Saturday 31 March 2018

The twentieth Moon Prize goes to Susan Tepper's prose poem "Nourish" from her growing collection Meditations on Dear Petrov, posted on Writing In A Woman's Voice on March 9, 2018. A stunning piece from an even more stunning collection. 


by Susan Tepper

from Meditations on dear Petrov

Set in 19th Century Russia during a time of war

A ripple goes through me as though an arrow meant to capture a boar. I’m hungry, dear Petrov. My frame shakes like the train roaring into the station. What foods will you eat on the battlefield tonight. You never return home looking gaunt. I am a shadow. They must feed you well. I am fearful all the time. For my horse. That the enemy will come over the mountain in purple dusk. Burning the houses. Stealing my horse for slaughter. What then. My last friend in this world. I will be left to die in whatever season. Is this a surprise. You see me each time fading along with the daylight. As a feather you remarked carrying me up the worn stairs. I am worn from the miseries of war. War that cannot sustain any living creature. A war made to nourish the killings and fatten the dead for the maggots to feast. What kind of life have I been called to, dear Petrov. Each day I struggle to lace my boots. To understand the sorrows. I saw a tuft of new green grass along the roadside. It brought me some peace for a moment.

* * * * *

More about Susan Tepper's widely published work can be found at

Friday 30 March 2018

Rosie’s Bones

by Cheryl Sommese

A raven hovered in the haze above—
hastening fate.

She had always been a strong girl,
dragging me about the yard
as if I were
a vitamin deficient child
stricken with rickets:
a rod-lined spine arbitrarily
while shaky legs
and slender yet sturdy arms
fortuitously manage 
to subdue
such enviable brawn.

Her indoor persona was
markedly different,
meekness overrode native impulses
as mysticism channeled her
impressively strapping form:
profound wisdom telepathically
transmitting tales on
limitless affection
and valor 
and selflessness
and kindliness
and even loss.

But it’s her bones that resonate
in my head,
revealing merely a shadow of what used
to be.
Thwarting all promise of Supernatural Sundays,
she bravely albeit reluctantly
to journey beyond
our love.

Thursday 29 March 2018

Designing Narratives

by Cheryl Sommese

She said he was a mythical figure
to generate profits.
His followers nonsensically believe
while contemporaneously heeding innumerable messages
the presents they need to buy.

I glance around at luring department store ads
and the fashionably-wrapped gifts
placed tidily under my tree
and wonder if we really
are tragic adaptations
of marionettes
on a string.

But his magnificence endures
even in a world wrought with deceit.
I repeatedly see his light
in certain souls I meet along the way. 
Some are professedly his
while others know little
of his splendor,
then realize the narratives
we need to mind
are duplicitously designed prototypes 
we instinctively strive
to find
our place in.     

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Nursery Rhymes and Hair Loss

by Kathleen Murphey

Hickory dickory dock
the chemo treatment plan struck one
—one treatment done,
Leaving nausea and fatigue in its wake,
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock
The chemo treatment plan struck two
—and hairy locks were shed,
Leaving me as bald as a Humpty Dumpty egg,
only six treatments more,
Hickory dickory dock.

It was a shock today,
on the morning before my second chemo treatment
to feel and see the hair fall away in the shower
—noticeable and significant hair loss
couldn’t be denied.
It was the first time, so it caught me by surprise.
I had associated it more with the second treatment.
It made me cry as I pulled more and more of it away
and watched it pool in the hair trap over the drain.

Perhaps it’s better this way.
I have an appointment at Lovely You
for Lisa and Debby to take off my hair.
In my mind, I have been trying to take this step,
but with my hair firmly attached,
it’s been hard to make this leap.
Now with wads and wads of hair in my trash can
—the start of the progression that will leave it all gone
—perhaps I’m ready to enter the shop,
knowing I’ll leave with a wig and accessories
to adorn my newly shorn head.

Hickory dickory dock,
this chemo patient has Lovely Me, a wig, and a plan,
until I have lovely locks again.

* * * * *

Kathleen Murphey is an associate professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia.  Recently, she has been writing fiction (both short stories and poetry) on women’s and social justice issues.  To learn more about her work, see

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Lap Dog Kelly

by Kathleen Murphey

General Kelly,
What has become of your honor and your oath to country,
when you’re playing lap dog to a fraud?
You’re showing a yellow belly
when you take up the lying habits of your boss;
soldier of grace to mouthpiece of disgrace.

Do you attack and lie about Representative Wilson
because she’s Black woman of power defending
a Black widow—consciously stoking the flames of
racial tension that your boss continues to flame
by his contradictory remarks in Charlottesville and
his inept response to Maria in Puerto Rico?

You cover for a man like Rob Porter who you call
“a man of true integrity and honor” despite knowing
the FBI was investigating him for domestic abuse—
disgracing any claim you have to either of those qualities
and adding to your own disgrace and reputation for the
trivialization of women from Myeshia Johnson
to Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby.
Does it really take a photograph of Holderness’
battered face to make you take domestic abuse claims seriously?
Or more likely, does the photograph become evidence
you and public can’t ignore, forcing your hand and making
the necessity of Porter gone in “40 minutes”?

Shame on you, General Kelly,
Coach Gregg Popovich said it best:
“We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit
intellectually, emotionally and psychologically to hold this office
and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day.
The people who work with this President should be ashamed because
they know it better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they
choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame the most of all.”

Lap dog Kelly, your reputation as yellow as your belly,
your honor just a bunch of jelly,
shame on you, General Kelly.

* * * * *

Kathleen Murphey is an associate professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia.  Recently, she has been writing fiction (both short stories and poetry) on women’s and social justice issues.  To learn more about her work, see

Monday 26 March 2018

The Family Plot

by Amy Ballard Rich

Oh brother
with your gas light
shining out
urning your place in the family shrine

The myth you spin
will be carried on,
whispered as an aside
perhaps even with your intonations

After all, you were the golden boy
your brown-green smoky halo
keeping your smile intact

Icy admonishments from you
kept hidden from view,
altered facts about me
sworn true

Women are better
marching for liberation
but not actually living it,
could be the family legacy;
good that I’m the outcast

I have almost drowned
a few times,
submerged in murk
under your gas light

I have resurfaced,
embracing exile
breathing in fresh fir trees
and splashing playfully
in my favorite
unconditionally loving ocean,
far away from smoke
and gas lights

Sunday 25 March 2018

Unstitch Me

by Amy Ballard Rich

No matter
the knitted brows
cross-stitched my way
under molded ceilings

I refused to genuflect
before the Queen Bee;
luckily I have become immune
to repeated stings

Regulation decorations sparkle,
pulsing under thumping big books;
clichés begging for repetition,
hoping they will be obeyed

The basket-case was passed,
passers-by cased the joint,
don’t say the wrong thing;
they might drop a stitch

The room was full
of proud carrots
who vehemently insisted
they were not vegetables

I walked away,
cleansed myself in ocean waves,
breathing fresh gusts of wind

That carried me home

Saturday 17 March 2018

Writing In A Woman's Voice is now on spring equinox break from March 18 through March 24, 2018. New voices will resume on March 25, 2018. Happy first day of spring to everyone in the northern hemisphere and happy first day of fall to those in the southern hemisphere and much happiness to all of you in all your seasonal celebrations.

A Few Hours

by Mara Buck

Buy me shrimp
on a clear day when
I can see the blue of
the ocean replicated in
the clean white plate
the waiter brings
as he stumbles to our table.
And let there be wine.
Oh, not an obnoxious
cork-sniffing vintage, only
something soft and cool
that soothingly sits politely
within its twinkling glass.
Please have a simple
violinist silhouetted against
that sea, playing, a bit
of bright Vivaldi.
All these things,
will you do for me?

Let me sit pertly in
a darkened, classy club—maybe
the Carlyle, maybe the Vanguard—
listening to sophisticated stylings
with those who drink too much,
neither to forget nor to remember,
but only because it is there.
My little black dress will
be sexy, yet not tart,
and I will indulge in Campari
while someone else pays the bill.
I will be witty. I will be gay.
I will sparkle.

I yearn to be with people who are glib.
I crave cleverness.
Give me a quip, a pun—
quick-witted banter.
Show me the mettle of your
gray matter.
Surround me with a neverending
round of crystal martinis
of the mind.

Loosen my tongue with champagne.
Bathe me in kindly
diamond-reflected winks.
Keep the music smoky to match
the innuendo of the other little black dresses
who circle me with embracing cattiness.

Oh, take me back to that place
where all is parties or nothing at all.
Let me glitter, let me astonish, let me flirt,
until the time comes when I must
go home alone, for tomorrow
I must be whatever passes for me.

* * * * *

"A Few Hours" was the first place winner of the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Poetry Prize, 2016. Author holds all rights.

Friday 16 March 2018

Beowulf’s Blade

by Katherine L. Gordon

Beowulf is in those woods
where the mists writhe,
he has taken his sacred weapon
from the great hall
and written my name on its blade.
Where time-strings collide
in dark November thickets
I am drawn to test the walls
between the circles of creation.
Rain-bells glisten like fairy globes
on the tips of black-laquered branches,
radiant witnesses to the stealthy unraveling
of all the runes and riddles
that have prophesied this time.
All the summers of opiate denial,
soul-sleeps of winter,
fevers of spring,
have been stage curtains
for November’s grave-goods galliard.
Fear and longing collide in this dance
as I turn alone to call his name,
one must slay the unholy parts,
wake to other partners.

* * * * *

Katherine L. Gordon is a rural Ontario poet, publisher, judge, editor and reviewer, working to promote the voices of women poets around the world, as they are now flowering into acclaim.  She has many books, chapbooks, anthologies and collaborations with fine contemporaries whose work inspires her.  Her poems have been translated and awarded internationally.  Latest book: Piping at the End of Days, Valley Press.

Thursday 15 March 2018

Leonardo’s Flying Machine
(as seen modeled at Montreal Museum)

by Katherine L. Gordon

The longing overwhelmed me
when I saw it,
as it must have possessed Leonardo,
the time-traveler whose spirit could leap
outside the confines of the medieval mind
to fly into a universe of thought,
where man could soar with birds
in a light canvas-on-wood
swallow-tailed, one–with–the–air frame,
catch the updraft
glide over green spaces
close the eyes and inhabit the wind.

He comes through the centuries
as I touch his machine
built to tantalize the earth-bound.
I want to devour the grace,
the hurtful beauty
of a glider born
to bridge not only man and bird,
but free the soul,
lift you over the torpid,
no fire, no sound,
a kite into eternity.

* * * * *

Katherine L. Gordon is a rural Ontario poet, publisher, judge, editor and reviewer, working to promote the voices of women poets around the world, as they are now flowering into acclaim.  She has many books, chapbooks, anthologies and collaborations with fine contemporaries whose work inspires her.  Her poems have been translated and awarded internationally.  Latest book: Piping at the End of Days, Valley Press.

Wednesday 14 March 2018


by Marty Eberhardt

It’s not rain, it’s
Pummeling the junipers,
And now the berries
Fly across my path.
Icy-blue berries and
Which is which?
Both make me stumble.
Both glow
In the thunderous light
Of late summer gone rogue.
The balls land loud
On my nylon hood,
Bounce off my ungloved hands
Seed cones and ice, together:
They catch a little light
From the sun
As it jockeys for space
With the clouds
Racing together
To capture the sky.

A berry under a pinyon
Is bluest of all;
Impossibly blue.
It’s plastic.
I pocket it.

I could
Bemoan the desecration
Of this wild and chilly moment;
Denounce the oil
That beckons a child
With bright blue beads
That do not melt
Or grow into fine old trees.
I could
That my grandchildren
Will find more beads than berries
In their wild walks.
I could
And I’ve a good mind to.

Or I could
Feel thunder rumble my feet
Smell the sharp crack
Of lightning closer
Than I expected.
I will
Run through the blue seedstorm,
The hailwind.
Through the shaking shrubs,
The spinning leaves.
A moment ago,
I pondered
With oh-so-human logic.
Now, like a bird
Diving for the deep branches,
Like a leaf carried
Rock to rock
Down the arroyo,
I am
Routed by rain.

* * * * *

“Bluestorm” was first published in The Wilderness House Literary Review.

Tuesday 13 March 2018

In Pieces

by Nancy Gerber

with your chiseled
good looks

blue eyes,
sharp blade.

When you
my son’s skin,
in the cold O.R. light.


He is yours just
for a moment.

His blood once fused with mine.

Now he’s prone,
asleep on cold hard metal. 
A fallen prince. 

Your hands, precise
as time
knit him together.

While I,
my heart flapping
like a barnyard

hen, wait for
the block.

* * * * *

Nancy Gerber has published fiction, poetry, and essays in various literary journals, including Mom Egg ReviewAdanna, Persimmon Tree, and others.  Her newest book, a collection of short stories entitled A Way Out of Nowhere, is due out from Big Table this spring.

Monday 12 March 2018


by Nina Rubinstein Alonso 

Star Health, the hum of legs pumping treadmills and bikes, locker room steamy with bodies dripping from the shower. Last year Jessie worked in India where women covered with light cotton saris or salwar kameez no matter how hot it was. Rattled, she hides behind a locker and changes into her faded green one-piece.

“Culture clash, get over it,” following arrows to the blue pool, sun piercing skylights. Two laps then hot tub bubbles, eyes closed. Should she call Harris in DC, find out what’s happening with that under-funded India project? Opens her eyes and sees a man squinting from the other end of the hot tub.  

“We met somewhere?” Lean torso, light brown eyes, curly gray streaked hair.

“Maybe?” his face slightly familiar. 

“I’m Jake Callahan.”

She hesitates, “Jessie Shaner, first swim in a while.”                                                                                                        

“That’s where I’m headed,” climbs out of the tub and dives into an open lane.

Tells Kim, “Uncomfortable here, uncomfortable in India.”

“What does ‘comfortable’ even mean? Speaking the language? Wearing local styles, the tribal, ethnic thing? Where does that put me, born in South Korea, adopted by a white single mom? Shoveling the usual round-eye racist shit?”

Later Jessie remembers meeting Jake by the punchbowl at Eric Lang’s December party, years ago. Her Latina roommate, Melissa, is annoyed by Jake’s remarks about Africa, but not wanting to get into it, leaves to meet her bi-racial boyfriend. Everyone’s putting on coats, heading out the door when Eric hands Jessie a fresh glass of red wine and says, “Nice job you did editing my article on illegal Soviet arms sales. Been invited to submit to some journals.”

She’s part of his tribe of student assistants, no way to refuse, tosses her coat over the back of the couch, sits. He’s talking journals when she leans forward to set her glass on the floor, as she’s already had too much, feels his hand on her thigh.

“Professor Lang,” she tries, but he’s under her skirt, lifting her sweater, squeezing her breasts, yanking her underwear, his mouth on hers, tongue probing. Pinned down, she hears glass shatter as he presses in, thrusting fast, grunting, pulls out to climax, sighs, mops the gooey semen mess off her thighs with tissues.

“Don’t worry, careful not to make babies. Been watching those hips for months, wanting to fuck you. Great, Jessie, you’re really great.”

Shaking, she grabs her coat from the back of the couch and covers herself. He thinks she’s ‘great,’ had his quickie fun, would never call this rape. Maybe assumes she’s flattered to get fast-fucked by a full professor?

She glances at his thick belly, dangly penis, the dubious mole on his chest, thin hairy legs, shirt open, pants on the floor. He’s carrying broken glass to the kitchen, bringing a sponge to clean up spilled wine. Can’t let anger out, because he could cancel her fellowship, put a nasty letter in her file, ruin her.

“Jessie?” he asks. 

Curls under her coat, pretends she’s asleep. After a while he’s snoring in the next room, and she sits up, queasy, not steady enough to stand. The only game is pretend she’s sophisticated and cool, act like it’s no big deal. No use telling officials at the university or filing a rape complaint, forget that dead end as no one wants to listen, women are called liars, insulted, blamed, treated like silly, hysterical sluts who ‘asked for it,’ probably had a good time.

Tries to stand again, gets to the bathroom, pukes, rinses her mouth, splashes cold water on her face. Puts on coat and boots, presses the front door shut, walks home through falling snow.

In her apartment, too upset to sleep, she makes tea, fills the tub with hot water, scrubs, wraps in a bathrobe. Was there a way to stop him? ‘Don’t blame yourself,’ she says aloud, grabs a plate from the table and smashes it on the floor. ‘Damned if I’ll let that fucking bastard wreck me,’ thinking of a friend raped in her bathroom at thirteen by an older cousin.

Days pass, waiting for her period, anxious, as he didn’t use a condom. Relief when staining starts. Melissa’s older sister flew back to Puerto Rico for an abortion when procedures were illegal here, not that long ago.

She works assigned hours at his office, but never alone.  When he approaches, “Could use help editing later,” Jessie puts on an indifferent mask, “Too busy.” He doesn’t insist, knowing she could make trouble if he pressures her. Melissa’s still out of town with her boyfriend, no way to tell her what happened until she’s back. Then,

“That fucking bastard! Grabbed me, but I elbowed his thick gut and ran. That’s why I quit the assistantship.”

“You never told me? Said you were busy?”

“I was busy, doing research, finding ways to avoid him. Mad at myself, should know better than work alone in his office, as I’ve heard stories. I was wearing my old black v-neck.” Melissa’s scowling.

“That sweater isn’t tight or low cut, and so what if it was? He has no right to grope you, no right to grab me while I’m putting my wine glass on the floor. Same old shit, blame the woman for ‘tempting’ the man? What crap!” They write notes, consider filing a report.

“We’d get labeled troublemakers, risky,” Melissa says. “Some women are doing it anyhow, too angry to give a shit, found a woman lawyer, preparing a letter for the media.” Unsure what to do, they make notes, file them in a drawer.

Vision International is on the third floor of a gray stone building.  The secretary points Jessie down the hall to the office she’ll share with Miriam Bell, PhD, epidemiology.

Her ‘Welcome to Vision International-Marston’ message is disappointing, assigning her to an African health project, not Indian micro-economics, making last year’s work irrelevant. It’s going to be Ebola, Dengue, Malaria. She pictures Harris saying, “Welcome to academia,” laughing so hard his glasses fall off. 

First staff meeting they’re discussing the center’s name and logo. “Vision International’s ambiguous,” begins Chair John Markey, sports jacket, no tie.

Miriam Bell says, “That’s how we’re known.”

“Sounds like we make documentaries or teach meditation,” quips a sandy-haired man with a yellow bow tie, Nelson Hardwick.

“What about initials in a circle?” Miriam’s frowning.

“VIMU?” Nelson’s scowling. John Markey puts the matter on hold, “until R.J. returns and we find a designer,” ending the useless hour. Jessie knows Kim could draw five designs in five minutes.

As the new hire, Jessie’s bottom of the totem pole, Miriam the only other woman, power in the large hands of white men over fifty. She’s organizing her desk when Nelson appears in the doorway massaging his temples. “My head’s exploding. No issues at this so-called meeting, only ego-nonsense, worse when R.J. returns,” and leaves.

Miriam Bell has short auburn hair, wears chic make up and speaks bluntly. “R.J.’s a serial womanizer, his work undiplomatic, big ego, gets people upset.” Just what Jessie needs.

Kim does graphic design for a tech company, and builds quirky sculptures in their kitchen, tonight coils of green and purple dangling from wires. It’s Friday, no work tomorrow, but Jessie’s reading about Ebola.

“Studying the plague?” Kim’s twisting wires. “How about coming to New York with me to see my sister dance now that her ankle’s better? Any mocha almond left?”

“In the freezer. When?”

 “Couple of weeks. You’ll be on break?”

“Maybe.  I’ll check the calendar,” closes the depressing article.

“How about hanging this in the living room’s as it’s got nothing but your dragon lamp, a few sea shells, and that old futon in the corner?”

“Fine, but how about twisting my job into another shape?”

 Kim’s digging into a bowl of mocha almond, “More mismatch?”

Jake Callahan shows up at Jessie’s office. “Lunch?” 

“Too busy,” she says. Sees him at Star Health, sorry she told him she remembered him from Eric’s party, as this semester he’s at Marston. 

He keeps asking, and sometimes she’ll join him for dinner, though she dislikes him, some kind of gut revulsion. Is it because she met him at that bastard Eric Lang’s?

“Why bother?” Kim says. “You can’t stand him, and he reminds you of that asshole Eric. You know the old saying—better alone than in bad company.” 

“My job isn’t what I expected.”

“So? How does it help to go out with a jerk? I’ve dated enough jerks, better wait until someone appealing comes along, otherwise why bother? Just get hurt again.”

“What do you mean ‘again’?”

“Can’t get into it, too tired tonight, stupid meetings all day.”

Jessie tries a jazz concert with Jake Sunday night, again feels something ‘off’ about him, but what?

Monday Miriam says, “Saw you at that concert in Mercer Hall with Jake.” Shaking her auburn hair free of a clip.

“We’re at the same health club, met him at a university party years ago.” Jessie’s waiting for the clincher that has to be coming.
“Married, wife and two kids.”

“You know this how?”

Miriam smiles, “We worked on the same project a year ago, started dating. I was recently divorced, living in a sublet in Chestnut Hill. One Saturday I’m shopping at Macy’s and see him with an Asian woman, a little boy and a baby. I’m about to say hello, but he gives me this killer look not to greet him, pretend I’ve never seen him before. We’d meet at my place, always reasons why we couldn’t go to his, roommate’s there with a girlfriend, the apartment’s a mess, guy stuff—all lies.”

“Did you ever talk?” 

 “Claimed the marriage was failing, considering divorce, but the children were dear to him. Maybe still playing the ‘considering’ game or whatever the bastard calls it these days. I dumped him, glad I wasn’t in any deeper.”

“The guy I care about, Harris, is in DC trying to raise funds for the stalled India project we worked on last year.”

“I was an easy target, post-divorce. Are you doing the post-Harris thing?” Miriam picks up her jacket, brown eyes shiny with tears. “Lunch?”

“Too busy.” Can’t talk about Harris, nothing’s clear.

That night Kim says, “So Jake’s another shit head? You never liked him anyhow.” She’s looking in the mirror, clipping her bangs.

“I care if I’m lied to, made to look like an idiot.”

“Confront the creep, blow him off, don’t let him get away with it. How about a trim?”

Jessie checks her curly brown hair. “Haven’t cut it since before India. Maybe an inch?”

Kim mists and starts snipping while Jessie ponders Jake, Eric, Harris, Miriam, turning them over like cards in a game she doesn’t know how to play. 

“Need to tell you about Gus,” says Kim, brushing hair off Jessie’s shoulders onto the floor.

“Gus Kline,” said Kim.

“New boy friend?”

“It’s sometimes possible to have a male friend you don’t sleep with, you know? He’s a writer who needs a place to crash for a while. Used to teach high school, did landscape work, various things.”

“You mean he’s broke, has no job and you invited him here, the one place we can relax?”   hating the thought of some strange guy invading the apartment.

“Three weeks, maybe five, max. He and his roommate Nick helped me in San Francisco after I left Ian. Stayed with them for months getting over that phony bastard, madly in love for ten minutes.” 

“Ian? Ten minutes?”

“Hold still, I’m cutting. Talk about mismatch? Ian’s this smooth handsome hustler, talked me around the moon. Took months to see through his game and get out. The bastard borrowed money, maxed out my credit card. Never told mom, too upsetting, but stayed with Gus and Nick until I could pull myself together. They didn’t cross-examine, didn’t judge. Gus won’t take advantage. Nick and I got together and are still in touch. He’s even considering a move here, job hunting. OK, take a look.” Kim holds up a mirror.

Jessie looks, wondering how her sensible, practical room-mate, reliable source of sage advice, got sucked into so much craziness. 

“When does Gus arrive?” 

“Tomorrow or the next day.  Don’t worry, he’s a good human.”  Kim looks at her own hair in the mirror and tilts her head. “And I’m not bad either.”

* * * * *

Nina Rubinstein Alonso's work has appeared in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Ibbetson Street, Muddy River Poetry Review, Sumac, U. Mass. Review, New Boston Review, and other venues. Peacock Literary Review recently included her story "Double Rainbows: Translation for Mortals" in their hard copy anthology. vol. 1, number 2. Her poem sequence "Gender Veils" was awarded the 12th Annual Moon Prize by Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and her chapbook Riot Wake will be published by Cervena Barva Press. Her book This Body was published by David Godine Press.