because I had only said no
and no, and cried. Because I didn’t want
to talk about it.

Because he was my grandma’s
hairdresser’s nephew. Because
he was an EMT. Because we had
been dating just a few weeks, and
I really liked his friends’
wives. Because I had said yes
before. Because he rode
a motorcycle, fast. Because
he had had more than one serious
crash. His broken nose.
The sometimes wild in his
not-so-clear blue eyes.

I didn’t report until now
because I hadn’t found the words.
I can’t remember the house,
not even where I was living
at the time. I don’t remember
if anyone else was there, or why
I didn’t want to, or if
I stayed the night anyway.
Maybe we had had a barbeque, or
maybe that was a different night.

It was a long time ago, but
believe me: it happened. At first
I tried to forget; now I just try
to imagine he was a good guy,
that he had enough sense to know
what he had done and not
do it again. I hope he didn’t
do it again. I hope he doesn’t…
But it did happen. Believe me.


* * * * *

Suzanne Allen holds an MFA in Poetry and is a coeditor for The Bastille, (of Spoken Word Paris.) Her poems have been published in print and online journals such as Cadence Collective, California Quarterly, Carnival, Cider Press Review, Crack the Spine, Hobo Camp Review, Nerve Cowboy, Pearl, San Pedro River Review, Spillway, Spot Lit, Tears in the Fence and Upstairs at Duroc. Anthology publications include Not a Muse,(Haven Books), The Heart of All that Is (Holy Cow Press), Strangers in Paris (Tightrope Books), Veils, Halos and Shackles (Kasva Press), and Villanelles (Knopf). She also creates videos of poets reading their work, which can be found on YouTube at Vlogosophy. Her first chapbook, verisimilitude, is available at CorruptPress.net, and her most recent chapbook, Little Threats, was published just this summer by Picture Show Press.

Sunday, 14 October 2018


GUILT

by Pat M. Kuras


She would ask me
if it was okay
to add brandy
to her ice cream.
Maple walnut,
in the little blue bowl,
part of the set
we bought in Chinatown.
Brandy as ice cream syrup.
Thirty years later,
she still won't
acknowledge her alcoholism.


* * * * *

Pat M Kuras has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She has
a new poem in the upcoming anthology, Dark Ink (Moon Tide Press). Her books, Hope: Newfound Clarity (2015) and Insomniac Bliss (2017) are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, 13 October 2018


Beyond the Rim

by Oonah V Joslin


Hats
were always worn in church

not out of modesty the pastor said
some ladies of the congregation adorned their heads

as a status symbol to show who had the greatest income
and to hell with the needy and those who sat behind craning to see

beyond the rim of this world,
to the next.


* * * * *

"Beyond the Rim" first appeared in The Shine Journal.

Oonah V Joslin is poetry editor at The Linnet’s Wings. She has won prizes for both poetry and micro-fiction. Her book Three Pounds of Cells ISBN: 13: 978-1535486491 is available online from Linnet’s Wings Press and you can see and hear Oonah read in this National Trust video. The first part of her novella A Genie in a Jam is serialised at Bewildering Stories, along with a large body of her work (see Bibliography). You can follow Oonah on Facebook or at Parallel Oonahverse https://oovj.wordpress.com/.


Friday, 12 October 2018


Liberation

by Oonah V Joslin


We did not anoint the Sun with its first fire
but we have damned and drowned the oceans with tears.

I would take silk to swaddle the horizon.
I would lift my voice to shroud the restless wind.

I will leave the future a libation of ink.
I will bless the undisciplined skies with wide eyes.

I will honour still the Earth with my eyes closed.
Sprinkle the sea and the mountain with my ash.

I must ordain the happy continuity
of life in order to accept forgetfulness.


* * * * *

Oonah V Joslin is poetry editor at The Linnet’s Wings. She has won prizes for both poetry and micro-fiction. Her book Three Pounds of Cells ISBN: 13: 978-1535486491 is available online from Linnet’s Wings Press and you can see and hear Oonah read in this National Trust video. The first part of her novella A Genie in a Jam is serialised at Bewildering Stories, along with a large body of her work (see Bibliography). You can follow Oonah on Facebook or at Parallel Oonahverse https://oovj.wordpress.com/.

Thursday, 11 October 2018


When A Woman Laughs

by Nalini Priyadarshni


There are hundreds of ways to silence a woman
stare her down if she happens to laugh out loud
in public space especially in the presence of men 
where she should be whispering at side lines
make your dismay quite apparent 
if it fails to mortify her
try growling under your breath in a threatening way
tell her in no uncertain terms that it is highly unfeminine
rebuke her for her unruly behaviour 
show your outrage by labelling her bad, wicked, vamp 
(Take your pick out of endless possibilities) 
ask her if she is unwell and needs a doctor
scoff at her in most derisive terms
cite scriptures, if possible, to put her down
failing that, mention decades old tele-serial to jeer at her
remind her how Ram and Laxman helped rishis and munis
clear forests with their mastery over bows and arrows
and how lucky she is that India has changed 
where laughing is now controlled by mere insults
quote your great grandmother prophesying
fall of the house where loud laughter of women resonates
take a handkerchief and stuff it in her mouth
encourage her to wrap herself in tiny bundle
that occupies no extra space, 
seen perhaps but not heard
better still, she should merge into furniture
or disappear into kitchen
never to be heard again
for nothing sends patriarchy scuttling 
under covers of propriety
faster than rambunctious peals of laughter
emanating from rubicund lips


* * * * *

Nalini Priyadarshni has been writing poetry and other stuff for almost a decade and has been published worldwide in literary magazines and journals. Her poems have been widely anthologized and collected in Doppelganger in My House and Lines Across Oceans, which she co-authored with the late D. Russel Micnhimer.  Her recent publications include Better Than Starbucks, Different Truths, Duane’s PoeTree, The Ugly Writers, Counter Currents and more. 


Wednesday, 10 October 2018


Girls Who Refuse to Die

by Nalini Priyadarshni


It’s not about those who get flushed out surreptitiously
as a scarlet blob between thighs 
Neither is it about those who are scraped out of wombs
With rusty tools of quacks in back alley 
Nor those who are buried alive 
Or abandoned on dumpsters to be eaten by wild dogs
It’s about those who make it into the world amidst 
middle class moral compunctions 
no less despised or resented 

Guilt is not only for evildoers
It’s also the gift of our collective consciousness to the girls
who turn a deaf ear to laments that follow their birth
and refuse to die.
It finds roots in the softest hearts and feeds on affection
for disgruntled progenitrix, unfair tutelage
sucking out the last dregs of self-love 
until they are housebroken to be good girls
for the rest of their lives

A good girl is the one who can never do enough 
or be enough to assuage the trauma she caused
by simply being born 
So she carries a thousand deaths beneath her tongue
and swallows one every time she has to choose
between being happy and being good
yet falls short every single time 

It’s not about those missing girls
who turned into statistics in census registers
It’s about those who lead invisible lives
persona non grata in homes they dare not call their own
stuck within the gilded frames of happy family portraits
entirely dispensable if the honour of the clan so demands
sacrificial lambs to pander to the fragile male egos 
of those who think they own them

It’s not about those voiceless victims of patrimony
who were throttled before they could utter a sound
It’s about those who are treated as trophies  
wrapped in silks, dripping with diamonds
They do just fine as long as they know
when to smile coyly and when to retreat into shadows
God forbid if they ever acquire
a mind of their own or sprout a tongue

It’s about those who break through the cracks of concrete
like daisies on a busy sidewalk and court whirlwinds
the girls who refuse to die

Some turn into fire-spitters even if it singes their own feathers

Some turn into rainbows keepers refusing to be confined
within drab walls of conventions

Some turn into ocean cuddlers, spreading their arms wide
to embrace their destiny and all those who share it

Some turn into sword swallowers, gutting the barbed jibes 
in the pit of their stomach

Some turn into fragrance detectors, sniffing out 
the sore hearts to heal them as they heal themselves

Some turn into fake family fishers, smiling and posing 
For gilded frames as their innards melt 
Some turn into pecan pickers, harvesting, shelling, husking
and ginning their lives to make some sense of it

Some turn into silver unicorns, chasing elusive 
cotton candy clouds into the twilight of life

Some turn into everyday goddesses, balancing domesticity
with dream catchers and hang on to the silver lining

They survive, somehow, the girls who refuse to die
to maintain the semblance of normalcy 
So that we continue to take pride in the heritage
that persecutes them 
systematically


* * * * *

Author's note: "I belong to Punjab, India where the sex ration is 847 women per 1000 men. But this poem is not about those missing girls. It is about those who survive and become part of the patriarchal set up."  

Nalini Priyadarshni has been writing poetry and other stuff for almost a decade and has been published worldwide in literary magazines and journals. Her poems have been widely anthologized and collected in Doppelganger in My House and Lines Across Oceans, which she co-authored with the late D. Russel Micnhimer.  Her recent publications include Better Than Starbucks, Different Truths, Duane’s PoeTree, The Ugly Writers, Counter Currents and more. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2018


I Am

by Christine Elizabeth Ray


I am
fragments of poetry
wisps of dreams
drifting musical notes
memories captured in amber
metal dragons
origami cranes
blood orange kisses
words of strength
etched in ink on skin

poet’s soul
woman’s heart
lover’s passion
witch’s spirit
shield maiden’s battle cry
pieces of me, all

I drink the moon
hear my own music in my veins
listen to all the women I am
who demand to be
made visible
made whole

who tell me that I am
done apologizing
done containing
my darkness
my fierceness
my light
to make others comfortable

I am
done whispering


* * * * *

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved


Christine Elizabeth Ray is an indie author and freelance editor who lives outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the creator of the blog Brave and Reckless and Managing Editor of The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective (Blood Into InkSudden DenouementSudden Denouement Publishing, & Whisper and the Roar) as well as Indie Blu(e) Her writing has been featured on SpillWords, fēlan poetry & visual zine, Nicholas Gagnier’s Swear to Me (2017), and his upcoming collection, All the Lonely People. Christine’s first book of poetry, Composition of a Woman, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishing in July of 2018. Her second book of poetry, The Myths of Girlhood, is scheduled for release later this year.

Monday, 8 October 2018


Adam’s Rib

by Christine Elizabeth Ray


Adam’s rib
aches beneath my breast
titanium splinter
piercing my soul
constantly seeking
to penetrate my self-worth
deliver shame directly
to my bloodstream like a toxin
demands I atone
for eating the forbidden fruit
I still taste the crisp
sweet tart taste
of knowledge on my tongue
and will always
hunger
for more


* * * * *

© 2018 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

Christine Elizabeth Ray is an indie author and freelance editor who lives outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the creator of the blog Brave and Reckless and Managing Editor of The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective (Blood Into InkSudden DenouementSudden Denouement Publishing, & Whisper and the Roar) as well as Indie Blu(e) Her writing has been featured on SpillWords, fēlan poetry & visual zine, Nicholas Gagnier’s Swear to Me (2017), and his upcoming collection, All the Lonely People. Christine’s first book of poetry, Composition of a Woman, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishing in July of 2018. Her second book of poetry, The Myths of Girlhood, is scheduled for release later this year.



Saturday, 6 October 2018


Dear Friends:

After posting 630 of your brilliant poems, stories, and essays, I am fresh out of new material to post, with just a few seasonal pieces lined up for a handful of future dates. 


Not to worry, posts of Writing In A Woman's Voice will resume as soon as I get new material.
Beate

So please send me more words that matter, written in a woman's voice, to writinginawomansvoice@gmail.com.

To inspire you and egg you on, here is a tantalizing syllabus of contemporary feminist writing that just came across my radar, A Master Class in Women's Rage by Kate Harding. But rage isn't our only voice, and not necessarily our best and most powerful one. There is also the shimmering importance of our beauty, our sweetness, and the dancing essence of our dreams. I hope to resume here soon.

I'll leave you with a quote from Kate Harding at the end of her syllabus: 

". . . get fired up and ready to fight. Or crawl under a blanket and cry, because the news is a lot right now. It's okay. The fight will still be there when you're ready. The fight will be there until we win."

Beate

Friday, 5 October 2018


Your Debit Card with Contactless

by Oonah V Joslin


There’s a graphic on the front that speaks technology,
a logo like interlocking blocks of ideology.
The purple background’s shiny, rich, which smacks of luxury
and inside the folds are pictures -- for the likes of me.

A bag and boxes represent a therapeutic shopping spree.
An aeroplane and clouds suggest you use this card on holiday.
A sturdy lock and key shows high levels of security.
My custom and safety mean so much to them – obviously.

Funny how ‘contactless’ can be one word, or two, or three;
less contact, con with tact, con tactlessly?
Having no money, it makes little difference to me anyway.
This is banking -- twenty first century.


* * * * *

Oonah V Joslin is poetry editor at The Linnet’s Wings. She has won prizes for both poetry and micro-fiction. Her book Three Pounds of Cells ISBN: 13: 978-1535486491 is available online from Linnet’s Wings Press and you can see and hear Oonah read in this National Trust video. The first part of her novella A Genie in a Jam is serialised at Bewildering Stories, along with a large body of her work (see Bibliography). You can follow Oonah on Facebook or at Parallel Oonahverse https://oovj.wordpress.com/.

Thursday, 4 October 2018


That Summer In Greece

by Susan Tepper


At the foot of Mount-something-or-other, while the rest of the tour group was checking out the historic ruins, I bought a rug.  A white squishy animal rug called Flokati.  My travel companion, Patti, had a few things to say: Now you’re going to drag that dead animal all over Greece.  Also reminding me that we still had Portugal on our itinerary.  I can remember sighing inwardly, thinking it was going to be a very long month.  Patti was the substitute.  We weren’t really compatible.  My roommate had punted last minute, and Patti just happened to be available.

The next day, with the rug squished under my arm, I hit the Plaka area to buy a box and ship the rug home.  I dragged around in the hot sun thinking that Patti was right, it would be miserable carting the rug from city to city, airport to airport. 

Finally, among all the food stalls and craft shops and souvenir stands, I happened upon a men’s clothing store.  I looked in the window.  It looked dignified.  I went in and right away was approached by a dark handsome man in a pristine suit, white shirt and tie.  I explained I needed to buy a box to ship the rug home.  He was extremely polite and had a nice smile.  Dug out a big box from beneath the counter and insisted on packing the rug himself.  He refused to accept the drachmas I extended.  Then said if I gave him the address he would be happy to ship it for me.

Wow!  I was pretty stunned.  People had been really nice to us in Greece— but this was extremely nice! 

After he was finished carefully packing my Flokati in layers of tissue paper, he asked if I would have dinner with him.  I felt a moment’s hesitation.  He was a bit older than my twenty years, but nothing too significant.  Around thirty, was my guess.  But then I could hear Patti’s voice saying I was prudish around men.  I didn’t feel I was prudish.  Then I thought: what the heck!  Explaining to him that I had a travel companion.  No problem.  He would bring along a friend.

Back at the hotel, surprisingly, Patti was less than overjoyed about this double-date. When the time came for them to meet us in the lobby, she told me to go down alone and check out the friend.  I thought she was being kind of picky since she wasn’t the most attractive woman on the planet and didn’t even have a boyfriend back home. 

Stepping out of the elevator, I saw the man from the shop and I waved.  He waved back, smiling, coming toward me from the front desk.  Then I noticed the friend walking beside him.  A man of about seventy!  I knew Patti would freak.  I shook hands with both men and then told them I would be right back.  I went around the bend to the house phones and called her.  She told me to forget it, she wasn’t coming.  She told me to go myself.  I thought a moment, and feeling suddenly un-prudish, and rather worldly, returned to them and made an excuse for Patti.  Said she had a terrible headache.  They didn’t seem to mind and we left the hotel. 

I assumed we would walk to one of the many lovely restaurants in the area.  But, no.  They had a car parked outside.  I got in the front seat next to the old guy.  The younger man sat in the back.  We headed out.  He said we were going to a very swank restaurant, that I would enjoy it very much.

While we drove, they wanted to know all about my American life.  Did I own a car?  Of course.  Did I travel frequently?  Yes.  Alone?   That made me laugh.  Did I live in my own flat?  Yes, but we call them apartments in the states, I told them.  Each new thing I revealed seemed to fill these men with wonder.

We drove a long time.  Out of Athens, to Piraeus.  Where the seafood was the best they told me.  Finally we arrived.  It was dark by then.  The restaurant, of granite and glass, perched on a cliff overlooking the sea.  Impressive.  I also took in the fact that there was nothing else around.  Just the restaurant, and a lot of open fields and of course the sea.

Right away we were ushered to a table.  The place was crowded.  Tablecloths of light pink linen, as were the napkins.  A band played contemporary American music.  Couples crowded the dance floor.  We ordered drinks.  I ordered a Coke.  They made a joke about that.  We read the menus and ordered dinner.  I chose shrimp cocktail and steak.  The younger man asked me to dance.  It was crowded on the dance floor.  The band was doing a Beatles ballad.  Right away he pulled me close.  Too close.  His arm like a vise on my back.  I tried to wiggle away but he held me in an iron grip.  I started sweating.  I felt scared. 

When the music stopped we returned to the table.  His smile gone.  He looked angry.  My shrimp cocktail had arrived while we were on the dance floor.  Rather than the red sauce I was used to, it came with a pink sauce that nauseated me.  I thought to myself:  How will I eat this awful pink sauce that I knew was made with mayonnaise.  A condiment I despised. 

I excused myself and went to the ladies room.  I felt panicked.  Thankfully there was a pay phone on the wall.  I dropped in a bunch of coins.  But we were so far out of Athens, when the operator came on she spoke no English.  I hung up feeling more panicked.  Then it hit me: the band!  They had been singing Beatles songs and other American tunes.

Leaving the ladies room, I snuck behind a partition wall in the band area and signaled to them.  A few of the band members came over to me.  “Please help me,” I said.  They spoke no English.  Not a word.  Only knew the songs in English.  I was really scared then.   It seemed there was nobody in the whole place who spoke English.  Who would help me?

On my way back to the table, I covertly approached a few other diners.  They were polite but didn’t understand English.  I went back to the table and suffered through the meal.  I asked the waiter for some water but he didn’t understand either.   A few more times the younger man pulled me onto the dance floor.  Doing his bump and grind.  I began to feel an extraordinary terror moving into me. 

Back at the car, when I tried getting in the front seat, the younger man pushed me into the rear, climbing in next to me, pushing his body hard against mine.  The old guy alone up front.  He turned on the radio.  Greek music at full volume. The younger guy pushing me down and throwing himself on top of me.

I fought him with all my strength and will.  He’d pinned me to the seat.  When I struggled up a moment, I could see the black ocean outside the car window.  All during this torture, the old guy up front drove singing along to the radio.

I wasn’t raped.  He could easily have raped me.  He violently kissed and groped me, tore at my clothes.  But didn’t rape me.  I’ll never to this day understand why.  He frightened me more than I’ve ever been frightened in my life, before or since.  This went on for a couple of hours.  The whole long drive back to Athens.  Straight back to my hotel. Where I sort of fell out of the car when the door was opened by hotel staff— me half dressed, with no shoes.  The doormen, who recognized me, looked stunned.  My knees wouldn’t function, I was incapable of walking.  I crawled, dragging myself up the marble steps to the brass doors.


All during that ride I can remember thinking: He’s going to rape me and kill me.  Throw my body into the sea.  And my mother will never know what became of me.  That was the part that filled me with the most sadness.  I cried over that.  My mother would never know what became of her daughter while vacationing in Greece.


* * * * *

"That Summer In Greece" was first published in Pure Slush.

More about Susan Tepper and her widely published work can be found at www.susantepper.com.