Tuesday 31 December 2019

Love in Darkness

by Moná Ó Loideáin Rochelle

It is difficult to get news from poems, yet men die miserably every day
for lack of what is found there. ~ WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS


Boarding a battered Belarusian Bombardier, tattered
satchels on torn seats nest like albatross on a cliffs ledge
as chickens cackle. I listen to the febrile trill of a little child.
Seven guards hold seven AKMs to the throat of a shackled
suzerain. I listen to guttural Soviet commands.

Traversing the Steppes on the banks of the Kura,
Kolkhida Lowlands greet beaches of the Black Sea—
and there, barbed wire binds the border crossing.
We argue with the guards who watch suspiciously,
as war shadows the narrow, rutted road to Sukhum.
Appalled, I throw-up.

Plague: infectious disease spreading rapidly, high death rates.
Multidrug resistant tuberculosis: resistant to most powerful drugs,
affects lungs, brain, kidneys, spine, floats in air several hours,
spreads through coughing, sneezing, speaking, singing.
Épidémiologiste: One who studies epidemic ‘dis-ease.’

I’m a spook, a closer, I study dog-eared data.
The fieldco shows me ‘the office,’ a heater-less closet.
My mind’s Absinthe in a labyrinth as I listen
to one-hundred and forty-four-proof Abkhazian double-talk.
What’s bullshit, what’s not?

Long days working missions by frozen cisterns.
Selaphiel the Turk translates for us:
Gabriela the nurse, Rafal the log, Uriel the doc,
Barachiel the tech from Liberia, and moi
the American épidémiologiste, frantic with worry.

We drive threading roads over crusted snowdrifts,
rapt in concentration, quiet, too full of fear to talk.
Yes, fear. The outpost’s remote. The ward a row of beds
in cold cells. Nino, a child of ten, laying in a cot.
I’m ambushed.

She reminds me of my daughter. Slowly she speaks—
‘Everyone’s dead, my mother, brother, sister. I take
thirty pills a day. Have pity on me, end my misery.
I want to play in the Black Sea.’
TB the dragon slayer of children.


On Sundays, we stroll streets of streaming sewage.
Mothers mourn sons—sons shot-point-blank.
Corpses twelve deep. We’re told three-hundred-thousand refugees
fled. Here old men in black moth-eaten wool drink black-market
vodka, playing backgammon on alder wood.

Putin unplugged the power grid yesterday,
he did today, as he will tomorrow. Minutes, hours,
days, without water, without heat, without light.
It’s Christmas. Cloistered in the compound,

we ignite beeswax candles, sup on khachapuri,
down Putinka in prisms of fire, huddling children
terrorized in the dark. I’ve never been one for long
nights, and retreat to my four-by-six cell, and
like a monk, I pray—

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me…
Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy…

I’m snow drifting, dreaming all is calm in America.


It’s midnight in Zugdidi, mission post
on the east hills of Georgia. I’m fractured
like the cracked glass in my room.
I write my name on the frost

to remember who I am. The cook calls
Bonjour. De quoi avez-vous besoin?’
‘Je ne parle pas bien français.’
She shrugs ‘Do you want café?’
Merde, I hope Rosetta Stone refunds my 300 Euro.

A new team arrives—gypsies
from Marseilles, Bordeaux, Kinshasa,
Monrovia, Port Townsend. Lion-hearted
Argonauts who traveled permafrost hills hidden
between then and now at minus
11.1111 degrees Celsius.

The military-green hôpital’s cinder-block walls
hold holy icons, smell of camphor, soap, and
candlewax. Cell after cell, convalescents fast
like hermits, kissing Saint George—slayer
of dragons, aura of light, protector of the poor.

The scent of sorrow lingers in each room:
a child, a woman, an old man, suffer
twenty-thousand pills, two hundred
injections, two-years of psychosis,
deafness, pain in solitary confinement.

It’s New Year. Gauloises’ gold with flame
anesthetize the pain. We drink rivers of wine,
bodies swaying side-by-side in pixilating light,
every Georgians’ a poem.
I need to leave this place.
I need to go home.

* * * * *

"Love in Darkness" was first published in Journal of Medical Humanities, March 2016, Volume 37, Issue 1 and is part of the author's collection On the Brink of the Sea (Cave Moon Press, 2019).

Moná Ó Loideáin Rochelle is published in The Southern Review, American Journal of Poetry, Notre Dame Review, Southword and elsewhere. She’s the author of On the Brink of the Sea (Cave Moon Press, 2019), and Mourning Dove (Finishing Line Press, 2014). All revenue from sale of On the Brink of the Sea is donated to Médecins Sans Frontières and Catholic Relief Services, for whom she volunteers. She holds a PhD and MPH from the University of Washington.  https://monalydon.com/

Monday 30 December 2019


by Mary Chandler Philpott 

And the sky is fire outside my window, it is stirring something up inside.
What have I done?

I crawled my way out, that’s what I did.
I don’t know what I need.
I don’t know what I need.
I don’t know what I need.


Can I tell you something? I’ll stand beneath and hold the flames. (I never liked burning bridges.) Right now, they chew down my arms. (I think I need to let this one go.) It’s darkening, it’s sickening. Don’t go just yet, says the sky. No, of course, I say. Not yet. I’ll stay.


Hurting and nonsensical, I am alone and the sky is a masterpiece. Why does it do this to me?

I am no poet, I am barely a traveler. Are my eyes even open? Someone look at me and tell me. Can you see my eyes?

It’s going, it’s going.

Can you see my eyes?

* * * * *

Mary Chandler Philpott is an MA student at the University of Virginia. She currently lives in Manassas with her fiancé Brandon and their puppy Edward Rochester. 

Sunday 29 December 2019

A Visit To The Shooting Range

by Mary Chandler Philpott

With a gun in my hands I am the least powerful version of myself that has ever existed. I quake and flinch. My hands shake. I cannot bear to keep my eyes open as I pull the trigger.

(When am I powerful?

My power will never look like that. It is a different breed. My power is quiet and watchful. It has big eyes; it lurks and retreats, retreats to think, and be alone. My power is feminine, it is a soft-bellied thing. It sits in a wooden chair, knees curled up to its chest. It hurts and aches and longs and is dissatisfied. It holds those feelings with hands that are steady, steady, steady, eyes clear — and shapes them into something that can be understood.)

* * * * *

Mary Chandler Philpott is an MA student at the University of Virginia. She currently lives in Manassas with her fiancé Brandon and their puppy Edward Rochester. 

Saturday 28 December 2019


by Padmini Krishnan

They watch her
with scorn, amusement,
and laughter.

She is too quiet.
Why doesn’t she laugh,
talk, joke or shout?
they whisper,
but loud enough for her to hear.
She finds a stone in her shoe.

She is too talkative,
too loud and flirts,
they condemn.
She finds more stones in her shoes.

The perpetrators are not men,
but women who pull down
their kind.

They throw more stones every day
until she staggers
and finds it unbearable,
but she never falls.

Now she has learned to throw
the stones away and
walk with her head high
whereas her gossipers
look for a new victim
with hands full of stones.

* * * * *

Padmini Krishnan writes haiku, poetry and short stories. Her recent work has appeared in Bleached Butterfly, Terror House Magazine, Balloon Lit. Journal and Proletaria. She blogs in https://call2read.wordpress.com/

Friday 27 December 2019

The Canvas

by Padmini Krishnan

Her intense anger at vicious words
found form in a mix of colors
and powerful strokes
that it almost tore her canvas.
She painted in watery colors
when she remembered her lost ones.
Her canvas found pastel colors
when she paused
by the edgy hills, flowed with the
smooth stream, and became
one with nature.

Her canvas was draped in
pleasant yellow, blue navy, and pink
when she heard soft tones, caring words
and gentle comfort.
And this is what her
canvas loved the most,
If a canvas can have feelings.

* * * * *

Thursday 26 December 2019

New Shoots

by Lisa Fields

I am not a traveler—
my roots are loath
to leave their bed
disturb new shoots
that stretch
to drink the light
that falls                                    
at the angle of their need—
past places have no pull,
no call that plucks my cells
to turn my healing
back in time—
and burn—
implore the deepest place
to speak,
expanding truth’s
bright breath—
until the scars
grow supple,
as the buds
of my awakening
drink the light
I choose to see
trickled from the river’s hand
by the dry earth’s touch

* * * * *

Lisa Fields lives in Southwestern New Mexico. Writing poetry expresses her desire to be immersed in a state of balance. Her inspiration comes from the joy of wild places and the challenge to live happily in the domesticated world. She is a contract writer for Quirine Ketterings, Professor of Nutrient Management in Agricultural Systems, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. In her home state of NY, Lisa served the farming community as an Extension educator for 10 years, and then worked for 10 years as a self-employed advisor.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

long night moon

by Jill Crainshaw

i wonder
as i wander

if the owl that once in a blue moon sat
on the reformed church-eave next door
will weather a damp december eve
to wait with me and the tiny terrier for
the sleeping beauty of this solstice night
to lift her yellow-gold head up from
a wintry horizon to cast her spell
one more time upon weary waiting eyes

i wonder
as i wander

if the advent moon will whisper-sing
through vulnerable arms of unclothed trees
she who full and overflowing has
poured out light like wildflower
honey over purple mountaintops
and spilled silver tears onto
too-new burial places

i wonder
as i wander

if the owl will call out
across midwinter cedar tops—
in praise of star-fall and
long night moon
as the tiny terrier
throws her head back
and howls and howls

* * * * *

Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She enjoys exploring how words give voice to unexpected ideas, insights and visions.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Christmas Cards

by Sarah Henry

It’s been a great
year for winners.
Photos of kids appear.
They wear holiday
clothes. Families took
ski vacations. Degrees
were earned, babies born.
Practices flourished.
Milestones were reached.
I can offer spare cards
left over from last year
with a picture of my cat
and best wishes
for continued success
in the dawning year.
I haven’t conquered
every corner of the globe
or field known to man.
I’m gazing out a pinhole
in a cardboard box,
wanting to be there
instead of here. A trip
to mountaintops would
be fine except for snow
and other obstacles.
I may ascend in
an unexpected way
and send boastful
greeting cards
to everyone’s surprise
at Christmas next year.

* * * * *

Sarah Henry is retired from a newspaper. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies in many countries. She lives and writes in a small Pennsylvania town without distractions. 

Monday 23 December 2019

ACCUSTOMED TO DEAD KIDS (sung to the Tune of Lerner & Lowe’s “Accustomed To Her Face” from My Fair Lady.)

by Alexis Rhone Fancher

I’ve grown accustomed to dead kids,
they almost make the day begin.
I’ve grown accustomed to the latest
locked down campus on TV,

the thoughts, the prayers,
the no one really cares

are second nature to me now,
like breathing out and breathing in.

I’ve grown accustomed to the sound of
gunfire zinging through the air,

the kid who shoots his classmates in his
impotent despair.

I’ve grown accustomed to their screams,
the ending of their dreams,
accustomed to dead kids.

I’ve grown accustomed to the sobs,
of parents frantic as they call.
I’ve grown accustomed to the terror
when their children don’t respond,

the pleas, the cries,
unsaid goodbyes

are second nature to me now,
like breathing out and breathing in.

I’ve grown accustomed to the anguish,
when they learn their child is dead,

hit in the aorta of their heart
or in their head.

I’ve grown accustomed to the thought:
guns matter, kids do not,
accustomed to dead kids.

I’ve grown accustomed to the lies,
the gutless thoughts and hollow prayers.
I’ve grown accustomed to the rants
the NRA and no we cant’s,

the maimed, the dead,
the platitudes instead

are second nature to me now,
like breathing out and breathing in.

I’ve grown accustomed to deceit,
- blame backpacks, Ritalin, or God,

never will the truth be told,
it’s just too goddamn hard.

I’ve grown accustomed to the game,
politicians with no shame,
accustomed to dead kids.

* * * * *

“Accustomed to Dead Kids” was first published in Glass: Poets Respond (2019).

L.A poet Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Poetry East, 
Hobart, VerseDaily, American Journal of Poetry, Duende, Plume, Diode, Wide Awake: 
Poets of Los Angeles, and elsewhere. She’s the author of five published poetry collections, most 
recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash 
Press, 2019). EROTIC: New & Selected, publishes in 2020 from New York QuarterlyHer 
photographs are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Pithead Chapel,
Heyday, and Witness. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry 
editor of Cultural Weeklywww.alexisrhonefancher.com

Sunday 22 December 2019

Venus and Saturn

by Rachel George

Saturn crashes into Venus.
His platinum belt lassoes her. 
Volcanoes erupt and fireballs shoot,
but the hula-hoop louche holds on.   

Molten hot they merge.
They follow Saturn’s orbit,
smearing cherry streaks
over the stars and moon.

Stellar clusters scatter.
Amoeba forms in Saturn’s waters.
The atmosphere explodes
into new screaming gas.

* * * * *

Rachel George enjoys writing poems and short stories. Each time she writes a new piece of creative writing she hopes that someone will relate to its contents. She is also working on a novel and has a Masters in Creative Writing.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Writing In A Woman's Voice is currently on solstice sabbatical and will resume on December 22, 2019. Happy holiday season to you.

Saturday 14 December 2019

There Is a Child in the Sea

by Jane Yolen

There is a child in the sea,
his mouth the color
of the top of a wave.

The tide is no salvation.
It laps him, slips him
Into infinity.

His parents claim the new shore,
curse the dark crossing.
His clothing weeps.

* * * * *

Jane Yolen's book count is 382—the majority of them children's books, 10 books of adult poems, plus adult novels (fantasy and historical), nonfiction and memoirs. Twelve music books and 2 cookbooks, and . . . she has a low threshold of boredom. She has written a poem a day for the past seven years. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates for her work. www.janeyolen.com

Friday 13 December 2019

Heatwave and Dance

by Myra King

Heatwave, many called him by other things, none of them complimentary, was dragging his heels, threatening to take the week-day-forecast into the centuries.

Dance yearned to kick up her heels, but her art was tied. Her other name was Cancan and she certainly Couldcould, if some body would, but she had been wandering lost, Out Of Vogue, since the twenties.

Moulin Rouge still danced pale facsimiles of her, a dozen mirrored versions, thin on passion but full on breasts. Rond de Jambe and Battement.

She was rhythm and rhyme. Steps echoing on wooden dusted floors. Loved and lovers watching. Faces and hearts warmed and warming.

He was uneven depressions, thunderstorms, flashes of lightning bothering up the fires from embers, into the cast of Destruction. 

Heatwave and Dance. Born of energy, spent and spending. One driven by wind and sun, the other by dreams and passion.

Vibrations mixed and mingled until Dance took the feet of a young girl, sent her swirled and swirling like the gathering of storm clouds. This girl and Dance. Together they joined forces with something stronger than weather. Then the rain came, soft as angels' wings and babies' breath and Heatwave was no more.

* * * * *

Myra King lives in Australia with her husband, David, and rescue greyhound, Sparky.
Among many other literary journals, her work has been published in San Pedro River Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Every Day Fiction and Eclectic Flash.

She has won the UK Global, the US Moon Prize and come second in the UK Cambridge short story competition. Myra has also been shortlisted for the US Glass Woman Prize and the Scarlet Stiletto Award.


Thursday 12 December 2019

This month there is an additional Moon Prize. The forty-ninth Moon Prize goes to Jennifer Donnell's poem "Trader Joe's, on a Sunday."

Trader Joe's, on a Sunday

by Jennifer Donnell

He was in the produce aisle and I was picking out a cucumber,
(the biggest one, of course).
He had brown hair and muscles, the things I used to look for.


I could have stood there like product placement and hoped 
we'd bump carts, then bond over a love 
of organic berries and fancy trail mix.

Maybe I'd consent to an impromptu romp
and he'd drive me away in the grown-up blue sports car
(azure?) I saw him drive in on,
then I'd do him in the front seat
overlooking the Pacific,

But, no. 

Instead, I hightailed it over to the frozen food aisle
to fish out our dinner, tacos with tartar sauce and shredded cabbage.
I came home, cooked and did the dishes… while you napped,
then woke, ate, and read our sons a classic about a wolf
dressed up in someone else's clothing.

Sometimes you're that wolf,
such big eyes.

When you think I'm not looking, I always am.
Do you ever stop to contemplate how they feel
as someone's mother, sister, daughter?
Do they see you with the kids and I
and wonder why you don't love us enough to look away.
Do they use it as a cautionary tale about the kind of guy they don't want,
who fantasizes about fucking them as I hold his hand.

You say it's like nicotine, your best analogy as a non-smoker.
The kind of hit that is hard to live without and isn't it human nature,
you ponder.

I ponder our lives.

Will you check out the bridesmaid at our wedding?
(No, gross.)
What about the waitress at the cake table?
What about other women in bikinis on our honeymoon?
What about our son's girlfriends?
What about your next sexy coworker?
What about when I'm 45 and they're 25.
What about nurses in our eventual nursing home?

How about yourself in the mirror?

He was in the produce aisle and I ignored him.
He went home to his wife and held and kissed her, grateful.
I went home and cried about all the woman you look at
during the three second rule. 

* * * * *

"Trader Joe's, on a Sunday" was first posted on Fictionaut.

Jennifer Donnell is a writer and poet from Southern California. 
She loves being outside, dogs and people who spill the beans. 
She tries to not to be one of those people who texts at dinner and isn’t sure how decaf coffee wakes her up. 
Check out more of her writing by connecting with her on Facebook.