Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The seventeenth Moon Prize on this magical Blue Supermoon full moon goes to Nonnie Augustine's probing and illuminating poem "Arrogant Magnolia" —backdating to the full moon of January 1, 2018.


ARROGANT MAGNOLIA

by Nonnie Augustine


the first to open all, poised ten feet above our fuss.
As far as she's concerned … well, she's not, is she?
Her splendor cows me.
On this Tuesday morning I feel aged, dry, critical, although
I've used my potions.
Lousy sleep. Awake at 4 a.m., 5, 5:30. Sweaty.
And I feel short.
"Arrogant" comes to us via Old French from Latin— 'claiming for oneself',
from the verb arrogare.
Soon the fraying, browning, finishing. Disarray happens.
An old record plays. Mother and nuns scolding:
"No one likes a complainer."
"Wipe that look off."
"Jesus suffered."
My sweet dog's done her business and here is the poor bloom (soon to die) again.
The magnolia deflects my murky sensibility. Flowers, leaves, trunks, weeds, grass—
all of it—brushes me off. Of course.
Home and somewhat smoothed, despite the visit from my scolds,
despite the niggling moans from death.


* * * * *

"Arrogant Magnolia" first appeared in Olentangy Review and it is part of Nonnie Augustine's new book, To See Who's There


The Moon Prize

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 that full moon. On rare occasions, when funds permit, there will be a second Moon Prize on the day after the full moon. 

I don't intend for this to be a competition. I simply want to share your gorgeous voices. And then I will 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.)


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. 

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

My Father's Roses

by Laura Foley


I'm annoyed,
passing my father's roses
every day,
as I walk to work—
flagrant colors, clamoring
years past his death,
outside his old office
on York.
How I hated
how attentive
he was to them,
lacing their stems
with pesticides,
reciting the names
of every damn one,
clipping their skinny necks,
manicured fingers
tenderly placing each
in its own vase,
never minding their thorns.


* * * * *

"My Father's Roses" was first published in VPR: Valparaiso Poetry Review and reprinted in WTF (WordTech Poetry) (CW Books). 


Laura Foley is the author of six poetry collections, including, most recently, WTF and Night Ringing. Her poem “Gratitude List” won the Common Good Books poetry contest and was read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Her poem “Nine Ways of Looking at Light” won the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. A palliative care volunteer in hospitals, with an M.A. and a M. Phil. in English Lit. from Columbia University, she lives with her partner, and three big dogs among the hills of Vermont.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Intimate Love

by Lisa Fields


In the dream state afterglow of warm skin
my conscious mind snaps to
against closed eyelids, sudden and clear
brilliant blue sky,
a beauty memory formed yesterday 
I doze and hear
fans softly thrum, moving heated air
while wood pellets clink on their way to work,
creating from compressed cellulose a warm fire-lit room
furnace hums along, background drum line
the bed dog’s soft tenor sigh settles his form in a tighter curl
cold, dark December’s morning gifts


* * * * *


Lisa Fields is a contract agricultural journalist for Professor Quirine Ketterings, and occasionally others at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Raven’s New Words

by Lisa Fields


I do not know their language
My ear picks up gurgles, groks and caws
Perched on the tip of an electric pole
Above us, raven’s beak opens
and speaks an unfamiliar tone
Electronic, repetitive;
Rosa tilts her head back to see the source,
slim muzzle pointed skyward, ears perked
she wonders at this odd sound

Our shared creative expression,
my thoughts and feelings take form as written words on paper
Raven describes the sound he hears in
his song of the wire


* * * * *


Lisa Fields is a contract agricultural journalist for Professor Quirine Ketterings, and occasionally others at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Alchemy 

by Gail Thomas

There must be a hunger potion in this food,
says the child of my child as she eats
another plate of meatballs, a riff
on my Italian mother who charmed
my German father with a few peasant dishes
learned from her mother
who never finished school, but wearing
a sauce-stained apron spun out
pizzas dripping with mozzarella and salami,
savory rounds of locatelli-crusted bread,
and capeletti floating like lilies in broth.
No recipe in sight, my grandmother
kneaded and rolled out dough,
filled tiny pillows with meat, spinach,
and cheese, draped pale noodle strips over
the backs of chairs, while sauce bubbled
in a copper-bottomed cauldron for hours.

And though Mother vowed to be modern
with recipes clipped from ladies’ magazines
to test on her pinochle crowd, the old dishes
bewitched us. Redolent of garlic, onions, marjoram,
basil sweating in butter, the brew simmered
on Saturday as we stood in line for confession,
our reward served after Sunday Mass.

When grandmother went blind from diabetes,
my mother policed all sweets until years later
her mind was irreversibly tangled.
She forgot the salt, collected twist-ties,
peppered the kitchen with yellow Post-its
scrawled with jumbled letters.
Like an intoxicated lover she
craved sugar, jammed the freezer
with Rocky Road and Vanilla Fudge,
stashed Snickers in drawers.
Lunch and dinner meaningless, she
served chocolate and caramel elixirs
until she was lost.

I imagine her at this table, set
with the pink-flowered plates I claimed,
as great-grandchildren pronounce
the meatballs magical. And next to her
her mother’s flour-dusted hands
gesture a sign for forgiveness—
Mangiamo.


* * * * *

"Alchemy" is from the author's collection Odd Mercy.

Gail Thomas, http://www.gailthomaspoet.com/, has published four books of poetry, Odd Mercy (Headmistress Press, 2016), Waving Back (Turning Point, 2015), No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley (Haley’s, 2001) and Finding the Bear (Perugia Press, 1997).

Waving Back was named a Must Read for 2016 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book and Honorable Mention in the New England Book Festival.  Odd Mercy won the Charlotte Mew Prize of Headmistress Press and its “Little Mommy Sonnets” won Honorable Mention in the Tom Howard/ Margaret Prize for Traditional Verse.

Thomas’s work has appeared in many journals and anthologies including The Beloit Poetry Journal, Calyx, The North American Review, Hanging Loose,  and Valparaiso Poetry Review.  Individual poems have won national prizes and Thomas was awarded residencies at The McDowell Colony and Ucross.

Her book, No Simple Wilderness, about the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930’s has been taught in college writing and interdisciplinary courses. As one of the original teaching artists for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Elder Arts Initiative, Thomas led workshops and collaborated with dancers, musicians and storytellers in schools, nursing homes, hospitals and libraries across the state.

She speaks at conferences and poetry festivals, reads her work widely in community and academic settings, and lives in Northampton, MA. 

Friday, 26 January 2018

I Shed my Soul

by Nanette Rayman


I shed my soul down stage right,
my heart raised high, the audience applauds
in a frenzied surge fete. And they get the bare
soul ballet, the  battement petite beaten
to the hermetic cues to stay alive.

All I have left to do is to connect Cressida’s hurting
to my own with a velvet cord and open
myself breathless by the window-set mourn wood,
arduously attaching emotional muscle and my real face.

I am not Nina in The Seagull. I rather relate to Masha—

I am in mourning for my life. I find lost Psalms in the ornate
frontispieces. Aggrieved in the moment, my hair wild and free
in the radiance of stage lights reflected on the rosy pink curtains
and my eyes voracious for holy answers, my eyes

one more time pleading as Cressida in a rupture of fire by the window
pane—no one appeared to see. It vanished and appeared four times
the fire, one violin player struck a G-note below middle C.
It is not out of insolence that I ask for a better portion—
it is out of need. My need drapes my bones like
streamers of snow banks. My soul awakens in anxious adagio—
I’m grateful I am not homeless. I won’t wither and die
on the stage tonight. Theatre is a crash course in turning grateful.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

I Walk in Slow Motion Sunlight

by Nanette Rayman


I walked Madison and 42nd at 9:00
I walked Lexington and 42nd at 11:00
where conjunctivitis sunlight became a magnet
for my need to be the one thing
employers needed—I walked past magnificent
Grand Central Station, the snow a bouncing angora
eternal sweater. My one and only pair
of beautiful black boots their own magnet
for nascent splotches of salt stains.

I go on and on trying where other women
with jobs and Zara suits fill the tattered spaces
of this city that never sleeps, where I walk and walk
with all the hoodlums. On Avenue of the Americas I walk
near the banana stands and cheap dress shops, the snow’s
dissonance a blank etude across too many years.
It doesn’t stop, the desire to live, like ill sunlight, falling
through ticker tape news along 49th Street, falling
through spastic limbs, falling into construction’s blue
grating.  Falling out of over-qualified typing tests.

They have become their own aspiration, those jealous women
with the power to hire, compelling my asphyxiation.
I can no longer think this pounding is worth it—I could die
now alone—even that yearning has no tempo to speak of.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Don’t explain

by Grace Marie Grafton


She used red jello in the hospital dish
to look through. Sugar and
horses’ hooves, dissolved to stiff
clear then doused with chemical
red, provided a lens to illuminate
the meaning of the empty window
by her aging bed. She could hold
up squares between two fingers,
parts of her still worked.

Her lack of understanding about
human nature was generous.
Confusion over the mess created
a red gleam, kernelled in her brain.
At times, it germinated (especially
when night and sleep in the hospital
room wasn’t allowed to be night
and sleep) and saturated her body
with hot red weather.

This was the end (patience her long
last lesson). She did wish for
blue revelation but revelation
never constellated for her,
revolving as she did between
drinking glasses on the table
and the crest of the slope where
poppies (their intoxicating gold
brushes) exploded any conviction
her mind might settle on.


* * * * *

Grace Marie Grafton’s most recent book, Jester, was published by Hip Pocket Press. Six collections of her poetry have been published.  Her poems won first prize in the Soul Making contest (PEN women, San Francisco), in the annual Bellingham Review contest, and The National Women's Book Association, Honorable Mention from Anderbo and Sycamore Review, and have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Ms. Grafton has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, and has been awarded twelve CA Arts Council grants for her teaching programs. Recent poems appear in Sin Fronteras, The Cortland Review, Canary, CA Quarterly, Askew, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Basalt and Mezzo Cammin.



Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Work and Silence

by Grace Marie Grafton


She used to wash clothes in the yard.
“We put them in a huge
iron pot and built a fire
underneath and stirred them
with a stick.”
Sycamore leaves overhead
dried from the heat.

He hanged himself down by the river
on a branch. He was old
when he learned about his throat cancer.
Or was it of the nose?
Either stop eating or breathing.
Chose the warrior way out.

“He didn’t want
to bother us. It was right;
the children were so young
they took all my time.
Wouldn’t want them to see
their grandfather like that.”

Less and less
do I want to talk
unless like leaves new-green
rub against each other,
or the fins of fish
rudder through current.

Ravens have been in
the area. One perches on
the sawed-off valley oak,
mutters un-cawlike sounds.
Talking about its past?


* * * * *


Grace Marie Grafton’s most recent book, Jester, was published by Hip Pocket Press. Six collections of her poetry have been published.  Her poems won first prize in the Soul Making contest (PEN women, San Francisco), in the annual Bellingham Review contest, and The National Women's Book Association, Honorable Mention from Anderbo and Sycamore Review, and have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Ms. Grafton has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, and has been awarded twelve CA Arts Council grants for her teaching programs. Recent poems appear in Sin Fronteras, The Cortland Review, Canary, CA Quarterly, Askew, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Basalt and Mezzo Cammin.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Skating Backwards

by Jill Crainshaw


He just keeps skating on, thermal gloves flashing
purple and black against the marbled sky,
hostile to the numbing bone-chill in the air,
borrowed quicksilver blades biting the ice as
he skims arctic waters more treacherous
than he cares or is willing to let himself know,
tense muscles pushing hard to keep getting
there, and all the while over his shoulder,
a bejeweled willow bows low over ice scarred
by tangled tales he scratches out as he
forges ahead across the frosty expanse.
I walk on the glassy water in street shoes
and yearn for a fissure, a stumble,
a fall, a turning. Squinting down through
distorting wintry lenses, I think I see
the burnt orange shadow of a sunfish eager
for a splash of summer sun. But winter has not
yet finished her work. Then I hear giggles.
A red-mittened girl and her wind-blushed
mother. Face to face they make their
way with awkward delight across the lake,
holding hands and choreographing
a tenacious dance as first one and then
the other learns to skate backwards.


* * * * *

Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She enjoys exploring how words give voice to unexpected ideas, insights and visions.



Sunday, 21 January 2018

Covering the Moon

by Myra King


In the distance we hear a noise like tapping. I stop some feet short of the entrance to the graveyard, my brother Ben snuggled up on my back, his head buried in my parka hood.
“Look Ben,” I say, “it’s not the dead you have to be scared of.”
Our mother tells us this all the time. We live close to the cemetery, actually only a glance away through our front door. Not that we knew instinctively to be frightened, but our friends soon let us know that it wasn’t a normal thing. Aren’t you afraid the ghosts will get you? How can you sleep? Stuff like that. But it’s not the dead that do bad things. It’s the living. Like Dad, he left us soon after Ben was born. And Ben, well he was a rape baby. Everyone knows this, even Ben, although he doesn’t know what it means. And even though everyone always says, “Poor Mrs Anderson”, that’s our mother, I always think: Poor Ben. It’s a lot worse for him.

Yeah, the dead can’t hurt you, but that doesn’t stop us from being scared. 
We have done this: visit the graveyard at midnight on every Friday the 13th since Ben turned three. It was a dare set up by my friend Anica. After the first time she chickened out, but we kept it up like a tradition. This is our fourth year. I’m eleven now and Ben is seven but it’s a good thing he’s such a scrawny kid, he doesn’t weigh much. I guess the rapist must have been a small guy ‘cause our mother is nearly five foot eleven and built like a rugby player. Sometimes I wonder how he managed it. There’s this Australian spider called an Orb weaver. She’s so much bigger than her mate who shares her web that he has to be very careful when mating. I think maybe the rapist would’ve had to be careful with Mum. I’ve seen her temper and how hard she uses the strap, especially on Ben, when she’s been drinking.  But maybe the rapist had a knife or a gun. Mum’s never told me the details, and you can’t ask about things like that, can you? I mean I’m not supposed to know, but my cousin, Daniela, heard her mum, my aunty, telling a neighbour. Daniela told me and then Ben heard me telling Anica. But we all haven’t told Mum we know.

The tapping noise is getting louder. It sounds like someone with high heels but the paths are all gravel and sand so that can’t be right. I don’t know if it’s coming closer to us, or if we are moving closer to it. The dare is to reach the middle, where the little buildings are. The mini-mansions I call them. They glow sort of in the night but I can’t see that yet, we’re still a way away.

I jump at Ben’s voice, muffled by my parka. “I gotta pee, Sis. Now.”
I lower him down and he goes behind a bush, even though we can’t see anyone and the tapping is still ahead of us.
When he comes out he offers me his hand, which I take with outstretched fingers until I’m sure it’s dry. Then we both walk on in silence. The tapping noise seems to be coming from where we are heading. But I still can’t see the mini-mansions.
Ben pulls on my hand. “Sis,” he says, “what does a rape baby look like?”
My mind can’t find the words to answer him straight away. So he tugs at my hand again, almost pulling me sideways.
Up ahead is an angel statue, I’ve never seen her before, she’s sitting in the centre of a huge plot divided into four, two at the front and two at the back. She looks like she’s about to take off. For a moment I wish I could fly away too.
There’s an iron seat across the path from her. I lead Ben across to it and sit down. He brushes leaves off the seat. He really is a tidy kid, especially for a boy. I have no idea where we are. Which way is home.
I’m gathering my thoughts like someone rounding up sparrows. They keep scattering.
“Well Ben,” I say, “a rape baby isn’t the baby’s fault. It’s still a baby, like any other.”
I can feel Ben’s eyes on me, staring, and when a cloud passes and the moon and stars light up his face, I see he’s been crying.
“Oh, Ben, you’re not that scared are you?”
Ben shakes his head and looks at the angel. “It’s just that Jack said rape is a bad thing and that I was a bad thing, and that’s why Mum hates me. And I was wondering, Sis… Will I go to hell?”
I can’t answer him this time. The trouble is I don’t know exactly how rape works. I know Jack is right, it’s something bad and I know that it’s something to do with mating.  And also the girl doesn’t want it. But does that mean the roosters are raping the hens? I see that all the time, the hens running away and the roosters jumping on them and pushing them into the dust. The hens certainly don’t want it. The baby chickens are cute though.
Ben is sucking his thumb and leaning against me. Me and him against the odds.
I realise I can’t hear the tapping anymore and I wonder when it actually stopped, how I missed the moment. I look around, back the way we came, and at the way I think we should be going. I don’t know if I can find the strength to carry Ben much further.
The clouds are covering the moon again. I didn’t think it was possible to get lost in a place we are both so familiar with. But everything looks so different in the dark.


* * * * *

"Covering the Moon" was first published in Fast Forward Press (US). It is also part of Myra King's 2017 collection Uneasy Castles.


Myra King lives along the coast of South Australia with her writer husband, David, and their greyhound, Sparky. Her poems and short stories, some of which have won awards, have been published in the UK, USA, Ireland and Australia in many literary magazines, books and anthologies. Myra has another short story collection, City Paddock, and two YA novels: The Journey of Velvet Brown, and The Diaries of Velvet Brown, all published by Ginninderra Press, Adelaide, Australia. Her novel, Cyber Rules, was published by Certys UK.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Red Fox Rampant

by Myra King


Damien Rouge is having his fifteen minutes of fame posthumously.
Hanging up in a tree like a primate.
The TV cameras are discreet, showing only the aesthetically acceptable aftermath of the plane crash, the squeamish stomachs of the six o’clock set have to digest their dinners after all.
I recognise Damien immediately from his ponytail dreadlock and distinctive tattoo; a red fox rampant.
I remember that because I was the one who did it for him, thirty years ago.
Do the tat up high will you Marcie. I need to be able to cover it when I go for interviews.
Damien’s leg is cocked back, dog like, an angle denoting dislocation and fracture, held together by army pants, the type with reinforced utility pockets. Only God knows what they hold now.
I wonder if I should call my son. I wonder what I would say.
Hey Matt, your father, you know the one you’ve never seen? He’s on telly. Yes, now. On the news.
It gives a whole new meaning to a public viewing.
I decide not to. It is better he remembers his father from the faded photo he left me.  
Standing over a fresh kill, arm outstretched, fingers pointing to the lethal tusks of a huge boar. Mouth set in similar countenance.
Damien, the big game hunter.

Shit, Marcie, I thought you were taking something. I mean you did say you were on the pill. I don’t want no screaming brat. Get rid of it.

I had been taking contraceptives, but what did I know? I’d had too much to drink, thrown up one day and missed a dose. And I was seventeen and fertile as the plains.

Hey, Marcie, one of the guys at work said if you run for an hour and then have a hot bath that will bring on your period.

I trusted him. He was twenty-seven years old and knew the world.
But nothing happened. My period was as stopped as its namesake.

I told Matt about his father the day he turned ten, not long after he learned about the facts of life. I figured he would understand it better then. Understand that the dad he’d known for the last eight years of his life was not his biological one.
All it did was to add fuel to fire, over the recent divorce.
Really, nothing I could do back then was right.
As the years passed he grew curious. Matt began to search, I began to search, his grandmother, who lives in the same city where I’d last seen his father, began to search.
We came up with names and addresses. But nothing matched. 
Damien Rouge was as unlisted as his phone number.

Kids should be put in a sound proof room and hosed down once a week. And not taken out until they are fifteen and more interesting.
I laughed when Damien said this. It was pre-pregnancy and seemed funny.
I realise now how much he hadn’t wanted kids. He was far too busy being one.

The plane crash has happened in France, the voice over sounds so nice, dulcet tones of French with lines of hysteria. You know, the sort the media manufacture. It sounds the same in every language.
The subtitles declare it the worst aviation disaster in twenty years. No survivors.

I remember the old joke: If a plane crashes on a hill and one part falls to the North and the other part to the South, where do they bury the survivors?
They don’t of course, I answer myself, bury the survivors.
But I have been buried for years.
   
The camera pans back to Damien. His seat from the plane is still partly wedged in the fork of a tree, an oak I think: Quercus Robur.
His seat belt has worked, he is still strapped in.
He swings around and I am treated to a brief glimpse of his face, eyes squeezed shut as if peering into a letter box or just waking up. A brief mockery from the afterlife.
 Look Marcie, you have found me but I still ain’t going to acknowledge your bastard son.
 His face reminds me of the death mask photo of Manfred Von Richthoven - the Red Baron. But this is no tri-plane.   
Pieces of the aircraft are scattered widely over a landscape littered with clothes and body parts. I notice a water bottle and marvel at its completeness. It is still holding water.

Damien hated flying. I love it.
I remember the first time I went up about ten years ago.
Smiling like a child I gripped the hand rests and let the G forces push me down further into the seat as the plane jetted along the runway, faster and faster until we were airborne.
I wonder how I will find flying now.
  
I’d met Damien just before my seventeenth birthday, at the place where I worked, Body Artz.
Over six foot four, he stooped slightly to fit through the door. His presence filled the shop.
I had just finishing piercing some kid’s ears and was telling the mother about the aftercare.
He waited until I was finished.
“Hi… Look… Marcie,” he said, placing my nametag straight. “I’m after having a tattoo done.”
He opened the portfolio he was carrying and unclipped a drawing. It was a picture of a red fox rearing. I didn’t think it a probable pose. But the customer is always right. 
And this one was brave. He didn’t even wince as I dipped and pricked.
But sweat beaded like thaw and his voice was tight when he spoke.
“I didn’t want none of that catalogue stuff. Bloody skulls entwined with snakes and I love mother. Bugger that. I got this friend who draws. I always wanted to have a fox done ona-cow-to-me-name.”
I remember thinking he’d not seen what was available lately. But I was so mesmerised that I only managed to squeak “why, on account of your name?”
“My last name is Rouge. That’s French for Red.” He moved in his seat, shuffling up his large frame to match his importance.
It was lucky I was not injecting, I would have blurred something.
“And I play rugby. They call me the fox, cause of me moves.” A wink gave affirmation that rugby wasn’t the only game he was talking about.
When I finished I wiped the bloody surface with some gauze. I wasn’t wearing gloves. There was no such thing as Aids in the seventies.
He took my hand before I could drop the swab and I felt his fingers rubbing above my knuckle, acknowledging the bareness of my ring finger.
“So how about it, Mar-cie?”  The way he drawls it out makes it merci. The only French I know apart from oui. Which is what I say.
What?” he says, raising slivers of doubt. But youth and naivety win. And I answer yes to his please.

The news clip is going on and on. Now it’s live – adding to the surrealism. Here I sit in my kitchen, watching my first lover, the father of my only child, the man whom I have not seen for over thirty years. Live. Except he is dead. 
The paradox screams silent from the word beamed across the screen ad-infinitum.

I remember our first date - the beach at night, sand hills draped in silent purple, with Imagine playing on the radio.
I squeeze Damien’s hand along with the words “…and no religion too.”
“That’s what I reckon, Marce. Religion is for bloody idiots! Opium of the masses.”
Isn’t it opiate? But I’m not sure.
Damien is never unsure. He has travelled abroad. And had amazing adventures.  I sit entranced in the same way I listen when my dad recounts his escapades from World War Two. It is the only time my father gives me any attention. Attention that is positive. Now Damien fills the gap.
Osmosis like, his truth becomes my own until it is ‘Opium’ and how could I have been so stupid.

I ain’t paying for no fucken kid I don’t fucken want! You can’t prove it’s mine. If you keep it Marcie, you’re on your own.

I am screaming and thumping the steel cabinet beside my hospital bed in time with the contractions. A nurse goes past then snatches back a step. She stands in the doorway and tells me to grow up. Childbirth is natural.
 I think of that first night, of religion and opium and suddenly wish for both.

The only thing Damien didn’t lie about is the fact he was French. He was born there. His father signed the birth certificate before he did a runner. One trait Damien had inherited.
His mother had skittered back to Australia, a reformed repatriate. 
Finally the news is over. I switch off the TV and sit staring; the blankness of the screen reflects my mind.
Everything seems back to normal but nothing will be the same.
A brief knock to herald his appearance and my son enters the room. His cheery hello tells me he hasn’t seen the news. I sit with the secret behind my eyes merging with his handsome face. Matt is so like his father. But in appearance only. And soon he will look nothing like him. I shiver despite the summer evening.
“Someone walked over your grave, Mum?’ he says, unaware of how close he has stepped to the truth.
I smile and shake my head, a brief half turn. I hear his footsteps in the sitting room and a cork popped from a bottle.
“Want a drink? Sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve called. But I’ve got some good news. Something to celebrate.”
Matt’s voice quavers slightly but I doubt that his news will counterbalance mine.
He comes back to the kitchen and hands me a glass. We clink the silence from the room.
“I’ve found my father,” he says, and continues without halting from my shock.       “Remember that phone call Gran made when the woman sounded funny and hung up on her? Well, it turns out she was his wife. They were divorced last month and it was her way to get even. Giving me her husband’s number.”
My son gets up and hugs me, “It’s okay, Mum, he didn’t mind. I met him over the weekend. I was lucky. He is travelling to France today. He said he wanted to be back in the place he was born, wanted to die there. I told him I only wanted to meet him, nothing else, no strings.” I see the stamp of completeness in his eyes.
I hold up my glass. “To Damien and Matt.”  
There is nothing left to say. They both already have their wish.


* * * * *

"Red Fox Rampant" was first published by Little Episodes Publishing (Florida US). It is also part of Myra King's 2017 collection Uneasy Castles.

Myra King lives along the coast of South Australia with her writer husband, David, and their greyhound, Sparky. Her poems and short stories, some of which have won awards, have been published in the UK, USA, Ireland and Australia in many literary magazines, books and anthologies. Myra has another short story collection, City Paddock, and two YA novels: The Journey of Velvet Brown, and The Diaries of Velvet Brown, all published by Ginninderra Press, Adelaide, Australia. Her novel, Cyber Rules, was published by Certys UK.


Friday, 19 January 2018

Trumpet Dirge for Fathers

by Julene Tripp Weaver


1.
There are so many of them—
like the sperm they produce
Yet, never enough
in our lives.

Where art thou, oh father of mine?

All fine fathers of sound 
trumpeting—multitudes sailed
off to sea, lost in the wild winds
of a mother ocean—that mighty
womb they could not control.

The dead fathers lost to us
worthy of high grief—
the under-songs we sing
longing for the half
we cannot know.

Sperm penetrates the egg. 
But, the aggressor might well be 
the womb, lying-in-wait like a
carnivorous plant
its sticky sweet cologne.

2.
The peacock with his
turquoise speckled plume
rising iridescent—

such beauty his legacy
of survival.

Male outsiders walk alone
adorn the grounds—
entice the eye.

Such novelty wears off
when his excrement
litters the pool.

And he disturbs your quiet time 
with piercing squawks 
calling for a mate.

3.
Fathers stand outsiders—
removed from the goddess clan
they steal women
from their family home, 
to make their own.

When our ally, mother ocean, 
steals:
a father,
a lover,
a son,
we mourn such loss 
as we long 
for them to mourn for us.


* * * * *


Julene Tripp Weaver is a psychotherapist in Seattle; she worked in AIDS services for over 21 years. She has three poetry books, Truth Be Bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS (Finishing Line Press, 2017), No Father Can Save Her (Plain View Press, 2011), and Case Walking: An AIDS Case Manager Wails Her Blues (Finishing Line Press, 2007). She is widely published in journals and anthologies. Her poems can be found online at: Anti-Heroin ChicRiverbabbleRiver & South Review, The Seattle Review of Books, HIV Here & Now; a creative nonfiction piece is published by Yellow Chair Press, In The Words of Women International 2016 Anthology. Find more of her writing at www.julenetrippweaver.com.