Wednesday, 30 September 2020

 

You’re Gone

by Eliza Mimski

  

Two months ago you were here and now you’re not and the street that I walk down - the long line of telephone poles, the line of stucco houses, the menacing foxtails on family front yards - go on forever. I turn up the hill and face the sun. I pant-walk up the grade, sit on the top step and gaze out at the ocean, a massive blue plate of remembering.  

            The ocean is wise. It holds our memories - that day on the beach with you when I first met the world. You and I walked along that shore. Don’t think the ocean doesn't remember this.  

It’s hot out, which means I yearn for things.

 

* * * * *

Eliza Mimski lives and writes in San Francisco. She's a retired teacher and has been published in literary journals across the net. https://elizamimski.wordpress.com/



Monday, 28 September 2020

Mourning Doves Make the Best Music

by Karen Friedland


Can I tell you how happy I an
with this humble little life?

With the paths I walk every day
with my dogs,
and the trees I know like lovers,
that bend in the wind.

Having finally learned
to fight nothing—

to let the whole world wash right through me,
and simply be suspended
in the still blue sky
of an ordinary day.


* * * * *

A nonprofit grant writer by day, Karen’s poems have been published in Nixes Mate Review, Writing in a Women’s Voice, the Lily Poetry ReviewVox Populi and others. Her book of poems, Places That Are Gone, was published in 2019 by Nixes Mate Books, and she has a chapbook forthcoming in late 2020 from
Červená Barva Press. She lives in Boston with her husband, two cats and two dogs.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

 Having Built for Ourselves a House That Does Not Leak


                                                                                                by Karen Friedland


in the pouring rain is the main thing—

having cobbled together
a bittersweet, New England
kind of a life,

amidst leaning gravestones
and miniscule old houses
with teacup-sized yards.

Years pass,
and you learn to survive the seasons,
the bitter coldness.

But oh, the nearness of the ocean
and the blueness of northern skies.


* * * * *

A nonprofit grant writer by day, Karen’s poems have been published in Nixes Mate Review, Writing in a Women’s Voice, the Lily Poetry ReviewVox Populi and others. Her book of poems, Places That Are Gone, was published in 2019 by Nixes Mate Books, and she has a chapbook forthcoming in late 2020 from Cervena Barva Press. She lives in Boston with her husband, two cats and two dogs.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

UNSUBSCRIBE

by Mary K O’Melveny


I spent time today
pushing and clicking
buttons and links.
All designed to
remove me
from commerce,
from conversations,
from cooking insights
and calico curtains.
From onslaughts,
opportunities
and outrages,
sordid tales
of dreams gone dim.

No one really
wanted me to leave.
Some begged me
to stick around.
Offered options.
Sought my opinion.
Were sorry to offend.
Wasn’t it a simple
misunderstanding?
Wouldn’t I consider
a brief reprieve?
There were causes
in need of rescue.
Consciences to be saved.

Suppose memory
worked this way.
We controlled what stayed
and what strayed away
from our grasp like unruly
children on a playground.
We were in charge of synapse,
neurotransmitters bent
to our will, molecules
waiting to bond with our
best moments, swim away
from mistakes and regrets.
We want veto power.
A second chance to get it right.


* * * * *

Mary K O’Melveny, a retired labor rights lawyer, lives with her wife in Washington DC and Woodstock, NY. Mary, a Pushcart Prize nominee, is author of A Woman of a Certain Age and MERGING STAR HYPOTHESES (Finishing Line Press 2018, 2020) and co-author of the anthology An Apple In Her Hand (Codhill Press 2019).

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Writing In A Woman's Voice is on equinox sabbatical until September 27, 2020. Happy equinox, Everyone!

Friday, 18 September 2020

VISITORS


by Mary K O'Melveny


A bird’s nest perches on top of a drainpipe
that snakes down from our rooftop toward the deck.
Our arrival after months away has disturbed the peace
of newly hatched chicks who did not know sounds
of opening doors, windows or FM radio news.
Human voices add a heaviness to their air.

Mother Nature has not been idle in our absence.
Tulips and violets, pear and cherry blossoms,
pale green ferns uncoil like modern jazz dancers.
An electricity fills the atmosphere as if
a summer storm was on its way. Each point
of light a promise of survival.

Today, dear friends stop by to say hello.
Masked up, distanced. What a joyous two hours.
A Baltimore Oriole serenades us all
from the top of the apple tree. A blaze
of orange amidst newly leafed branches.
Like us, cautious, yet eager to be seen.


* * * * *

Mary K O’Melveny, a retired labor rights lawyer, lives with her wife in Washington DC and Woodstock, NY. Mary, a Pushcart Prize nominee, is author of A Woman of a Certain Age and MERGING STAR HYPOTHESES (Finishing Line Press 2018, 2020) and co-author of the anthology An Apple In Her Hand (Codhill Press 2019).

Thursday, 17 September 2020

 

The Earthworm's Sacrifice: Motherhood, Mistakes, and Learning

by Julia Romano

 

When my dear Raffi plucks an earthworm from the soil, ecstatic with his find, I know it’s that grub’s death sentence. Gentle, Raffi, I’ll say. Wormies are our friends. I’ll remind him to hold his with tender hands, offer him a stick, or a bucket as substitute. But his grubby hands want to know what life feels like. They hold a pulsing, coiled worm in a loose clasp as he toddles, curious. Pulled by other exploration, he won’t notice that his hands have lost their gentleness. He won’t mean to hold too tight. He won’t mean to rub and squeeze until oh no mommy, wormie broken! Wormie need Bandaid!

And then, I’ll offer him my hand and say Here my love, give mommy the worm. We’ll dig a hole and put him back. Earth heals.

It’s my fault. I showed him that first worm. The ur-worm. Earthworms are signs that the soil is rich; they keep the soil healthy so that we can grow. I couldn’t wait to arm my babe with shovel, and knowledge that so much more lies beneath the surface. Dig, child of my heart, explore! And so he did. 

Each time it happens, I remind him that with all life we must be gentle, and attentive. That we must take care of the world around us. I’ll suggest that we leave that earthworm be. That sometimes, even when we really want something, it might not be the right thing to take it. That we can take a deep breath, and a feeling that is really uncomfortable, like a want unmet, will eventually pass.

Sometimes when Raffi joins me in my raking and sowing, he’ll ask for worms and I’ll tell him all the worms are sleeping today, my love. Some days I can’t stand to be complicit in the carnage.

How many earthworms must sacrifice themselves to one boy’s learning?

I don’t remember my own earthworm slaughtering, though I’m sure it happened—I was a lover of the earth, too. My father would take me out in the garden, teach me how to root plants, aerate soil, water just enough. The same hands that shook threateningly in rage-full moments could be so gentle. I can feel how, with confident tenderness, he pulled a planting from the nursery’s plastic popsicle tray of seedlings. The trowel so toy-like in his grasp, so huge in mine. Create a hole, plug it in, pour dirt over, spread. Water. Hope. Repeat.

An early memory surfaces. Sidewalk puddles, just after rain. I squat in the way that only young children, or natives of another less sedentary land can squat; easily, seat low and heels flat, elastic limbs. From that low perch I watch a parade of earthworms who’ve for some magical reason arisen from their earthen realm. I feel as though I’ve been invited to something important. The air is wet and though the day is gray I breathe in green. I am brimming with wonder.  

I am sure I squeezed a worm or two to death. Not on purpose, of course. But that’s what happens when young hands meet new things.

Not just earthworms suffer. It seems to me that every kind of first relationship bears the burden of learning gentleness.

All of those lessons learned at the expense of other things—Are those sacrifices recorded in some cosmic tally? A hashmark for every little worm. On each Soul’s judgement day, does the ledger balance—what we’ve broken, compared to what we’ve learned? Maybe that inequity is what sends us spinning back into the next cycle of being.

Learning. Is there learning without breaking? A seed planted must break through its casing to become itself, again. A caterpillar morphs, but to do so must abandon itself completely to becoming caterpillar soup. A planet’s caretakers must be threatened with their own demise before beginning to understand the global implications of their personal consumption—and even then might not change course. A father who learned anger early can come to gentleness, but at the cost of relationship with his first borns. A woman might learn her strength, but only after coming close to falling apart.

I watch my two-and-a-third-year-old learn. He makes mistakes, plenty of them. He breaks more than he builds. I do not judge him. I love him unconditionally. I celebrate his process. I guide where I can and provide Bandaids where they’ll make a difference. But, mostly, I try to steel myself enough to stand back so that he may learn.

I see his mistakes as part of his process, just as I see the earthworm as part of all that lives, all that passes, all that becomes again. His transgressions I, of course, forgive. They become golden apples, teaching moments that I pluck and share and savor.  

But what of my mistakes? They are not so sweet.

I am new to motherhood. I am two-and-a-third-years-old. Sometimes I feel as though I’ll break under the weight of my own fear. Some days I am worn down and short tempered. Some days I crave something I cannot name and live in the shame of my own dissatisfaction. Some days I do not respond as quickly or as well as a better mother would; some days I am momentarily resentful of his insistent squawking. Some days I am twisted into knots by bills and husband and this incessant fear that I will fail. And then shame pulls me under, for isn’t that squawking golden boy the greatest thing I’ve ever done? Some days gratitude escapes me, and I live for hours in the dark corners of my mind.

If I make a mistake, Raffi is the earthworm I chance mishandling. This is the crux of my fear—what if my dear, perfect baby boy withers in the shadow of my fear, is harmed by my imperfections.

I plead to the Universe: let my Raffi survive my learning. 

And because I don’t really believe the Universe heeds individual prayers, I know I have to practice. Every time I’m pulled under this tsunami of feeling, I have to pull myself back to the lessons my own child’s learning process is teaching: that there is no such thing as a mistake, that it’s all part of the process, and that it’s all learning. If an experience teaches us to be more present, and more compassionate for ourselves and others, then nothing is wasted. The energy of the thing broken is transferred, transformed into the lesson learned.

I’d like to thank the earthworms for their sacrifice. I’ll say a prayer each time I spill dirt over a wounded one, guts spilling out where toddler hands pulled. May you become part of the earth, again. May you nourish the soil, and what grows. And may my body, someday, nourish your descendants.

 

* * * * *

A recent admission to the school of mothering multiples, Julia Romano does her best to keep her first, eldest babe held close as well, and wishes often that she had more arms. When not juggling twins, toddler, guilt, and joy, Julia works in private practice as a Certified Yoga Therapist and is on the faculty with the Maryland University of Integrative Health. Her daily work is to make the inner like the outer—resilient, easeful, and open-hearted.


Beseech

by Margaret Marcum 


Imagine the light
with the purity of the lily,
glowing pearl in the cadence of the moon

beams. I close my eyes ashamed.
My parents shake their heads,
bowing to read between the holy sheets: their only solace

knowing that the worst is past and gone.
The sprung girl got out of bed and slipped on her
knit beanie and duck rain boots

quickly, before Grandma would be
wondering where she was. She bends
down to smooth her skirt and skips out

the door, watering the flower beds,
not, seeing a man in a black suit that looms behind
fields of daisies and poppies,

alike. The cosmic warrior aims her
bow and arrow of stars across the dark
night sky. She releases the trigger, it

streaks into the abyss of our soul,
hyenas in hysterics,

a little girl, hands folded, beseeches: mercy.


* * * * *

Margaret Marcum is currently a graduate student in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. She graduated with a B.A. (emphasis on poetry) from the University of Redlands, where she was a member of the Proudian Interdisciplinary Honors Program. Her literary interests include animal rights, healing the collective through personal narrative, vegan studies, and ecofeminism. Her poems previously appeared in Literary Veganism and Children, Churches, and Daddies. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020


She Flies

                                                            by Margaret Marcum

as if her wings
had never been torn
She leads the wind and breathes
in the tide—still, mourning comes with every sigh
You let me down
only since you held me up
too high


* * * * *

Margaret Marcum is currently a graduate student in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. She graduated with a B.A. (emphasis on poetry) from the University of Redlands, where she was a member of the Proudian Interdisciplinary Honors Program. Her literary interests include animal rights, healing the collective through personal narrative, vegan studies, and ecofeminism. Her poems previously appeared in Literary Veganism and Children, Churches, and Daddies. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2020


Indian Summer

by Alexis Rhone Fancher


Sunday nights wed drag the double mattress
to the roof, sleep under the stars, naked,
on cool, silk sheets that caught the moonlight.
I dazzled the heavens, my breasts fluorescent,
pin point nipples saluting the galaxies.

Your cock, darker than the rest of you,
would slip between my thighs.

You were better than any drug.

Friday and Saturday nights we’d head for North Beach
in our thrift shop finery, (my see-through
dress and platform shoes, your big black boots);
after-hours at Keystone Korners, you’d sit in with Freddy
Hubbard or Elvin Jones, play keyboards while I
listened from my ringside table.

I knew you’d be famous. Your name
on the club’s marquee, a recording contract
just a kiss away.

Meanwhile, you trawled the musicians’ union
for session work, paying gigs (weddings, bar mitzvahs), played
security guard at the Hofbrauhaus, coming home
at 3am, a purloined brisket or pork roast under your jacket,
cooked to perfection. Still warm.

Some nights, I’d sit at the bar, nursing a whisky,
watch you play adagios on the holster of your gun to combat
boredom, a scowl on your face, like you were straddling
the fence between guarding the place or robbing it,

each of us dreaming of Sunday nights when
wed lie together on the rooftop, complicit  
in the steamy heat, searching each others  
faces for some secret, lost between us,

like how we fell in love in the first place.


* * * * *

"Indian Summer" was first published in Gold Man Review (2019).

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily, Plume, Cleaver, Diode, Duende, Pirene’s Fountain, Poetry East, Pedestal Magazine and elsewhere. She’s authored five poetry collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019)EROTIC: New & Selected, from New York Quarterly, and another, full-length collection (in Italian) by Edizioni Ensemble, Italia, will both be published in 2021. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weeklywww.alexisrhonefancher.com


Monday, 14 September 2020


I’d Never Slept With A Mexican Before, He Would Only Do It In The Dark

by Alexis Rhone Fancher


ON THE ROAD

I had a knife with me that day,
I don’t know why.

We just started driving upstate.
When I asked where we were going
he said, “Coffee.”

He was too short for me anyway.

In my dream there was poison in the coffee.
It tasted sweet. I didn’t seem to mind.

IN THE DINER

There were miles between us,
a Sahara.

“It’s okay to smoke,” he said.
“As long as you’re not a train.”

When he reached for my hands
I saw tattooed saints on his wrists
where the long sleeves shortened.

He let go like he’d been burned.

Folded. A barricade. A moat.

I fondled the knife in my purse
till he caught my eye.

“Keep ‘em where I can see ‘em.”

I could live with that.

IN THE MOTEL

We danced in the open space 
between the queen bed and the door.
He sweated through his button down,
a silver crucifix at his throat,
looked like Marc Anthony 
in the motel marquee’s light. 

Free Cable. Free Ice. No Vacancy.

He kicked off his pants, turned out the light. 
Fucked me with his shirt on.

IN THE MORNING

I surprised him in the shower,
saw his tattooed glory, sleeves,
the American eagle 
full-winged across his chest, 
“Semper Fi” emblazoned on
a ribbon in its mouth.

I threw the knife out the window
once the car passed Santa Barbara.

“The road is the journey,” he said, 
the sin of regret in his eyes.


* * * * *

"I’d Never Slept With A Mexican Before, He Would Only Do It In The Dark" was originally published in Slipstream (2014).

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily, Plume, Cleaver, Diode, Duende, Pirene’s Fountain, Poetry East, Pedestal Magazine and elsewhere. She’s authored five poetry collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019)EROTIC: New & Selected, from New York Quarterly, and another, full-length collection (in Italian) by Edizioni Ensemble, Italia, will both be published in 2021. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weeklywww.alexisrhonefancher.com


Sunday, 13 September 2020

A Young Wife Speaks to Her Husband During Visiting Hours at Douglas County Jail

by Annie Klier Newcomer


You should be home
helping me
string slate and russet gems
into our lives' fortune.

We could be on fire
slow dancing
under a new moon.

Instead, I am here
visiting you. The only slate:
your grey t-shirt.
The only russet:
your orange prison pants.


* * * * *

Annie Klier Newcomer resides in Prairie Village, Kansas. Annie’s poetry has appeared in publications in Great Britain, (Orbis), New Zealand, (Studio), Australia, (Broadsheet) and the US (Coal City Review & Kansas City Voices). She provides poetry and playwriting classes at Turning Point, a Center for Hope and Healing under the auspices of University of Kansas Medical Center. Annie is in the Key West Cigar Factory Poets’ Group. 

Friday, 11 September 2020

 

Today…

by Nancy Lee VanDusen

 

Many Americans serving in Afghanistan today were babies or toddlers on September 11, 2001; many had already entered school; some were second-graders…

I purchased Pitter and Pat on Monday, September 10, 2001. As I left Ancient Times, our city’s small-reptile and pet emporium, I made the decision to take the two tiny frogs along with any necessary paraphernalia – directly to my classroom. This way I wouldn’t have to rush the following morning. 

I awakened September 11, 2001 to disc jockey chatter and oldies, but quickly switched to an all-news station after hearing that an airplane had crashed into one of New York City’s World Trade Center buildings. I showered, dressed and applied make-up, all the while listening to the lurid nightmare unfold. I called two friends before driving to work.  

A group of us lingered in the Teachers’ Room, somberly glued to CNN. I recall my thoughts: teaching, writing… life.  Nothing matters if this unthinkable event is possible. I feared for my twenty-one-year-old son’s future and resented having to be at work. We should all be at home… praying.  

And I was angry. 

Angry at our government. Where were our protectors? Our leaders? Why had they failed to anticipate, to understand, foreign terrorist threat and mentality?   

And worried. 

Worried that our leaders would retaliate in haste. Use poor judgement. Fuel fires. As a single woman who cherishes her independence, I shudder at the thought of living in a country absent of God-given freedoms. Yet for some reason, I wasn’t moved to join the majority of my countrymen and women rigorously waving Old Glory. Embracing nationalism. 

As the days, months and years passed, the numbers 9/11 took on new meaning. Our moods shifted from shocked and fearful to guarded; formal government inquiries were conducted. Facts were revealed – many sadly supporting my initial concerns.

 

The eager seven- and eight-year-olds who scrambled past their teacher the morning of September 11, 2001, delighted by the thought of two tiny tree frogs taking up residence in their classroom, understood little of the events taking place in our country that day. Their innocence, earnest enthusiasm, and noisy in-my-face presence awakened me… jolted me out of my doom and gloom. 

 Twenty children, finding joy in two simple yet complex wonders of nature, became a gift. Each needed me that belief-questioning morning; a steady provider of security, safety and routine; an adult to share in the excitement of Pitter and Pat, and to eventually make delicate mention of that fateful morning’s world-changing events. 

Today, sadly, this generation – these seven- and eight-year-olds – are risking their lives, their mental stability. For what? Families gradually shatter. Suicide proves epidemic. Nobody, least of all our leaders, can offer explanations. Logical, lucid explanations.

Today… September, 2019   

  

* * * * *

Nancy Lee VanDusen has a modest collection of creative nonfiction, has written three children's novels (a trilogy) and one fiction short story.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Ginkgo

by Mara Buck

(excerpted from Ginkgo For Remembrance: A Fable Of the City - from the viewpoint of a female Ginkgo)

 

One September there was suddenly more smoke and darkness than I had ever before imagined. In my long life I have overcome and witnessed all manner of things, but this was different, far different. I could feel the ground trembling and groaning and I could tell it was a bad time, an evil time. The air was choked with strange and foreign pieces that had come from the huge shiny buildings where the humans were, only there were no longer humans there because the buildings were all gone and the humans were underneath and the others were digging them out. I could feel the digging machines and I could feel the sadness, the fear, the agony of death and I tried as hard as I could to clean that air, but it was far beyond me. The sun never shone through all that smoke and haze and the fires kept burning. I was helpless. I could do nothing but lend my trunk to weary human backs and offer what beauty I could in my smoke-blackened leaves. I am strong. I did not choke on the smoke. I would not allow myself. The humans needed me too much.

 

The sirens and the lights went on and on for endless days and nights, but day and night seemed the same for the light of the day was blotted by the smoke and the city dark of night was ablaze with the flames. Even the English plane tree wanted so desperately to help, but we were all stunned and mirrored the shell-shocked despair of the humans. We took as much of the foul air into ourselves as we could and the small evergreens and ornamentals did the same, but it was overwhelming and some of us did later die from our efforts. The humans and their machines multiplied and the ground vibrated for months with their comings and goings. When I was younger, I had heard stories of the great Triangle Fire and I myself had witnessed human cruelty beneath my very branches, but this was massive, so massive.

 

They tacked signs to my trunk, and the nails were as nothing to me. I welcomed the brief bursts of pain because I could see from the other signs nailed onto the trunks of my friends that these were photos of humans, lost beloved humans with names like father, mother, sister, brother, son and daughter and many other names too and I heard the crying of the humans as they put up the signs and I shared their grief. The tack holes in my bark made sap tears on the signs.

 

Slowly, the winds blew away the smoke as the fires ceased and slowly I felt the sun again. By now it was October and my leaves were turning into golden fans and my berries were richly ripening, but the humans still were too grief-stricken to notice my beauty and they flattened my berries underfoot until they became blood. It was a time of mourning and as we all dropped our autumn leaves, we cried as well for the horror we had seen.

 

One night beacons of light rose in the sky to the south and formed the outline of the buildings that were no more and we all wept and marveled at the beauty of the ephemeral memorial. I feared the city would never again laugh, but it has been years and there is new life and laughter and new buildings are arising. I still feel the sadness, especially in September. I believe it will always be there. Perhaps if the humans remember, they will all find wisdom. And peace.

 

There is a human who watches me from his window. He leans outside in summer, resting on a floral pillow. In cold weather the window is closed, but he watches me then as well. He is an older man, my friend in the window. I wonder if he has problems with memory. I reach out my branches to him, to help his memory with my own vast storehouse. But I realize perhaps he chooses not to remember certain things, because, although I cannot swear to it, I believe he was one of those who rushed by when the great buildings fell, but when humans are running and covered with soot, they all look similar to me. Still this one was probably one of those who was there. He seems somehow sad. I try to be beautiful for him and to give him oxygen, for he has some apparatus in his nose, and when the sun is right I see a silvery tank gleam beside him. I know that he wishes me well. I wish him the same. I know there may come a time when he ceases to watch me. I hope it is not soon.

 

* * * * *

Mara Buck writes, paints, and rants in a self-constructed hideaway in the friendly Maine woods with enough food and medications to last the duration. She studied in New York, worked there for years, and loves it passionately. She grieves for her city. Winner of The Raven Prize for non-fiction, The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Prize, two Moon Prizes for women’s writing. Other recent first places include the F. Scott Fitzgerald Poetry Prize, The Binnacle International Prize. Awarded/short-listed by the Faulkner/Wisdom Society, Hackney Awards, Balticon, Confluence, and others, with work in numerous literary magazines and print anthologies. https://www.facebook.com/mara.buck.9 https://twitter.com/mara_buck

 


Young girl running 

by Sarah Law


Every morning she's let out
to run towards the sun – 

Her mother and sisters have helped
her make the great corncake 

which swells in the earth
while her long hair streams – 

even now she's changing,
unaware how far she's 

running from her own
quiet childhood, and just 

how fast towards unknowable life 
simmering within her,

rising, setting. She almost flies – 
her body is a recipe fulfilled, 

the land spreads out – 
the sky lights up to taste her.


* * * * *

"Young girl running" is inspired by the Navajo Changing Woman ceremony.

Sarah Law is a poet and tutor living in London. Her collection Therese:Poems is forthcoming with Paraclete Press. She edits the online journal Amethyst Review for new writing engaging with the sacred. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2020


             The Rooster

              by Meenakshi Verma


And the rooster kept on crowing for ten days thereafter.
One fine morning, a boy, chased a hen out into the woods.
The hen flapped, shrieked and ran,
All in vain.
The boy tried to bait her out, pull her through,
Subterfuge, by hiding nearby her hideouts,
 Till she was caught.
And then she struggled, blessed be her instincts,
Till she was strangled to death.

What? Why was it done? You ask.
Well, she was the target, that’s all.

What? Why was she the target? that’s a thought now.
Each morning she tried to wake him up from his slumber, that’s all.

What? You doubt that hens don’t crow?
One wise protector in ten does so.

Silence.

Well, that’s the end of it, since no one asked about the rooster.
What? Now you want to know why?
Because, he was slaughtered before the eleventh day.

What? Why?
To be eaten.

What? Who ate him?
Everyone.
Except,
The boy who strangled the hen.

What? Why?
Simply because he was not at home when they cooked.

What? It is inhuman? you say.
Well the boy felt so too.
What? No, not at all.
The murder was not inhuman.
It was not a murder at all.
Who put that thought in your head?
No.
It was the betrayal.
The betrayal of the family, who, alone, had fed on his pet rooster.

What? His pet rooster? You ask.
Yes, his pet rooster.
The boy was a visionary, you see.

Silence.

You have been a good listener,
So let me tell you further.
The boy,
Never forgave his family,
For having fed on his pet rooster,
Without him.
That day,
He had silently cursed them for hours.

What? Why had he cursed them silently? You ask.
And then the raconteur laughed.


* * * * *

Meenakshi Verma is recently working as an Access Consciousness Facilitator involved with healing using various VAK techniques, which overlaps with psycho-pathology. Before this, Meenakshi has received her B.A and M.A degree from Banaras Hindu University in English, has earned her certificate as an Access Consciousness Facilitator and has also received Junior Research Fellowship to pursue her PhD further.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020


At the Department Picnic

by Gabriella Bedetti


My colleague, who sat with me at graduation
in full regalia, who joked with me as we walked
through the campus ravine, and was widely supported
for promotion, was charged with murdering his wife.

I saw the family months before she went missing,
seated under the shelter at the department picnic.
His wife and five-year-old are wearing top knots,
their heads bent close together over a plate of potluck,
her cellphone with its recorded fights out of sight.

He is sitting across from them, looking away,
indifferent to the child to whom he has passed
down jug ears. The hand wearing the wedding band
is resting on one knee; the other is cupped on the table.
He left his gloves, knife, and brass knuckles at home.


* * * * *

Gabriella Bedetti's essays, poems, and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in New Literary History, Still, Gravel, Asymptote, Ezra, and Rhino. She is a professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University. She received an Artistic Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to work on a poetry collection exploring issues of aging and ageism. With two student assistants, she is leading a Collecting Memories Circle at a local retirement community. In June, you can find her blogging on https://lexpomo.com/. She and her spouse are translating Henri Meschonnic’s poems from the French. https://gabriellabedetti.wordpress.com/.​


Monday, 7 September 2020


Lipstick                         

by Gabriella Bedetti
                                             

A herd of jostling heart-shaped leaves,
elephant ears seek the sun.
The dark-veined plants sway in the wind,     
collect water in their cupped leaves
then bend and spill
the rain, a drink for others,                                                    

like their graceful namesakes
who use their trunk for a shower
or flap their velvet ears
to keep cool, spreading them wide
on each side of the head
to look larger in the eyes of the world.

In lush rainforests, parades of elephants
revel in water games, wrestling,
romping in mud baths,
the older elephants teaching
the young ones manners and
how to control their temper.

Nearly as long-lived,
I go bold, astonish                                                      
in Red Rules the World lipstick,
a nodding look-at-me drama queen,
the matriarch drawing on memories
of droughts and survival,

the others walking behind me in single file.


* * * * *

Gabriella Bedetti's essays, poems, and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in New Literary History, Still, Gravel, Asymptote, Ezra, and Rhino. She is a professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University. She received an Artistic Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to work on a poetry collection exploring issues of aging and ageism. With two student assistants, she is leading a Collecting Memories Circle at a local retirement community. In June, you can find her blogging on https://lexpomo.com/. She and her spouse are translating Henri Meschonnic’s poems from the French. https://gabriellabedetti.wordpress.com/.​