Sunday, 24 June 2018


Perdition

by Betsy Mars


Seeking solace in ice cream, cream cake,
calorie counting, maintaining a semblance of control,
pounds falling off like ill-fitting jeans.
The anorexic spell is broken, and another cycle begins:
binge and purge: indulgence without consequences
I think - until my acid-washed tonsils rebel and I’m 19
in the pediatric ward, recovering with Jello
and ice cream (no less) and syrup sweet codeine
to lessen the pain.

Discharged, exercise replaces bulimia -
another attempt to control
my body, my image - seeking perfection -
always striving to be my mother, my brother, another.
Rigid allegiance to my self-imposed
regime: a dictator without discretion.

My 20s and 30s spent running away from myself
into music and television, the noise a distraction
from the void my dreams left when puberty arrived.
Finding comfort in fantasy and adrenaline,
in other people’s struggles, followed by
withdrawals from Downton Abbey,
the end of basketball season, the last episode of Survivor.

Seeking my next fix, pink elephants push into the room,
filling its empty space, rearing on heavy hindquarters,
their pleather skin breaking out in a cold sweat of withdrawal.
Pain and change are a nicotine patch
on my spirit, my spirit emptied, lost.
Bone-shaking delirium, tremors
against the open places, seeking an edge,

seeking a boundary, a safe place, strait-jacketed.
Bouncing from one extreme to the other,
not knowing or wanting any middle ground.
Swaddled, disarmed and alarmed, I move
on to the next, high or low:
only stimulus or sleep can soothe,
no solace in purgatory, anything to avoid
confronting myself.

* * * * *

Perdition was first published in Snorted the Moon & Doused the Sun: An Anthology of Addiction Poetry, edited by Deann Meeks Brown and Raundi Moore-Kondo (For the Love of Words Press, copyright 2017).

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, 16 June 2018

Writing In A Woman's Voice is now on summer solstice break from June 17 through June 23, 2018. New voices will resume here on June 24, 2018. Happy summer solstice to everyone in the northern hemisphere and happy winter solstice to those in the southern hemisphere and much happiness to all of you in all your seasonal celebrations.
A Short Half-Life

by Betsy Mars


Trickling tears well up
from some dire place –
a hint of a headache
nags at the back of the
serotonin control center,
the receptor gates raised with the blood waters –
with the ebb and flow
of the chemical mix
of the unbalanced psyche.
I reach for an explanation and find it
in the still-snapped compartment
of my daily dosage:
the remains of a pill, forgotten in the morning rush
until the reawakening of the sleeping
black dog that claws at my raw edges.


* * * *

The severity of withdrawal symptoms is associated with the half-life of the drug involved. Half-life refers to how long half the concentration of a drug stays in the body. The longer the half-life, the less severe withdrawal symptoms will be, since the drug will have the capacity to taper itself off of the biological system of the person taking it.

Source: 
Pristiq Withdrawal (Desvenlafaxine) - Drugsdb.com http://www.drugsdb.com/rx/pristiq/pristiq-withdrawal/#ixzz4ySRqXsPY

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, 15 June 2018


Poet Laureate of the Laundromat

by Rie Sheridan Rose


Poetry full of iridescent imagery
awes my mind.
Words that sing an unknowable cadence
but speak volumes.
Intricate tapestries woven of words
creating miraculous visions...
But they are not my poems.
My poems speak fairy tales,
or slyly offer sarcasm to
prick a pompous bubble.
My poems offer philosophy,
but cracker barrel, not heavenly.
My poems weep remembered tears,
or share forgotten songs.
My poems tell of laundromats,
not Luxembourg.
The pictures they paint
aren't by the numbers,
but they aren't Degas either.
More Norman Rockwell than
Andy Warhol...
I leave surrealism to
those that speak in riddles.
I am a meat and potatoes girl,
uneasy in the banquet hall.
But my poetry is my own,
and to me, it shines like diamonds.
I am poet laureate of the laundromat.


* * * * *

"Poet Laureate of the Laundromat" first appeared in Writer's Café and is part of Rie Sheridan Rose's chapbook Take Out.

Thursday, 14 June 2018


Bachelor Girl

by Sarah Henry


Her church holds
a night of recreation
for singles who
are active members.
She seeks
a determined man.

A preacher
leads the group.
He flattens his hands
on a long wooden
table to be honest.
“Now,
I don’t want
any of you here
going out
with each other
without my consent,”
he says,
from an omniscient
point of view.
And then--
“Let’s order pizza.”

Members rush
into an annex
and play frantic
volleyball matches.
Loners pace
back and forth
on the sidelines.
Out in the parking
lot, dark, desperate
snow falls
over lost cars.

The girl’s bed
will be half empty
or half full.
Time will pass
slowly or quickly
until she goes again.


* * * * *

Sarah Henry studied with two U.S. poet laureates at the University of Virginia. Today she lives near Pittsburgh, where her poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Poetry Review. More of Sarah work has been included in Writing in a Woman's Voice, MUSED:The Bella Online Literary Review, and the International Woman's Day issue of The Camel Saloon. She is retired from a newspaper.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018


In Retrospect,                                            by Devon Balwit


the mistake was to trust
machines, their makers,
my will, to be stronger
than sly algorithms,
the dopamine rush of
the ever-larger number.

The mistake was to offer up
one part after another in
a peep-show to strangers,
assuming one would fall
in love, my very own
happily ever after.

The mistake was not to leave
once I knew, but what
a profusion of flowers after
the fat lip, the cloy of lilies
over blood, the belonging
signaled by the blue bruise.

The mistake was to turn
my back on the children,
thinking them safe
in their rooms, the camera
slowly panning over
the slack-faced teddy bear.

The mistake was to absent myself
from seasons, from lungs
and rough hide, itch and chaff,
the pebble in the shoe,
the slow hours where nothing
yet everything happens.


* * * * *

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and three collections out, among them: We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (A collaboration with Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic); Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders); and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, the Aeolian Harp Folio, Red Earth Review, Queen's College Quarterly, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Red Paint Hill, and more.


Tuesday, 12 June 2018


On the Syllabus

by Devon Balwit


What we’re trying to teach is that failure is not a bug of learning, it’s the feature…
                                                                                                             Rachel Simmons

Sign me up for failure 101, teach me
a cat’s cradle for empty hands,

a repurposing. Walk me through a syllabus
detailing loss: this being ignored, this

belittling, this rejection, this the brain
consigned to a shelf, this the body

constrained to the traces, a hard-used
machine not under warranty. All my life,

I’ve been cotton-swaddled, able to fall
the length of the belaying rope

but no further, always bailed out
before a night spent on piss-stained

concrete. Push me down, but gently.
Punch me where I am already

padded. Let me practice bruises
before fractures, being average

before the hard-scrabble of a tarp
on the banks of the freeway.

Thank you for helping me transition
into ordinary, for easing me down

from my pedestal. I have taped
your certificate to my wall, a surrogate

for the mantel, the well-dusted altar
of the bourgeois temple.


* * * * *

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and three collections out, among them: We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (A collaboration with Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic); Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders); and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, the Aeolian Harp Folio, Red Earth Review, Queen's College Quarterly, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Red Paint Hill, and more.

Monday, 11 June 2018


Flirting with Death - a Love Poem

1.
In love with the rush. Not the high.
I’d shoot up again and again.
He was a born rescuer.
I was perfect, a bottomless pit.

We sniffed around each other like dogs.
“It takes one to know one,” he said.

2.
Before we went to bed we
went to dinner.
He kept hold of my right hand.
I’m afraid of overdosing,” I confessed
over coffee.

His voice had a nasal quality.
“Marry me,” he begged.

3.
In the beginning we were fierce lovers.

4.
“Shoot me up,” he’d plead, toward the end.
But I wouldn’t.
He thought it meant I loved him.

5.
I didn’t.
I wanted the drugs for myself.


* * * * *

"Flirting with Death – a Love Poem" is from Alexis Rhone Fancher's 2018 chapbook Junkie Wife.

Alexis Rhone Fancher is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other 
heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here (2017), and Junkie Wife, (2018). She is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Rattle, Hobart, Pirene’s Fountain, The American Journal of Poetry, Plume, Nashville Review, Diode, Glass, Tinderbox, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. Her photos are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Witness, Heyday, The Chiron Review, and Nerve Cowboy. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. She lives in Los Angeleswww.alexisrhonefancher.com




Sunday, 10 June 2018

Keep Walking” (On Las Palmas Ave., Approaching Hollywood Blvd., I Hear A Scream)

by Alexis Rhone Fancher


In the spill of the porch lamp the girl looks fourteen, 
cowering in the courtyard of this windy night, 
cheap stilettos stemming her pale legs up into tiny shorts.

Two men the size of refrigerators 
slap her face like shes meat that needs 
tenderizing. One stands behind her, pins her arms;
the other brute yells in her face:
“You will fuck who I say when I say!”
When he hauls off to smack her again I look away.

In Hollywood the streets talk trash, hold murder
in their asphalt, blood in the potholes,
used hypodermics float in the gutters, rats
dance on the lawns.

The girl lurches, stumbles in those 5-inch heels,
the only thing separating her from the ground. 

The two men toss her back and forth 
like a football. Her eyes catch mine.
When her pimp sees me he hollers in my face. 
"Keep Walking!

Im late. My dealer is impatient.
I do what Im told.

High on pot. Tequila. Fear.
I head into the neon of Hollywood Blvd.,
keep walking till I can’t hear her screams.


* * * * *

 "'Keep Walking' (On Las Palmas Ave., Approaching Hollywood Blvd., I Hear A Scream)" is from Alexis Rhone Fancher's 2018 chapbook Junkie Wife and was first published in Toad.


Alexis Rhone Fancher is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other 
heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here (2017), and Junkie Wife, (2018). She is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Rattle, Hobart, Pirene’s Fountain, The American Journal of Poetry, Plume, Nashville Review, Diode, Glass, Tinderbox, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. Her photos are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Witness, Heyday, The Chiron Review, and Nerve Cowboy. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. She lives in Los Angeleswww.alexisrhonefancher.com

Saturday, 9 June 2018


WOMAN TEACHING WOMAN

by JR


“I don’t know how.”

            “I’ll show you.”

“I can’t believe this is happening.”
           
            “Believe it.”

“There’s someone else here.”

            “Ignore it.”

"Slower. Slower."

"You just tell me."

"My mother would kick you."

"I’ll hold you.”

“It's cold in here."

            “You’re feeling warmer already.”

"Poor Richard."

"Think about you."

"I threw up."

"You’ve been spitting a lot."

"I feel less guilty now."

            “You said you couldn’t handle it.” 
            “I knew you’d be interested.”

“The party: should we go back now?”

            “The party’s here.   The party’s us.”

Friday, 8 June 2018



Journey

by Sumati Muniandy


It has been a rough road; I think I have a long way to go
Life is indeed a constant whirlwind of obstacles
I have been challenged by the trials life has thrown at me
Feeling downtrodden and lost
We have our silent struggles within us
I have been weathered by myriads of circumstances
I have struggled with insecurities and self doubt
My heart has been scarred and broken
I stopped for a moment to reflect how far I have come
I have learned grace and perseverance
I have learned to remain calm
I honour my struggle as I am going to get through it
I am going to take a step at a time.


* * * * *

© Sumati Muniandy 2018

Sumati Muniandy is currently an educator and a writer. She holds her Master’s Degree in TESOL from University Southern Queensland, Business Administration from University Putra Malaysia (UPM), Diploma in TESL from Maktab Perguruan Ipoh and Diploma in TESOL from London Teacher Training College. She has written a number of articles on various topics in The Star and New Straits Times. She has also presented papers in conferences. Writing is her passion and she writes her real life experiences to inspire others. She believes that everyone has a story to tell.

Thursday, 7 June 2018


Goodbye

by Sumati Muniandy


Goodbye doesn’t scare me anymore.
It makes me to look forward to a fresh, new start
Goodbye taught me that things always change
The things that belong to you now do not belong to you forever
People change due to circumstances
People leave you for some reasons
It taught me not to attached to anyone as it hurts when they change their minds

It taught me that I can say goodbye too
Sometimes you have to say goodbye even before saying hello
For life starts after bidding goodbye
For goodbye doesn’t break you
It makes you even stronger
It can be the beginning of our breakthrough
I don’t fear saying goodbye anymore!


* * * * *

© Sumati Muniandy 2018

Sumati Muniandy is currently an educator and a writer. She holds her Master’s Degree in TESOL from University Southern Queensland, Business Administration from University Putra Malaysia (UPM), Diploma in TESL from Maktab Perguruan Ipoh and Diploma in TESOL from London Teacher Training College. She has written a number of articles on various topics in The Star and New Straits Times. She has also presented papers in conferences. Writing is her passion and she writes her real life experiences to inspire others. She believes that everyone has a story to tell.


Wednesday, 6 June 2018


MAY DAY 1998 – San Salvador

            – a poem for many voices

by Lorraine Caputo


Death dances the cumbia with a campesino. She holds a
black & yellow umbrella aloft – fraud, corruption,
unemployment, misery written on each panel. She waves a
tarantula in the faces of the gathered crowd.

A man stops to interview her
      (♀) Oh, yes
Death says in an airy voice
      (♀) All is good for the growing Salvadoran economy.
      It is time to celebrate our nation’s growth.


From all of the country the marchers have come –
Santa Ana     Cabañas     Chalatenango
      ¡Presente!
La Paz     La Libertad     San Vicente
      ¡Presente!
&, of course, from here, San Salvador
      ¡Presente!

They are laborers of universities, the maquiladora
sweatshops & of the hospitals
      ¡Presente!
The campesinos are here
      ¡Presente!
& the unemployed
      ¡Presente!

Thirty & more unions of teachers & healthcare workers,
of revolutionary artists & students – Community
organizations & those for social justice, of the FMLN –
They are all
      ¡Presente!

      ¡Viva el 1º de mayo!
            ¡Viva!
      ¡Viva the Salvadoran workers!
            ¡Viva!
      ¡Viva the Salvadoran campesinos!
            ¡Viva!

Red banners & the Salvadoran flag, blue & white – & here
& there, a Cuban flag.

      ¡Viva the women workers & peasants!
            ¡Viva!
      ¡Viva the martyrs of Haymarket Square!
            ¡Viva!

The FMLN song blares from a pickup truck loudspeaker.

      If the government doesn’t follow the law
            National Strike!

T-shirts with Che there & Romero here. Together they
march & testify, from France, the US, from Spain &
Germany, Canada, Holland, Switzerland & Denmark,
from Honduras, Nicaragua.
Because the struggle for the rights of workers & farmers
knows no international boundaries –
just as the “global world economy” knows none.

      No to the robbery of pension funds
      No to the robbery of public goods
      the phone company ANTEL
      & the electric company

      No to the privatization of healthcare
      We have the right to medicine
      It is the responsibility of the government
      to give it to us

Tens & tens of thousands – Wherever we are on this day,
we march & today we are here, San Salvador
      ¡Presente!


            Banner:
                        For a 1º May with
                        Work, Education, Health, Housing


Vendors line the ranks with ice cream, pupusas & carton
hats. They stroll through the demonstrators bottlenecked
to a stop again.

I look behind. The crowd has grown, filling the street
downhill as far as the eye can see.

Every wall along the way speaks with graffiti:
            The Government & Big Business
                        are the same mierda
            Monseñor Romero     Juan Gerardi
                        Hasta la Victoria Siempre

Police stand on the sidelines. Some clench the butts of
holstered pistols.

Two men shake their cans, adding to the cries upon the
walls:
            Arena = Hunger
                        ¡Viva el 1º de mayo!

Further down the parade route, two officers detain a pair
of men. A crowd grows around them.

Every electric pole along the way speaks with wheat-
plastered flyers:
            No to child labor

A couple with their daughter stands in the doorway of
their store. The husband takes leaflets from passers-by.
One catches his eye & with unheard words, passes it to his
wife.

A man dips his hand in the bucket & smears a pole with
paste. His compañero sticks their message up. & they
move on to the next.

The day is thick with humid heat after last night’s rain.
The sky is still overcast.

A green pick-up drives slowly down the line. A woman in
back hands bags of water to the workers. Her young son
sits at her feet, licking a chocolate wrapper. His chest has
been deep-browned by the sun.

Into the narrow streets of downtown, packed with market
stalls. Past the McDonald’s, the Pizza Hut & the national
phone company.

A woman’s voice cries out:
            Are you tired yet?
                        No!
            We have to show them we are not tired of fighting
            for our rights & dignity!

A series of cracks fills the blocks ahead. A few marchers
look around, nervousness painting their faces. But surely
in this time of a six-year-old peace …

Our compañeros & compañeras, the Martyrs 
will not have died in vain.
For we continue on with the people’s struggle.
& we shall be victorious!

We continue zig-zagging through the center, past a fruit
stand & its pineapple scent, and we turn behind the
National Palace. A young man carries his niece atop his
shoulders. Around that building & past the Cathedral, we
enter the Plaza.

                        ¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!

Up on the stage, a man begins to sing. The amassing
people clap & join their voices.

Banners, one by one, mount around the perimeter and
flutter in the threatening sky.

Pushcart bells ring – hot dogs & shaved ice. A woman
wanders among us, selling silk flowers. She balances a
basket atop her head, a bouquet in one hand. An explosion
of fireworks in front of the Cathedral. Pieces of paper fly
through the air.

& song after revolutionary song from every corner of the
Americas: Solo le pido a dios fills the afternoon – I only
ask god that I don’t become indifferent because of pain,
injustice, war …

More banners string from trees & the wrought iron fence
surrounding the Palace.

These people listen to the speeches while licking ice
cream cones, munching on sandwiches. They sit on fence
curbs, atop a garbage truck. Men, women talk amongst
themselves, hands waving through the heavy air.

Many others are boarding buses for their hometowns. A
pair of human rights monitors stop to converse with some
demonstrators.

On the far side of the park, tables are set up. Players put
their colón coins upon the lotería-bingo pictures. One
tosses the dice.
            (♀) El Negro – at triple
No-one. The carney sweeps the silver pieces away. Again
the money is placed … the dice – clunk – are rolled.

At the statue of Captain-General Barrios, pigeons group.
With the sprinkle-finally-come, they alight into the trees.

It turns into a downpour. The crowd runs for cover. Tarps
are thrown over sound equipment. Those atop the garbage
truck climb or jump down. Some run for homeward-bound
buses.

But still the discussions continue. One woman, with a red
shirt, FMLN ballcap, emphasizes a point with her
expression, a wave of hand in air swooping down with a
slap upon her papers.


* * * * *

"MAY DAY 1998 – San Salvador" is part of Lorraine Caputo's work in progress, an (unpublished) five-part suite of poems about 1 May – International Workers’ Day – and its commemoration in distinct parts of the Americas (Mexico City, the US’ history, San Salvador, Quito and Havana).

Lorraine Caputo writes: I am a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. My poetry and narratives have been published in over 100 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa, such as Prairie SchoonerCanadian DimensionThe Mérida Review (Mexico), A New Ulster (Northern Ireland), Open Road Review (India), Cordite Poetry Review (Australia) and Bakwa (Cameroon). As well, my works appear in 11 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017), five audio recordings and 18 anthologies. I have also authored several travel guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada chose my verse as poem of the month. I have done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia. For the past decade, I have been traveling through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. You may follow my travels at Latin America Wanderer: www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer.