Tuesday, 13 November 2018


Taint me

by Geselle Dominguez


Captivated is one way of describing it. 
Hands find themselves tied together when I'm around you.
I've already burnt my tongue trying to get closer, but I'll keep drinking what you serve me.
Drown myself in it even, can't you see I'll love you for it? 
Remove my ribs so you can fold me easier, and I'll fit so well in your luggage. 
Your life.
I can straighten my back, my legs, my hair, myself; no skin off my bones, you see? 
Unless you need that too. 
I wouldn't say I'm disposable, of course.
More so, multi-purposeful.
Just enough to find me capable to clean your messes, wash your wounds, make you better for you; not enough to stay. 
But you never take the time to ask what happens to the scar tissue once I've taken chunks of my flesh to feed you, huh?
Don't worry too much about it, I won't ever ask you to, either.
We can continue this cycle for as long as you want. Washed out, rinse, repeat.
Call it hereditary; lessons from my mother showed me that the best way to make a person feel the warmth you feel around them is through the giving of oneself.
But when the boundaries and thresholds find themselves without limit, without warning, does that warmth become like light or like lava?
And I know that love is often compared to chemical highs, but is this what overdosing feels like? 
Everything seems vaguely similar to my ideas of what death must be like, eating me alive from the inside just to feel closer to yours, euphoria long since forgotten and faded.
I want for you more than I want for myself and you know that. 
Don't tell me you do too, or else it'll swell a thousand fold, overshadowing what my sense of healthy could ever hope to achieve. 
The irony of living surrounded by greenery, yet engaging in behavior so far from sustainable. 
Captivated, yes, by a deep sense of uncertainty; are these months too short to jump or too long to run?


Monday, 12 November 2018


Polite

by Lola Steel


I am raw,
sitting, listening, feeling
what’s inside.

there is a maelstrom
hidden from view
as it plays beneath the surface.

my thoughts burn
and tumble,
wanting - needing - to be voiced.

yet not brought forth.
they are, politely,
censored and tucked away.

they rear up,
demanding, clamouring,
stronger each time they surge.

I speak of truths,
honesty, visibility, transparency
openness. Strength. Presence.

all the while, I remain silent.
debating with myself why I leave
unsaid what needs to be said.

I am polite, nice, well-mannered.
it’s always better that I am
uncomfortable instead of someone else.

I see the edge that divides
the woman who is strong
and the one who is a bitch.

that edge is sharp
and I’m done
being the one hurt by it.

done with laughing it off
with accepting,
with allowing.

finished with being
the one cast aside,
for polite.


* * * * *

Lola is a happiest when wrangling words and crafting escapes for her readers to indulge in. The words that find a way to sneak out of her mind find their homes in her writings that range from poetry to short stories, novellas and LGBTQ+ erotica. www.whiskysweet.com is her home on the web if you’d like to stop by for a visit.

Sunday, 11 November 2018


Today's post in honor of Armistice Day:

Memoire

by Oonah V Joslin


This corner is my favourite haunt, as the warmth of terracotta gives back heat from the day, and shadows lengthen and pool in corners, underneath arches, behind stones, beneath greenery, and sacred scents of basil, rosemary, thyme and geranium blend and mingle in the evening air.

I remember as a girl, sipping the sharp lemonade my grandma always made, listening to grandpa, uncle Jacques and their old comrades telling tales of how they won the Great War almost single-handed, nothing left but cigarettes, a letter from home and a shred of hope, as they fought through mud and doom to get back home, and how despite it all, they’d persevered. They’d done their bit. And auntie Marie-Claire would smile wryly while the claque of her needles, regular as the passing of time, never stopped, as they might have been the ticking of a sun dial.

Mémé and maman flitted always to and fro, bringing refreshments.
“Encore des histoires de dormir debout!” Mémé’d say and wink at me.
My mother’s laughter filled the air. I drank it all in. My little brothers, who could never be still, played soldier-boys, whacking each other with sticks for swords, in and out between the shrubs, thrashing and parrying until grenadine, red as blood, was poured into tall glasses and they would gulp it down, their mouths sticky with red. Then papa would stride home from field or vineyard, carrying some seasonal fare: a brace of rabbits or clutch of wood pigeons, salmon or trout, cherries or cob nuts, or in August, dripping from a large wash bowl, a wedge of honeycomb, big as the doorstep, warm and golden, still studded with bees.

Soon a neighbour would arrive, or two, or three, or the postman on his bicycle, or an old friend of grandpa’s who happened to be passing this way just on time for the casse-croûte and he could perhaps be persuaded to un petit verre. All were welcomed. All were fed. It was like that in our family – no friend or stranger ever turned away.

And it was like that until the day I left; left to join the resistance, eager to do my bit. I imagined nothing had changed and that nothing ever would change in that peaceful place so full of love. When I was captured, it was this that kept me going, that gave me the courage to fight on until the last. I would die rather than betray its memory.

I suppose, from their point of view, I never came back. But the truth for me, is that I never left this paradise I was fighting to protect. And I am here still, a shadow among shadows in this corner of my past. The warmth of terracotta gives back memories of my life.


* * * * *

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

Saturday, 10 November 2018


Miss America 2019

by Jeannie E. Roberts


Some things take time, a long time. But if we’re patient,
maybe they’ll happen in our lifetime.

After ninety-seven years of American females parading
their bodies across a stage, it’s happened: #ByeByeBikini.

Hello, Change-Into-Something-More-Relevant Category –
like showcasing one’s mind, goals, and talent.

The era of ogling women, objectifying them, is falling
by the wayside, and none too soon.

In the mid-80s, I was hired as a fur coat model.
The producer wanted décolletage. In a kind and respectful

manner, I asked the man, how is showing cleavage
pertinent to selling coats? Perturbed with my question,

he let me keep the job, though my inquiry ended any future
bookings. We’ve entered a new age, one where women

are speaking up, finding their voices, becoming
what they wish to be without having to expose their body

parts to achieve it. Some things take time, a long time.
But if we’re patient, maybe they’ll happen in our lifetime,

or for the next generation, because you spoke up, were one
of the courageous ones.


* * * * *

Jeannie E. Roberts has authored four poetry collections, including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015), and Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She is also the author and illustrator of Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children (forthcoming from Daffadowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, 2019) as well as Let's Make Faces!a children's book dedicated to her son (author-published, 2009). She is Poetry Editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs and a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. www.jrcreative.biz

Friday, 9 November 2018


Compassion Wears Protest Peach Lipstick

by Jeannie E. Roberts


After the news, cut to break, thirty seconds splash, flash
glamour, and she’s back—posing in studio before focused
lens. She had an affinity for fashion, its flair, artfulness,
though she was plagued by its fleeting nature.

Acknowledging her doubts, knowing the importance
of inner focus, she taught self-development in tandem
with commercial modeling. Besides turns, pivots, and poses,
she addressed internal beauty, the parts that blossom,

effloresce with age. What she didn’t or couldn’t prepare
her students for was the stigma, the marks that wound
a woman who models or has modeled, the blanket perceptions
that tarnish, diminish, and alienate, the comments that cause

injury: she’s vain, selfish, spoiled, stupid, a real phony.
Why would anyone want to be her friend? She’s not welcome
or invitedWe don’t want her sitting at our table or near
our husbands!

When did physical beauty become a form of disability?
Why does elegance trigger offense? How do we shift
hostile and intolerant attitudes into acceptance?
Imagine a world where comparisons didn’t exist,

where human beings had the ability to look beyond physical
appearance, to put job associations aside, had the decency
to practice kindness, inclusion, and civility . . .
After the news, cut to break, thirty seconds splash, flash

glamour, and she’s back—much older now, settling into
her map of lines and wrinkles, wearing protest peach-
colored lipstick, lifting her voice for the next generation,
compassionately speaking out for beautiful women,

hoping that they may live without the burden of bias, labels,
and the insidiousness of lookism.


* * * * *

Jeannie E. Roberts has authored four poetry collections, including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015), and Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She is also the author and illustrator of Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children (forthcoming from Daffadowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, 2019) as well as Let's Make Faces!a children's book dedicated to her son (author-published, 2009). She is Poetry Editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs and a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.

Thursday, 8 November 2018


Cicatrix

by Iris N. Schwartz


From less than half a block away, her date stared at Corinne. He matched his Internet photo perfectly. Corinne raised her chin to signal him. He looked again, then turned and walked away.

She could see it in his face. Disappointment. Anger. Revulsion.

It was too soon. How could it not be? Today marked three months. Why had she let Stacey talk her into this? No, she couldn’t blame her best friend. It was her own fault, answering a dating site post with a BS photograph — a “before scar” shot. The real BS was believing anyone would be interested again, ever.

Corinne remembered looking at it, for the first time, in the bathroom mirror at her doctor’s office. It started an inch down from the middle of her left eye, and continued, nearly straight the whole way, down to her jawline. What the doctor called a cicatrix defined the left side of her face — in essence, bisecting it. The scar was medium-thin, mean. It didn’t belong. This was a Cubist painting. This couldn’t be Corinne’s face.

Now sitting on a bench in Father Demo Square, the twenty-six-year-old felt sweat bead her hairline. Her right-hand fingers started shaking, and then the entire hand performed a sort of palsied dance.

Corinne breathed slowly and deeply. Her hand grew still. Then, a brain hijacking: the thought, I am going to look like this for the rest of my life.

No, oh God, no. Perspiration spilled down her forehead; tears and sweat traveled to her cheeks and chin. Her eyes burned from melting makeup. She hurried through her tiny date handbag for tissues, located a single crumpled one, and gingerly pressed it to various sites on her face and neck.

She pictured the muscular man on the bench across from hers enveloping her in his arms, stroking her hair, whispering, “Corinne, you’re a beautiful woman.” Of course, Mr. Pecs was probably gay. If not, he holed up in his parents’ basement ─ where he cherished a thousand-dollar action-figure collection.

No man would ever call her beautiful again. And if one did, he wouldn’t mean it. Not with her Georges Braques face. Her broken face.

********

Two months later

Stacey asked, “Why don’t you place an ad, instead of answering one? You’ll have more control.”


“What do you mean?”

“You say who you are,” Stacey continued, “and what you want. And this time, if you feel ready, you can post a photo of how you look now.”

“I don’t know….”

“The Derma-Cov does a really good job, and the scar has faded somewhat, hasn’t it?”

“I…I…I don’t know.” Corinne looked down at her lap, started twisting the napkin that came with the uneaten Italian rainbow cookies. Hard to believe, but she had no appetite for Rocco’s cookies today.

********

One month later

Most of the waiters at Rocco’s nodded and knowingly smiled when she walked into the patisserie.

Corinne sat at a table facing the entrance, clutched her cell, and glanced down at her scar date journal while waiting for date number five.

She scrolled down to scar date number one: Nick. He told her she looked like a superhero; the scar was “cool.” What else, Corinne had wondered, did he find cool? A broken leg? Heroin addiction? Acid in the face? She shook her head. Nick was thirty-four going on twelve.

Corinne shut off her cell, looked up. Still no sign of date number five. She dove into her handbag for her mirror compact. The cicatrix taunted her. Of course it was still there. She could see it under Derma-Cov and foundation. Where would it go? Onto the cheek of the flawless blonde cashier?

Corinne pulled at her fingers, then opened the phone. Scar date number two: Sean. Told her he was built like a football player. Sean had a pleasant face, dark blond hair, smattering of freckles. He was, however, built like three football players. Or a stadium. Plus he’d just come from playing the game with his ten-year-old twin sons, so he smelled like a football locker.   

Corinne was still focused on her phone when she heard a deep voice. “I believe this chair is for me?”

She looked into the eye of thirty-year-old Rob, who sat down before she could speak. He had not posted a current photo.

Rob explained he’d been in an accident, had lost sight in his left eye ─ which is why it was milk-white. Corinne didn’t know whether to look at one eye or attempt both. She wanted to leave, but Rob was saying that every date who spotted him after his accident walked away.

“Maybe because you lied to them,” Corinne said. She no longer cared what she said. This situation didn’t have legs.

“Post a pic of the post-accident you,” she offered.

Rob waved both hands in the air. “Then no one will show up.”

“You showed up for me.”

“You’re a beautiful woman, with both eyes working.”

Corinne snorted. “What do you want? Why don’t you put a black patch over your left eye, wear a sexy poet shirt, and walk around with a parrot on your shoulder? Women will think you’re hot!”

“I think you have something there.”

Corinne stood up, smiled at the cutest Rocco’s waiter. Then she looked at the melancholy man at her table. “Bye, Rob.”

The scents of pungent espresso, sweet pignoli nuts; the touch of the manager’s hand on her shoulder as he guided her to the door ─ everything palpable was waiting.


* * * * *

"Cicatrix" was originally published in Use Your Words.

Iris N. Schwartz's fiction has been published in many journals and anthologies, including Anti-Heroin Chic, Five-2-One, Litro, Pure Slush, Jellyfish Review, and Spelk. Her short-short story collection My Secret Life with Chris Noth was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. Shame is her latest collection.


Wednesday, 7 November 2018


Beauty Parlour

by Lynn White


Step inside my parlour,
my pampering parlour. 
You will be remade, reborn,
stroked and smoothed,
petted and prodded,
cosseted and curled,
given the attention you deserve
as well as a new face
and shiny new hair.

In Pampers Parlour we’ll recreate you.
We’ll reboot your confidence
and give you a new chemistry
as we gloss your hair and lips.
As we shape your face
with new shadows and glows.
As we apply layer upon layer
of chemical shit topped by
nose retching fragrances.
You won’t know yourself when 
you step outside 
dolled up to perfection,
protected in your new mask.

And what then?
Will you go home 
and comb it all out
and wash it all off,
preferring, 
after all, 
the person,
with the old skin
and fresh air colour
to the new robotic doll.
The pampers product is 
designed to be disposable, 
after all.

Or will you keep it 
as long as you can.
Try not to move your new face.
Try not to upset your new hair.
Place a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign
on your forehead.
Keep it as long as you can.
Even if stinky and crusty,
you’ll still have your face on.
You feel 
so bland,
so pale,
so wan,
exposed
without it
on the journey back
to the beauty parlour.


* * * * *

"Beauty Parlous" was first published in Weasel Press, Anthology of the Mad Ones, Feb 2016.

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem 'A Rose For Gaza' was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition. This and many other poems, have been widely published in anthologies and journals such as  Vagabond Press, Apogee, Firewords, Indie Soleil, Light Journal and Snapdragon.