Wednesday, 16 May 2018


"What was better: bombs or developers?" from today's story: "Elegy for a Planet" by J.A. Pak. With today's story, Writing In A Woman's Voice will be on break until May 23, 2018. Happy days to all. 


Elegy for a Planet

by J.A. Pak


The planet was thick with ice. Milky white. Like the fairy tales she’d once loved, ice queens ruling over white sugar kingdoms—her kingdom was below.

She’d been watching the small planet rotate for days, her yacht its only moon. Why did she fight so hard to reclaim it? She had no idea. Ten years of maneuvering through petty government bureaucracy for the deeds to a solid snow globe. It wasn’t the principle—that was the story her press agent had sold to rally public support. Not that there wasn’t injustice. There was a human-shitload of injustice. And it was galling how the government still (after over two hundred years) refused to admit it had stolen the planet right from under her family.

Her family begins with matriarch Karali Bai. That is, the myth of her family begins with Karali Bai. Obsessive, single-minded Karali Bai. Karali Bai who needed a crazy dream to make her life feel real. Perhaps that wasn’t fair, she thought. Who knew why she needed a crazy dream. The crazy dream that was now a funny little nursery rhyme, although, these days, few knew who Karali Bai was or what the rhyme was all about.

Karali Bai’s dream had been to recreate the Origin Planet. As exactly as was humanly possible. (Well, that was the original madness. How do you recreate a planet that’s now myth’s exhalation?) Karali Bai’s first step was to find the right-sized planet. Which she finally did, hidden inside a neglected part of the galaxy. The planet was poor in resources, the atmosphere so thin, it was mostly passing whim. Karali Bai registered her claim, named the planet and spent the rest of her life terraforming it.

Her daughter continued the work. While the planet churned and percolated, she traveled the galaxy, combing every DNA museum and research center for authentic flora and fauna. She’d have to choose wisely. The only instructions her mother had left was “no Homo sapiens.”  Homo sapiens had been the Origin Planet’s plague. Even the family was forbidden, living on a space station far above, affectionately nicknamed the Ark.

She wondered: was the planet Karali Bai’s offering? Atonement? And why would Karali Bai think she was the Homo sapiens to make such an astonishing gesture? Narcissist? What was it that she was really making an atonement for?

It took three more generations to turn the resource-poor planet into a beautiful swirl of blue and white. Nature was taking root and the planet was happy.

A beautiful scientifically-engineered gem always attracts attention. Karali Bai’s planet was declared the most stunning planet ever terraformed. Every travel site listed it as the destination of the century (the fairytale rain forests, pristine oceans untouched by man, savannahs on which mythical creatures roam, a once-in-a lifetime experience not to be missed). Cruise ships clogged the orbit, their passengers livid because they were refused entry. Developers demanded rights. Her family refused again and again, and this led to the inevitable: eminent domain. ‘Each and every successfully terraformed planet is precious and necessary for the well-being of the human species.’

Resource-poor planet. It was greedy the way we categorize planets, she thought. Greedy the way we see each other. How we plunder another human being’s dream for something as superficial as a two-day vacation. Was she down there? Karali Bai? Was she haunting the planet? Was her soul the lingering milk of ice? Did the Karali Bais lure her here, thinking she would understand? Was there something expected of her?

Each successor of the planet took the name Karali Bai. Re-dedication. Re-birth. The last Karali Bai planted three bombs and destroyed the planet. Herself too, the Ark diving into the boiling blaze. The many-generations of research and technology exploded all over the atmosphere. It must have been a spectacular funeral pyre, she thought.

The last Karali Bai was convicted of ecological murder. Tried in absentia because of the collective, hypocritical outrage. There were many instances of women living in extreme conditions, whether social or environmental or economic, who killed themselves and their children to escape suffering. After all, why would a mother want to abandon her children? The defense pleaded insanity. Legal discourse was no place to understand re-birth. And a show trial needed easy lessons, easy condemnation. Show trials were release valves, she thought, a way to place collective guilt onto one poor defenseless woman. The prosecution even resurrected the original Karali Bai as witness against her. Shameless.

Was it so strange, she wondered, what Karali Bai had done? Did it matter whether a planet died in a couple of days or a couple of millennia? What was better: bombs or developers? The quick death or the agonizingly slow? Wasn’t love a better reason for death than corporate profit? And if Karali Bai had been insane, surely she was driven to it by the thought of the never-ending invasion of silly tourists and their insatiable need for souvenirs. The planet would have been picked dry in less than a decade. Homo sapiens were scavengers by nature. Shortsighted, efficient scavengers.

She sighed, the sigh booming through the yacht and alarming the staff. If the Karali Bais thought she would be their successor, they would soon be bitterly disappointed. She’d been a Mistport Minnie her entire life, her singular talent buying and promoting retail fantasies. Terraforming planets was beyond her meager talents. And her ambition. The best she could do, realistically, was establish a small estate on the ice surface—the luxury-end bio domes were amazing these days. But that would eat into her entire fortune (bio domes were notorious money pits). Her younger self would not have hesitated. But now: she would turn ninety this year, entering the first stage of middle age; it’s in middle age that the future becomes concrete, burdensome, constricting, shaming.

Unless you were Karali Bai.

What would she find if she were to thaw the planet? What was hidden in those milky layers? In her? How could you be so fearless, Karali Bai?

For now she would remain inside her yacht, the orbit home, for home was something she’d lost long ago and this was as close to a homecoming as she would ever find—

And then she laughed. 

Karali Bai, Karali Bai,
What planets do you grow?
Karali Bai, Karali Bai,
What madness do you sow?
Take a planet and make it glow,
Light some bombs and make it blow.
Karali Bai, Karali Bai,
What madness do you grow?


* * * * *



"Elegy For A Planet" was first published in The Fem Lit.

A recipient of a Glass Woman Prize, J.A. Pak’s writing has been published in a variety of publications, including 7x7, Unbroken Journal, Joyland, Queen Mob’s Tearoom, Luna Luna, etc.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


dog tags

by Eileen Murphy

there was the grave
my sis and i had to dig in the yard
& then i had to find music
that didn’t make me cry
so hard i caused an accident on my drive to work

the sharp June sunlight sniggered
as dog tags jingled
my curly hair turned straight
in-between hair fell out

with a pure sleep
& courteous waves
a hundred comrade dogs paddled my dog
to the mother-ship–
the water
the warmth
the left/right, left/right of it all


* * * * *

A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy now lives 30 miles from Tampa. She received her Masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature and English at Polk State College in Lakeland and has recently published poetry in Thirteen Myna Birds, Tinderbox (nominated for Pushcart Prize), Yes Poetry, The American Journal of PoetryRogue AgentDeaf Poets Society, and other journals. Her website is mishmurphy.com.

Monday, 14 May 2018


she came in through the bathroom window (remix)

by Eileen Murphy


slip-sliding over the sill
like a seal

wearing her lime & lemon
housedress

my grandma waddles up to me
as i’m drinking day-old coffee
working on the computer

leaving a wet glistening trail
behind her
on the hardwood floor

she clasps me close

damp & smelling
like the sea
till I relax & hold her
round the waist

till I know I’m hugging
the same old woman
i loved who died

now she’s in the kitchen
fixing salads for our supper

though she never eats
a single bite


* * * * *

A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy now lives 30 miles from Tampa. She received her Masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature and English at Polk State College in Lakeland and has recently published poetry in Thirteen Myna Birds, Tinderbox (nominated for Pushcart Prize), Yes Poetry, The American Journal of PoetryRogue AgentDeaf Poets Society, and other journals. Her website is mishmurphy.com.



Sunday, 13 May 2018


duets

by Isabel del Rio


new Moon,
comes too soon

waxing crescent,
not truly present

first quarter,
bricks and mortar

waxing gibbous,
one more quiver

full Moon,
a bright lagoon

waning gibbous,
of this rid us

last quarter,
getting shorter

waning crescent,
evanescent


* * * * *

"duets" is from Isabel del Rio's poetry collection The Moon at the End of my Street (published by Friends of Alice Publishing, 2016)

Isabel del Rio is a bilingual poet and writer living in London.  She has published fiction and poetry in both English and Spanish, and has worked extensively as a linguist and journalist.  Her writing has also appeared in anthologies and online magazines.  Her most recent published work of fiction is Zero Negative, a collection of short stories on the subject of bloodshed, and her latest poetry book is The moon at the end of my street.  Her forthcoming works are two collections of short stories and a novel.  She regularly takes part in readings and performance poetry events. Website:  www.isabeldelrio.com

Saturday, 12 May 2018



seas

by Isabel del Rio


who would not want to live in the Moon
when it has
so many seas,
made from our very own dust and with
names that I can only
dream of:

the sea of nectar
sea of serenity
sea of foam
sea of vapours
sea of fecundity and sea of cleverness
sea of moisture
sea of humour
sea of clouds
even a lake of sleep

and only upon the sea of tranquility did Apollo astronauts walk


* * * * *

"four hundred times" is from Isabel del Rio's poetry collection The Moon at the End of my Street (published by Friends of Alice Publishing, 2016)

Isabel del Rio is a bilingual poet and writer living in London.  She has published fiction and poetry in both English and Spanish, and has worked extensively as a linguist and journalist.  Her writing has also appeared in anthologies and online magazines.  Her most recent published work of fiction is Zero Negative, a collection of short stories on the subject of bloodshed, and her latest poetry book is The moon at the end of my street.  Her forthcoming works are two collections of short stories and a novel.  She regularly takes part in readings and performance poetry events. Website:  www.isabeldelrio.com

Friday, 11 May 2018


BACK-BURNER LADIES               

by Lynea Search


Hello darlin’, I’m just callin’
Callin’ you to set things straight
Well you’ve been on the run
I hear you found someone
And this time the lady won’t wait
I hope you’ll understand
You’re such a special man
I know your other women would agree
But I can’t take any more
Of what you’ve got in store 
Baby, I’m tired of being . . . (one of your)

Back-burner ladies
Simmerin’ in your maybes
Givin’ you time
To make up your mind
While you were only playin’ a game
Stove-top stand-in
Love-burned mannequin
Now I’m ready for a lover
Who will give me
A front-burner flame

Hey now baby, I don’t think you see
Now I’m wise to your ways
And though you say you care
I just don’t think it’s fair
And someday honey you’ll have to pay
So now I’ll say goodbye
And I’ll try not to cry
While you’re out lovin’ somebody new
And if she says I do
Hope she’s enough for you
‘Cause I’m no longer
Spending my days (as one of your)

Back-burner ladies
Simmerin’ in your maybes
Givin’ you time
To make up your mind
While you were only playin’ a game
Stove-top stand-in
Love-burned mannequin
Now I’m ready for a lover
Who will give me
A front-burner flame
I said I’m ready for a lover
Who will give me
A front-burner flame


* * * * *

© Lynea Search

Thursday, 10 May 2018


Girl Upon a Time

by Leonore Hildebrandt


Sky is a woven rug, a measured opening––
a “window,” from wind eye.
Hinges are smooth as ligaments,
and her fingers leave oily prints.

You may wear this tale
like a hat, a wondrous little hat
from the pelt of a mouse.

A canopy of swallows. The river’s steep banks.
The girl runs with the boys, then hides
in sprawling hedges––beech and rhododendron.

She knows a place to slip into––
lower the bridge, walk the sheep and fox,
cows and knights in procession to the fields.
The moat deepens. Look, poor Rapunzel’s
long braids uncoil from the sill.

The girl is looking under leaves
for mice and spiders.
She rips her sandwich for the dogs,
calls them her strays.

On a narrow sidewalk,
a little hairy man blocks her way
with his scales and knives.
She tries to run, sand sucks at her feet,
she stumbles, falls into the air's updraft––
her dress spreads like a sheet.
A girl is a cloud of dust.

In the yard, metal posts are sunk into holes.
On rainy days, they fill with water and bugs.
She hears of storm petrels, lit as lamps––
oily flames mounted on sticks, a wick shoved down the throat.
Things one cannot pronounce another way.

Clamor in the street––voracious brooms
suck in leaves and garbage.
The many worlds are falling––the seven brothers,
three sisters. She hides, counts her fingers.
This is the dry tongue of utterance.
                                                                                   
But the second son still goes out into the world
to learn about fear. At night,
bronzed in smoke, the seven ravens return.
The girl slips through a fence.
She is falling toward the upon-time,
against the luminous wind eye.
Her dress is woven into the sky.

In the sallow wax of morning, street lamps are bright nebulae.
The window’s stern eyes relent to swirls and river snails.

Worms bore holes,
scattered in the wooden frame.
She blows the dust, pulls up her hair.



* * * * *

"Girl Upon a Time" was first published in SWWIM, 23 October 2017 and is part of Leonore Hildebrandt's new collection Where You Happen to Be, (Deerbrook Editions, 2018)

Leonore Hildebrandt, https://leonorehildebrandt.com/, is the author of The Work at Hand, The Next Unknown, and Where You Happen to Be. Her poems and translations have appeared in The Cafe Review, Cerise Press, Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, Harpur Palate, Poetry Daily, Poetry Salzburg Review, and the Sugar House Review, among other journals. Winner of the 2013 Gemini Poetry Contest, she received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission. She was nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Germany, Leonore lives “off the grid” in Harrington, Maine, and spends the winter near Silver City. She teaches writing at the University of Maine and serves on the editorial board of Beloit Poetry Journal.


Wednesday, 9 May 2018


Rock Me

by Leonore Hildebrandt


I have always done things the hard way––
cutting through razor wire, sitting in protest
until the cops yanked us by the hair.

After turning down the millionaire,
I boiled the baby’s diapers on the wood stove––
but in summer I danced into the pale light of morning.

There were men, there were women––
mostly I lived more fiercely than that,
my head full of road-songs, the secret of seeds,

Masters of War. Once I climbed an oak tree
I had planted thirty years before. The leaves,
like orange hands, pulled me high and higher.

When I went fasting in the woods,
the hours would open their mouths wider,
the verge of the pond carried on endlessly.

I know of padded cells and stifling nightmares.
But age is ageless. So rock me––like glass,
we are sharp, molten, shattered, redone. 

It’s like the death penalty––
once you have handed it down,
then do it, already. Don’t let it drag on.


* * * * *

"Rock Me" was first published in Gemini Magazine (First Prize in Open Contest) April 2013 and is part of Leonore Hildebrandt's new collection Where You Happen to Be (Deerbrook Editions, 2018)

Leonore Hildebrandt, https://leonorehildebrandt.com/, is the author of The Work at Hand,The Next Unknown, and Where You Happen to Be. Her poems and translations have appeared in The Cafe Review, Cerise Press, Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, Harpur Palate, Poetry Daily, Poetry Salzburg Review, and the Sugar House Review, among other journals. Winner of the 2013 Gemini Poetry Contest, she received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission. She was nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Germany, Leonore lives “off the grid” in Harrington, Maine, and spends the winter near Silver City. She teaches writing at the University of Maine and serves on the editorial board of Beloit Poetry Journal.



Tuesday, 8 May 2018


VA Waiting Room

by Judith Michaels Safford


(Messy Love, Messy World)
The Floor
11am
Building 57
Sitting in a crowed Veterans waiting room in Tucson with my husband,
looking at the floor
thinking of messy love, messy world,
I ask.
Floor, what doest thou say to me?
Many veterans' feet
heavy shoes and light
scuffle their lives upon me,
memories of war
spill on this floor
wheel chairs,
legs of steel, no legs at all,
cry and fall heavy.
Mopping, buffing cannot wash away
this messy world of you.
You, who have suffered.
You, who have killed.
You, whose blood has spilled.
All because the government
thought you ought
to be taught of loyalty and gallantry.
Shame on us, who hate
the other brother, and yet
none are free from being frightened
little ones still playing
‘cowboys and injuns.’
I feel the weight, the pain,
the sluggish gate.
I hear the memorized
“Thank you for serving our country,”
echoing down the halls.

12:30 in another crowded waiting room
Building 80
I ask the door.
What say thou?
They come and go.
They laugh and cry.
They live and die.
I stay steel and tall
opening and closing.


* * * * *

In 2006, Judith Michaels Safford discovered a radio program on writing poetry. She followed the prompts and mustered up the courage to press the send button. She was invited to read and a door was open that had not previously existed. She finds that her emotions express more easily through poetry. Judith self-published her memoir in 2009. Don’t Sell Your Soul, Memoir of a Guru Junkie. Encouraged by a published poet-friend, she embarked on self-publishing a book of prayer poems. Joyful Surrender, A pilgrimage. Judith continues to practice a 23-year career as a licensed massage therapist. Today her home is Glenwood, New Mexico, where artists of many kind reside. Touching others with hands and poems brings a tremendous satisfaction of purpose to her life.

Monday, 7 May 2018


Who are you in my dream?

by Judith Michaels Safford


Who are you in my dream?
I am the raven of your night
who snatches every broken heart you toss.
The one who stashes them tight in
your nightstand drawer,
the wounded hearts from childhood pain,
your broken heart from youth’s self-disdain,
and the hearts you’ve brushed aside like bread crumbs
when you thought you’d had enough and, yet, dissatisfied.
They sleep not, but lie in wait at the gate of each dream.
“Can you see me now?” They cry.
My wings spread wide as your protection
until your eyes feel safe to open.
And, even then,
I carry you.



* * * * *

In 2006, Judith Michaels Safford discovered a radio program on writing poetry. She followed the prompts and mustered up the courage to press the send button. She was invited to read and a door was open that had not previously existed. She finds that her emotions express more easily through poetry. Judith self-published her memoir in 2009. Don’t Sell Your Soul, Memoir of a Guru Junkie. Encouraged by a published poet-friend, she embarked on self-publishing a book of prayer poems. Joyful Surrender, A pilgrimage. Judith continues to practice a 23-year career as a licensed massage therapist. Today her home is Glenwood, New Mexico, where artists of many kind reside. Touching others with hands and poems brings a tremendous satisfaction of purpose to her life.


Sunday, 6 May 2018


Chromosomes: Y-axis, solving for x

by Betsy Mars


Another night like the one you left
hanging, silenced. 
Another midnight chorus of why why why
shallows my breath, 
resounds in my brain -
beating, beaten.

The dangling ex ex ex, uncrossed: 
for wives, for chromosomes,
for kisses
shared or not -

a knot around your neck,
a not for your future, a not for your son
a knot in my throat, a not for any answers, 
X'd out. Suspended
with no hope 
to know your whys ways. 


* * * * *

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

Saturday, 5 May 2018


Sub Rosa

by Betsy Mars


What’s in a name? A tale of many things
past and present.
As it happens, when I think
I remember childhood taunts
and oft-told stories of
the origins of my names, juxtaposed:
On the one side,
a beloved grandmother/mother surrogate
and on the other, an incontinent doll, Betsy Wetsy.
A savior, a cow, and a seamstress
all merged together under pressure to form
a multifaceted but conflicted image of what a
Betsy was
Davy Crockett’s gun. The woman who nurtured
the woman who nurtured me. A magic bus.

Betsy was expected to be rejected
for my middle name, Andrea.
More sophisticated, I was told,
but also indicative of dysfunction:
a tribute to my mother’s psychiatrist, AndrĂ©,
the man who nurtured the woman
who was neglected by her father
and rejected by her mother.
Not a common story in my white collar,
aerospace engineer, stay-at-home mom neighborhood.

What’s in a name? A chocolate bar
by any other name would taste as sweet.
The sound of Marsbar was cloying
and repetitive, alternating with
allusions to little green men and Uranus,
such ridicule unanticipated by my grandfather
as he abandoned his unspellable, unacceptable
name at the entry point
by force or by choice in favor
of the simplicity and grace and unbloodied
history of Mars, the God of War.

What’s in a name?
Had I arose by any other name, I would not be me.


* * * * *

"Sub Rosa" was first published by Silver Birch (July 2, 2015).

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


Friday, 4 May 2018


Broken Wings

by Karen Schauber


Janice woke up early. She meant to scrounge around for the sewing kit the night before but fell asleep with the bottle in her hand, again. She rummaged in the hall closet and pulled down the blue Samsonite from its upper perch. It wasn’t inside. Rifling through the stale pile of winter blankets in the laundry hamper also drew a blank. The last place she bothered to check was the cabinet under the bathroom sink. She got down on all fours pulling out the Ajax and spray bottles, flinging mouldy scrubs and crumpled toothpaste tubes behind her, and spilling the half-corked Pine Sol as she grabbed past the crushed box of sanitary napkins, feeling for the kit. A waft of chemical potpourri sent her reeling.  She put none of the wreckage back. 

Janice was getting right pissed off and needed a cigarette. Her familiar sense of defeat was almost in full swing, but she managed to keep her usual histrionics at bay and instead pulled on her shabby-chic pea jacket, stepped barefoot into clogs, and shuffled out the door to 7/11.

There wasn’t a lot of time and the kids might wake up before she got back. ‘They best not wander around the row houses looking for her, like the last time she left them alone and CPS showed up.’ - She promised herself that she would be quick. She would not hang around to chat, or to bum a cigarette. After all it was only the sewing kit she was after. 

She scurried past the low buildings and nasty bins down to the corner. Her unkempt hair plastered to the side of her face fazed no one. The neighbours had seen her in all her glory many times before. Harold was at the counter when she breezed in. He did not look pleased to see her. He watched her like a hawk whenever she came in, ready for her to swipe any number of items. She was straight up with him this time. “Do you have a sewing kit? It‘s my daughter’s first day at school and I have something special for her.” It wasn’t cigarettes she was after. Her simple honesty surprised him, and he came out from behind the counter to help her find the home supply items in aisle three. Without skipping a beat, she grabbed the package of needles and thread, slapped her food stamps card down on the counter, and waved off the offer of a bag.  

    
Janice made a beeline home. It was still quiet in the flat. In a few moments the little’uns would overrun her whining for something to eat, their bellies empty and needing filling. They would have to wait. She had more important stuff to do. She plunked herself down on the sofa and pulled the pink sparkly dress out from the cellophane bag. Janice didn’t feel half bad about nicking it from Marshalls. It was real fancy and she knew she’d scored a real prize. Laying it out flat, she was careful not to crush the ruffles or crinoline underneath. Her nimble fingers gently repositioned the broken wings on the seam, and with needle and thread brought the fairy princess back to life. Daisy would be over the moon. She would be the prettiest girl on the first day of school. 

Janice did good. She grabbed for her cigarettes and a fresh beer, and put her feet up. Parenting was damn hard work.


* * * * *

Karen Schauber is a seasoned Family Therapist practicing in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her earlier writing is non-fiction and details three decades of psychosocial and analytical cases. Flash Fiction is a new and welcome adventure for her. Fictional short stories are much more fun to read and write! 

As an emerging artist, Karen hones her craft at home and at the dog beach on the west coast (when it’s not pouring out). The upcoming Group of Seven Flash Fiction Anthology is her first editorial novella-in-flash venture. http://GroupofSevenFlashFiction.weebly.com. Karen’s flash fiction can be read at http://rebelshorts.weebly.com, at Spillwords, Blood PuddlesAdHoc Fiction, and forthcoming at Yellow Mama

She can be reached directly at: http://karenschauber.weebly.com