Verse, Visuals, InVectiVe, NarratiVes, ReViews, and InterViews by Wickedly Wise Femmes
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Femmewise Cat is split up into two parts so as not to be too unwieldy. Each part is prefaced with the same Catatonically Speaking rant, but also includes, as an opener, a review of a different feminist tome. After that, the issues proceed according to genre. We list the sections/genres and poetry contributors in order of appearance. Artwork is interspersed throughout.
Sections/Genres in Order of Appearance: I. Catatonically Speaking II. Review: The Second Sex III. Versewise Femmes: Poesie Part I IV. Femmewise Rants V. Wise Femmes
Poetry Contributors in Order of Appearance: Holly Jensen/Puma Perl/Joan McNerney/Jessica L. Walsh/Kika Dorsey/Theresa Göttl Brightman/Ruth Sabath Rosenthal/ Karen Neuberg/ Simone Keane/ Gina Morong/Regina Walker/ Lyn Lifshin/Patricia Carragon/ Maria Marrocchino/ MD Marcus/Sally Burnette/Erin Reardon/Emmeline
It’s difficult not to belabor the point about female representation still sorely lacking in the written and visual arts, where representation is so crucial. Throughout human history females have been “written out of” and “erased from” the narrative of writing and painting, as though women primarily exist to breed, and that this baby-making imperative somehow cripples women’s abilities in artistic expression. It’s as though the Handmaid’s Tale is pervasively true, and women are not imbued with a spiritual core, but rather are passive wombs-in-waiting. The historical dearth of artistic female representatives is absurd and disgusting. While it may be true that some luminaries have shone through despite the spotlight being directed eleswhere – Sappho, Dickinson, O’Keeffe, to name a few – an oppressive majority of canonized and featured artists are of the male persuasion. It’s bad enough that women are not represented proportionally in politics and business. But I will argue that art is the axis upon the world spins, or should spin, and so if women are going to be predominant in some sphere, it should be the arts over politics and business. Perhaps this will enrage some, but bear with me. The arts tackle socipolitical issues more constructively than politics ever will. True, policy evolves from politics, but politics can be, and have been, impacted by the arts. Without art, without a mirror being held up to society scrutinizing its flaws and foilbles and celebrating its beauties and triumphs, politics cease to mean anything. (And yes, women in math and sciences are also ludicrously lacking, though that’s changing, ever-so-gradually - but of course discrimination dumbly abounds!) I hate to couch things in politically correct terms (even though at times I unconciously hew to the tyrannical tenets of political correctness), but the patriarchal establishment is, patently, afraid of women – afraid of our subtle and seductive intellectual prowess. Women are inherently sly, witty, nuanced, innovative, compassionate, passionate, fiery,
feisty, cerebral, spiritual, erotic … women are convoluted creatures with awesome abilities. This frightens the small-minded. I have never seen myself as limited by my gender. From a very young age, I have intuitively embraced the fact that I am a person first, and that those who are whole are the ones who understand that we are spiritually androgynyous – that is, the male and female resides in us all. I have also always been feisty and gutsy, and never saw those qualities as deviating from typical female traits. (It helped, of course, that my mother, a strong female role model, is a scholar and a professor, and a member of a pioneering group of women who sought intellectual work over clerical work in a time when women’s roles were still ambiguous). That said, the genders are clearly distinctive in some respects, and of course this fact is taken to extremes in the realms of societal gender roles, which are rigidly reinforced by myopic losers. But those of us who were born with a vagina and breasts do have certain powers that males lack. This is not to say that men are inferior creatures, per se, just that there are features that we possess that cannot be accessed by those with a penis. And this is why the systematic suppression of women’s voices in the arts – and the unfathomable oppression of women in society, which persists in various guises all over the world, even today, despite a slightly savvier populace – is so fucking evil. Without women’s voices, we are only getting half the story of humanity, if even that. And that half of the story is often marred by sickening scenes of rape and various other forms of female subjugation. How have we allowed this? The suffragists suffered so that we could access our naturalborn rights, and the women in the 1970s “second wave” feminist movement (as documented in the recently released film, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry”) also fought feistily and tirelessly and so that we could live happier, healthier lives. But we still have not come far enough if rape is an everyday occurrence; if women do not earn the same amount as men (there is a 22 percent gender wage gap); if spousal abuse is not only common, but commonly dismissed in the courts; if women are still the main domestic caretakers, cooks and cleaners; if women in music and movies are still rewarded more for appearance than ability; if women are still underrepresented in the arts; if women’s reproductive rights are being curtailed and corroded STILL … the litany of cruel inequities is endless, tragically. Femmewise Cat, radiating from the small press webzine Clockwise Cat, very humbly attempts to redress the immoral asymmetry of men dominating the artistic conversation. I do believe in equilibrium, and I do believe that feminism is humanism, but I also believe that women have a peculiar angle on things, and therefore merit an outsized issue such as this. It does hearten me that so many women are prominent in the small presses, but it’s not enough. We need to flood all presses with our presence, and show those that constitute the regressive patriarchal establishment (thankfully, not all men, but too many, all the same) that we will not cower in the hideous face of petty misogyny. We will meet it head on, and we will crush you with our minds, and our souls.
The Second Sex Dissected by Alison Ross
Any review of a feminist tome must invariably involve some sort of disclaimer. Because these days, "feminist" is such a loaded term, weighted with almost sinister sociopolitical subtext. If you call yourself a feminist then you set yourself up for derision, especially from benighted types (male and female alike) who view the label as something that purposefully and pettily excludes the other gender. Of course, they forget, or rather do not discern, that history is built upon the foundation of patriarchy, which has myopically and cruelly rendered the female of the species an inferior incarnation. Now, to be fair, I don't disagree that feminism can be an exclusive brand. I do, of course, understand and endorse the impetus of the movement's existence. What I don't value in the movement is some adherents' elevation of the female above the male. For this is merely plagiarizing patriarchal tenets. In order to be truly feminist, we must wholeheartedly embrace gender equity. Which is why ultimately I call myself a humanist. It's not so much that I disavow feminism as I want to be all-inclusive. Make no mistake, I believe the feminist movement SHOULD exist in order to ensure facile access to our birth-endowed rights and to toil toward derailing gender discrimination. And I will gladly partake in that movement, just as I will gladly partake in a gay rights movement, an immigrant rights movement, and so on. But I do not DEFINE myself by feminism alone, and this is where I might differ from some who ardently advocate for female rights. Of course I believe in equal rights, but I don't think of myself as female first. I identify as human first and simply believe in a level playing field for both genders. Furthermore, men are discriminated against in society as well, and this is something that some, perhaps many, who identify as feminists fail to grasp. But you cannot be truly feminist without acknowledging this truth. All of that said, I find Simone de Beauvoir's book, "The Second Sex" a brilliantly insightful and empowering read. It reinforces my humanism toward the most discriminated gender, the female. The title, of course, refers to the fact that females are relegated by society to "second sex" status as opposed to being viewed and treated as
equal among the species. This may be a waning truth in today's western world, but it still holds true to a certain, perhaps even intense, degree - and in other parts of the world, it holds very true. In any event, de Beauvoir's book, written in 1950, on the cusp of the woman's liberation movement, continues to resonate in the modern world. "The Second Sex" painstakingly synthesizes every facet of oppressed female life, from the physical, to the psychological, to the economic, to the historic. De Beauvoir's book weaves research, interviews, literary excerpts, and her own searing insights to create an impossibly rich tapestry that radically revolutionizes the way we think about ourselves as humans, and as women. It's a truly heady concoction that both intoxicates and sobers. It intoxicates us with its cyclonic whirl of facts and ideas, and then sobers us up to the sometimes brutal reality of living life as a female. My favorite parts of the book include those that discuss the sexual dynamics of being female, and which delve into woman's tragic emotional and financial dependency on males. Naturally the latter is societally enforced. Because woman bears the birthing burden, society has decreed that her contribution must be domestic in nature, while her husband's work is external to the home. Because man's work is "out" in the world, he is therefore more integrated into society and hence his soul is vital, transcendent. On the other hand, woman is sequestered from society and hence her soul is stagnant. Of course, de Beauvoir states these things far more eloquently than I can. And, of course, more and more women work outside the home nowadays, but the noxious idea that the domestic is woman's domain prevails. One only need to refer to TV adverts to elucidate this fact. Sexually speaking, females have rich erotic potential. So much so that it seems that she has almost boundless sexual energy, as de Beauvoir observes. Of course, her eros is often repressed - her psyche represses it because society fears it. If the fact of woman's sexual potency is widely exposed, society would have to subvert its expectations of her, and it's far more psychologically convenient to just go with the status quo. The status quo being, of course, that sexuality is a man's province and that women are the suppliers of erotic pleasure for the male. Granted, these attitudes have changed a bit and women have gained a certain amount of sexual freedom. But the pernicious idea persists that promiscuous women are harlots and that females should remain more chaste, while sexually indulgent males are regarded as simply indulging their primitive instincts. They are not branded in a derogatory manner. But true equality means that women should be just as "free" to have promiscuous sex as men. Whether or not promiscuity is healthy is not the issue. If women want to indulge their erotic desires to their heart's content, they should be able to without reproach from anyone. The existence of this dangerously dichotomous attitude - man's unrestrained sexuality is an extension of his natural proclivities, whereas the same in woman is an abominable aberration from her true nature - creates a toxic climate for women and men both. The ideal for both genders might be monogamy, but double standards debase us all. Furthermore, if women's sexuality manifests itself so strongly, then that might mean that women are capable of infidelity. We already know of women's capacity to stray, but often people dismiss it as an emotional thing. It may be true that generally speaking, sexuality
and emotion are more strongly fused in women than in men (of course, this may be another societally-generated phenomenon), but it may also be true that women seek extra-marital liasons for the sake of sexual adventure alone. And society cannot countenance that, because of her long-cherished image of chastity, crudely reinforced by religion. If man is primitive and lacks a spiritual core, then we must counterbalance that with woman, whose spirituality is imbued by a sexual purity. Or, at least that's how society constructs it. Some of the above musings are my extrapolations from de Beauvoir's tome, and not necessarily her own assertions. And that is what makes the book such a compelling read; its arguments induce us to explore our own theoretical tangents. The book is so rife with details and insights that de Beauvoir leaves no stone uncovered. It's though she were held in the grip of a fervent quest to set things right overnight with the publication of her book. And it is true that her book dramatically altered how many people think about women, and perhaps even led to concrete (if nuanced) changes in society, much as Sinclair's book The Jungle did for the meat-packing industry. But, of course, there is so much more work to be done, all over the world. I say that de Beauvoir's book be required reading in every high school and college; the more sensitive among both sexes are sure to take its thesis to heart and be impelled to act in order to metamorphose gender relations. The book's basic treatise is that women have passively accepted the second-status role that men have aggressively imposed upon her. Therefore, women and men work in a kind of unconsciously conspiratorial tandem to ensure that women are "objects" with no tangible idenity outside of men, while men are "subjects," infused with a viable identity. Women passively play into their role because in order to avoid upsetting the established patriarchy; men aggressively enforce the role because they do not want to relinquish their patriarchal privilege. So, in other words, until women are fully freed from the patriarchy, we cannot intimately know her true nature and character. We always view women through the prism of her servitude. And, of course, this is a very distressing truth, one that I have a hard time accepting. I like to think of myself as fully emancipated, but the fact of the matter is, I am as much a victim of society's crass constrictions as anyone else. I might be somewhat more consciously liberated than some women, but this does not negate the raw reality that most women are not absolutely free. And in this way, de Beauvoir's book is a painful pill to swallow, because it forces us to confront ourselves as men and women. The book is an exhaustive treatment of gender themes, and exhausting emotionally and psychologically. And yet, De Beauvoir's monumental feminist manifesto is not an anti-male diatribe by any means. It is, rather, a sly, thoughtful, creative plea for women to be fully emancipated from her societal shackles so that her "otherness" is obliterated in favor of her uniqueness. For the sexes, de Beauvoir is saying, are inherently equal, but manifestly different. It's woman's and man's differences that delineate them from each other, but that also define their interdependence. Society is doing itself a grave injustice by subjugating woman to secondary status. In doing so it is cutting off one of its vital limbs, and de Beauvoir's text provides a bold remedy to counteract that fatal move.
POESIE part I
Four poems By Holly Jensen
SEX PANIC Headlines from Cosmo and Maxim Cosmo Investigates: Big Sex News Naked Chefs Deep Sex Erotic Sex Dirty Sexy Sex What Men Find Hot What Men Want This July What Men Want at 9pm Maxim Takes Quebec Voodoo Sex Nuclear Football Naked Twister Scream Machines 7 Sex Toys Already in Your Bedroom 7 Dreams You Must Not Ignore 20 Beer Workout 30 Things to Do to a Naked Man 317 Sexy Spring Looks 3000 Girls Bare All Be a Lucky Bitch Sleep Naked Give Yourself a Brazilian Never Get PMS Again Lose Weight While You Eat Own His Orgasm She Caught a Rapist with a Straw Be A Sex Genius Cheat Like Hell Win Sex with His FiancĂŠ Spank Mother Nature Build Your Own Nuke Turn Your Dog into a Mobile Beer Cooler Rule the World
Is He Normal Down There? Am I Normal Down There? Are You Really a Good Friend? Are You Ever a Bitch? Is She a Psycho? Are You a Girl? How to Simplify Your Life He Craves She Craves Boost Happiness Tighter Love His Fear Her Fear Greatest Fear Before You Die Die Alone Confessions Confess It Hurts to Sleep How You Will Die You Will Die
HOW TO BE A WOMAN Phase 1 Play Fuck, Marry, Kill with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost Become one of those Don’t Call Me a Girl girls Sweat blood Learn how to spit Feel like a punch line Discover that your porn name would be Zeke County Road 16 Calculate the fair market value of sweet nothings Realize you should never date your dealer. In fact, don’t even fuck your dealer Learn how to take a compliment like a prizefighter takes a hit (Fuck you mean voluptuous? Fuck you mean bubbly? Fuck you mean clever?) Phase 2 1. Drink the spiked Kool Aid 2. Just stay still and let yourself be annexed 3. Write a poem called “Womb,” write a poem called “War,” write a poem called “How to Be a Woman”
4. Sure, you could be a kept woman, but what kind of a lunatic would keep you? 5. Unlearn that psychotic song about smiling though your heart is breaking 6. Apologize to everyone and everything in sight 7. Determine that there are only two kinds of people: those who give themselves the benefit of the doubt and those who can’t 8. Go back to not existing 9. Hit rock bottom and bounce Phase 3 1. Forge a garden 2. Become a crowd 3. Collect tattoos to commemorate your selves 4. Find out that the kiss goes where the punch went 5. Get born again. And again. And again 6. Rebel against manicuring your body and lawn 7. Trade in your ermine for overalls 8. Fry onions and potatoes till you can’t tell the difference 9. Become your own spirit animal
SNAKE HANDLER GHAZAL You hoped looking from the smoke would help you not choke, like a child wondering, Why would Fire hurt me? Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but fonder of what? Absinthe makes the heart elongate and realign to the moon. Outside the vomitoria, teenagers get rowdy, stomping to their spooky music. They’re excited about how they think they look. The only way to say it is with a smirk: The girl is whiskey tango. You know what whiskey tango means? The girl is whiskey tango. At your first sip, the chemical reaction was audible, but barely, like the shush of a pilot light. First he claimed, I do not fight. I do not seek fights. Then when nearly a stranger he wept, I can’t not. I can’t not. We lived in the brambles behind the snake handlers, fortified by stolen wine and cold-weather orgasms. Holly, put your bindle and megaphone down, and admit
you’ll never have that much fun again. God-willing.
WEEKLY DIAGNOSTICS Monday +10% in love with you +20% in love with the rosebud sapling on the corner boasting his first pink blouse Tuesday +75% of the week since another human’s touched me Wednesday -15% vim -10% vigor +55% outbreaks of minuscule dervishes +200% threeways and highways Thursday +70% senseless acts of benevolence -15% unrequited hatred +25% clumsy joy -42% fraught joy Friday +100% rebandaging Mother’s breasts Saturday +75% compulsion +33% averting my eyes from whatever I want to look at this matter of hiding what I want what I want what I want behind the 5 ways I’m satiated Sunday +100% Likelihood that there is not enough and there never will be
Author bio: Holly Jensen’s work has appeared or is upcoming in PANK Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and Pear Noir! She is the author of “Selected Timelines: Past and Future” (Neon Books, 2014). Holly and her very mouthy cat, Little Girl, live, etc, in Cleveland.
Five poems By Puma Perl
BLACK INK CORSET KillPoet Girl and I dream of the same tattoo. We are obsessed, emailing ideas and photographs, 2AM her time, 5AM mine. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. I search for the Vonnegut passage, pause to reread his son’s tales of insanity on The Eden Express, return to Dad and Billy Pilgrim and wonder how…how…how does the universe end? I despise people who insert his words into poems without credit, redden with Shame remembering a line of my own –coffee is hot and nothing hurt… I’m unsure whether I ever finished Slaughterhouse Five. Shame, Deep Shame. Shame and Deep Shame comprise my idle sleepless mornings I check my messages. Somebody else is mad at me for something I did but he says it’s for something else, which I haven’t even done yet. But I’m sure I will. Shame. Deep Shame. I consult with KillPoet Girl and we plan a meeting on Haight Street or Avenue B, surely she can convince the East Side Ink blue-eyed guy to slip us past his sixmonth waiting list? She envisions a corset of words and images – ancient symbols, rhymes, rain forests – I no longer wear corsets, not ink, not leather, not satin, my mind constricts me more than my body ever will again. I imagine gothic letters winding up and around my arm, circling the mermaids, skulls, and tulips. A month later, KillPoet Girl meets Hot Tattoo Guy on a San Francisco doubledecker bus and they set to work in her living room, surrounded by cats and vinyl. I return to Hammerhand Nick in Greenpoint. He plays heavy metal while he works and he doesn’t really like me, but his price is right and he’s got an opening on Tuesday. I listen to Nico singing These Days on repeat, each letter just one line. We are done and I twist my arm to see the words wrapped around my skin. Everything different is the same again. Hot coffee. Everything hurts.
Editor’s Notes: “Black Ink Corset” was originally published in Retrograde, 06/14, great weather for MEDIA View the live reading of “Black Ink Corset”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGhSv8hR9wo
A - Alone This is how alone feels. Water rushing. Just the river. No deep thoughts. Meditation is for the living. Alone is not a fancy word, like solitude, implying choice. It’s just alone. You torture the alphabet naming, listing, start from A – bands you’ve seen, people you’ve fucked, song titles, poets, books….Days pass or are they nights? Obsessively you name and list, name and list, remember nobody you loved and everything you hurt, nothing that you know and everything you learned, bleeding wounds and memories, good times hide behind Z, maybe if you count, count like a child leaving the bus, how many steps to safety, how many steps to home, your key sticks in the lock, don’t know why they never oiled it, this is what you know, safer to stick to the bands A =Aerosmith, never saw the Beatles, B=Blondie, C=Cramps, but even this proves dangerous, you remember the night,
who was there, what you did, now they’re gone, back to alone, water rushing, just the river, just the river. Alone does not make you self-sufficient. You just get by as best you can.
Editor’s Notes: “A – Alone” was originally published in Retrograde, 06/14, great weather for MEDIA View the live reading of “A –Alone”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_437U4_SjVE
& I’m still losing 20 yrs since I shot my last speedball & I’m still losing teeth. When I got clean they told me Do the right thing, the right thing will happen. This is our last chance. Every day is our last chance. Why waste hours shaking in the freezer, talking to the loveless, waiting, waiting like Pietri’s Olga…. like Miguel…. Monday through Thursday My first words are Oh Shit Another day of being lucky enough to have a job No benefits. Holes in my mouth. They could have been saved.
I could have been saved. That’s what I believedjumping from Central Park boulders, boyfriends kissing wet bloody palms over grilled cheese sandwiches. Quartered. Good Humor pops looked better than they tasted Me-tasting as good as I looked. Believing I’d be saved. Hell cost $100 a day. Heaven escaped me. There is no safety in dreams, knives, noise or spirits. & most days I’m still losing… Who fills these holes with gold, free for the asking? Easy as jumping. off rocks. Boulders. Buildings wait for bad days. It takes 17 minutes to drink a hot cup of light sweet coffee eat a cheese danish, smoke a Marlboro. It never gets better than that. Editor’s Note: View the live reading of “& I’m Still Losing”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxyPA0Yy_hM
CONEY ISLAND SATURDAYS: A PANTOUM Sky breaks and falls I turn to him Do you remember Coney Island Saturdays? We danced on the boardwalk I turn to him Lips pressed against his back We danced on the boardwalk It never rained, not once Lips pressed against his back Unmoving, It never rained, not once My words, like lightning Unmoving, Except for the thunder My words, like lightning Crackle and burn Except for the thunder Morning sounds Crackle and burn Dream Morning sounds Do you remember Coney Island Saturdays? Dream Sky breaks and falls
Editor’s Note: View the live reading of “CONEY ISLAND SATURDAYS: A PANTOUM”: “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOfePJLV7gg
DECISIONS I decided to wear black lace but changed my mind It was a summer afternoon or maybe late evening A man in a hat sat at the bar I decided to smile He ignored me The next night I wore black lace The man in the hat returned You’ve got some style he whispered in my ear I decided to drink a chocolate egg cream They gave me vanilla A red Harley passed by Two guys asked for a dollar I gave five to the short one Couldn’t pay for the egg cream The man in the hat drank it all and walked away Nothing was free but his frown I left town with his friend He wore a different hat and had no money but he drove a nice car right into a tree The tree wasn’t hurt so we got on the train He bought me a ticket I gave him a book of naked pictures He remembered my left tit I decided to go home Trails of torn lace showed me the way Forget them, said Madeline They’re a bunch of bad hats The red Harley pulled up A short guy gave me ten bucks Thanks, he said and rode off.
I drank a chocolate egg cream. I decided to wear black lace. Maybe it was midnight.
Editor’s Notes: “Decisions” was originally published in The Understanding Between Foxes and Light, great weather for MEDIA, 2013 View the live reading of “Decisions”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsYOvwmmWHc
Author bio: Puma Perl is a widely published poet and writer, as well as a performer and producer. She is the author of two chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections, knuckle tattoos, and the recently published Retrograde, (great weather for MEDIA press. Her newest venture is Puma Perl’s Pandemonium, which launched at the Bowery Electric in 2012 and brings spoken word together with rock and roll. As Puma Perl and Friends, she performs regularly with a group of excellent musicians. She was the photographic editor of the anthology, Slices of the Apple, and many of her photos have used for CD covers, and artists’ bios. A comprehensive list of video links and updates on events can be found on her blog: http://pumaperl.blogspot.com/. Her latest book can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003VODDBK, and previous works can also be purchased at erbacce press: http://erbacce-press.com/#/puma-perl/4531745901
Fetal II/Siddartha Beth Pierce
Five poems By Joan McNerney
Meteorologist One summer when only seven, she heard thunderstorms bursting through skies, watched lightening slash bright Zâ€™s across night. Later she studied for hours currents of mercurial storms and cloud formations. Stratus, altostratus, cirrus, cumulus fell swiftly from her lips. Some places burned with rings of blistering winds sweeping across the desert. Rains rammed houses downstream on the plains. Northern ice bashed trees breaking power lines. Her desire was to understand grand forcesâ€Ś tornado, hurricane, drought, blizzard. Calculating air currents, moisture, heat or cold indices to predict the atmosphere. Moods of the sky master puzzled her. She only knew what she did not know. Why this same force creates rainbows yet pummels whole towns with its fists?
Pharmacist She thought of herself as a modern alchemist. Fluent in an arcane language about the composition of so many minute capsules. The rest of the store could be in a gas station or bargain store. Filled with candies, lip sticks, other frivolous items.
If you simply had a cough, syrup could be found on aisle three. Her area was sacred to patients, those with serious ailments. Filling prescriptions navigating insurance companies, seeking authorizations. Always aware of side effects, multiple drug reactions, possible allergic problems. Austere yet approachable, she dispensed heroic potions from her prized domain as chemical priestess.
Word Processor Margie often thought words just spilled through her fingers. It was all learned so long ago by touch typing in school. Then she was thrilled by winning an over ninety-words-a- minute prize. Margie was sure to transcribe important documents. She finished the form letter. Now what must be remembered was paragraph three goes with addressee list five. Section seven contains financial disclosure which only went to top list number one. Someone would check it. Technological advances had replaced people. Equipment never felt sick or required holidays, vacations, breaks. Much more cost effective.
Margie wanted to close her eyes against this flood of words. Shut her ears against the pounding of machines, sighs of other operators.
The Waitress Sally thought everything was up to luck and she had zero. Her chances got swept away with yesterday's trash. Every day working in this dumpy dinner slinging hash. There were the regulars who knew her name and left good tips. They had no place else to go. Her feet swelled up at the end of lunch rush. Sally wiped tables filling ketchup bottles, salt shakers, sugar jars while staring out the window at pulsing rain. Waiting a half hour for the bus, winds tangling her hair. She stopped at the market to bring a few groceries home. Struggling now to open her door, only cold rooms would greet her.
The Teacher She hoped some would leave, rise above dirty factory gates past plumes of smoke spewing from the cement plant.
Occasionally when discussing great American novels, the walls shook. Ravines were blasted for more rocks to crush into powder. She wished they would not become clerks for soul-less chain stores or cooks in fast food joints where smells of burning grease lingered. What was the use of teaching literature and poetry to these children who would soon grown listless? Their spirits grinded down like stones in the quarry. Author bio: Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Camel Saloon, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Spectrum, and included in Bright Hills Press, Kind of A Hurricane and Poppy Road Anthologies. She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net. Poet and Geek recognized her work as their best poem of 2013. Four of her books have been published by fine small literary presses and she has three e-book titles.
Sublimis II/Siddartha Beth Pierce
Two poems By Jessica L. Walsh
Installation of the Artful Dead On a pass to visit the lovely dead whose scent is earth glazed red in the fire and earth planted green in the mist a man unstrings
hamstrung by ghost soldiers
He twitches on cobble froths himself feral eyes roll to dear god Space forms rectangular like family at graveside but lifeside and strangers Wasn’t it pretty the flowers the quiet Wasn’t it nice until that man’s fit and now oh it’s so awful to think back on it Such a shame when we waited so long I’ll swing by tomorrow We’ll talk over muffins and go through the photos Revision I will bring pie
Moon Tourist At the bottom of the moon is a navel mapped as Tycho crater. Still: the chance of new fruit born as flower hangs ripe before travelers. They burn through skies to partake half sure the gates behind them wonâ€™t open again. They have punched a calamity clock to fling themselves wonder-ward. But first they endured the worst of earth. That airport is like all the others, coated with sodium and din. The agents take tickets and answer with blessed knowing they will go nowhere but home which remains a home on earth. Author bio: Jessica L. Walsh is a poet and community college professor living in the Chicago suburbs. She has two chapbooks out, Knocked Around and The Division of Standards. She has recently completed the manuscript for her first book. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and received several awards. Most recently, she received second place in the 2014 Gwendolyn Brooks Award for Illinois Emerging Writers. Her website is jessicalwalsh.com. When she's not writing or grading papers, she is having meaningful conversation with her second-grade daughter Stella, who is well qualified to run the world.
She/Siddartha Beth Pierce
Four poems By Kika Dorsey
The Crows Â The crows have stolen all my quarters. Snow falls on the garden. I am dressed in blue. You are yellow. The crows do not like me. They dive down from spruce and peck my head. They want my earrings, golden hoops of sun. They want my dream of light. The crows cawed three times above my house and my father died. The crows showed me how to bury the dead. The crows know how to fish with twigs. But the river is frozen. You do not see the crows. You are staring at the ground. Your mansion sits on top of the mountain. The crows have stolen my wealth. The crows have taken the box of light. They drop it and it shatters into sun, moon, and stars. I fear my fatherâ€™s corpse will freeze and never disappear. You build snowmen. The crows peck through the clouds. I look up. You look down. The crows eat the dead. We live and die in the land of blood and bone, land of coins and crops, land of abandoned nests and my pockets are empty, my father is dead,
the sun shatters the sky and drinks its waters, and the crows will land in the snow, black as the rich soil of graves.
The Spaceship We are building a spaceship. Its walls are white and the carpet a beige shag, with two wooden chairs facing each other in the corner. There are no beds. Where will we sleep? I ask. You are dressed in blue, and the desert stretches outside but we can’t see it through the stained-glass window. We won’t sleep. I step out the door. Beneath my feet are sand and cacti that raise their hands in surrender. A starling flies from a sage bush and lands on my shoulder. You join me and take my hand. The runway isn’t long enough, you say. I peer into the light at the cleared stretch of dust. A rattlesnake slides and wiggles sideways across it and the starling nibbles at my neck. But we have to go, I say. We can’t. You throw a stone at a prickly pear. I had crafted that window, glued the colored glass into an image, Madonna in a white gown holding baby Jesus who reaches for her golden halo while the prophets kneel at her feet. But now we won’t be able to see the black space punctured by stars. I say we need to build another window. You say we need to clear more runway, tear out the sage and cacti. The starling will not leave me. Its claws clutch my blouse, scratching my shoulder. Its brown feathers blend with the dust and the sun slumps across the Western sky. If only I could see in the dark.
Swine Sacrament Vodka was the sunshine in my belly. Its rays I drank to dry the storms and push the clouds like a farmer pushes a wheelbarrow of shit from the pigs’ pens. I dumped pigs in dreams, in trembling nerves, and the waste piled higher, and the neighbors complained, and I couldn’t hear the children anymore, and I tore apart curtains, body naked, drinking vodka, eating pork. Goddess Nut of Egypt is painted under the lid of my coffin, where I smeared my death in transparent booze and painted the toilets the yellow of vomit and ate from the landfills along railroad tracks. She was sky goddess of the night, her piglets stars. She was desert, fertile Nile her nemesis, and the swineherds fed the pigs by hand but Osiris took the throne. He was the man with handcuffs like fool moons and my hands could no more enter my temples of pig and shit and shining stars. I drove through windows. I swayed when there was no wind. I slept on plastic mats in jails. The temples were owned by green-skinned Osiris who flooded the rivers and judged the dead. Then Jesus stole his throne in the endless church talk of AA but Nut’s desert never had its say and the swine grew wild, still I swayed, and I drank the fruit of cacti and collected snake skins, swine gorged on fields of wheat and I ate all their meat, and my wine turned to blood, only one man rose from his grave and the cops slit the swineherd’s throats, stars circled the sky like drunken dreams like pigs left to rot behind bars of waning moons.
Daughter of Sokotei It was only because she was hungry that she ate the jar of peanut butter and potato chips while her husband slept and her daughters made love to strangers. He had bought the potion from Ivonya-Ngia, “he who feeds the poor,” and he smeared it on her canines as he was told from the god who lived in the castle. He believed the magic of his vows would weave a golden future. She began to grow. Her skin thickened like clay and became as gray as the ashes of their fires, body rounding as the moon. Her teeth became tusks, her nails thick and yellow, her nose reaching always for the next meal, the food her mother denied to her, always portioning out ugali among the eleven children. On television they told of frozen pizza and one-dollar hamburgers and French fries. There were Toyotas they couldn’t afford and women with breasts like balloons, skinny like she had been when she rode bicycles up and down the hills of the city. There were creams with serums that would smooth her face like the skin of apples and lawyers who would earn her a million if hit by a truck. Kinonya-Ngia told them to sell her tusks, the ivory as white as the bread she ate in handfuls, he told her to work but she never went to school and it shackled her like the goats that waited for the rain to come. The brown couch collapsed under her enormous body, and when the sun set the whiskey pushed her further into its confines. Her husband pleaded with her. He said the jeep needed tires. He said he gave up sheep and cows for her tusks. He said his back ached from lifting bricks.
He said the bills, the bills. He was always talking about the bills. He said her tusks would bring gold. But she was pregnant again. At the clinic they smeared her belly with gel and she watched the tiny heart beat, its blinking light like the wink of eye. She came home and ate stale bread with strawberry jam and bags of Doritos and she fried the bright, red meat that made her think of all the blood she gave. He ate the meat she cooked and stared at the floor, where ants carried crumbs and the baby crawled, circling his chair. He did not love her, and she heard voices that told her to leave, to sleep by the river and give birth to the children of the new tribe, elephants of silver, of nomads like soldiers, of rhizomes that spread, roots of body expanding. She made love under bridges, under trees, in the soft grass of parks where the other wild people roamed with her, under billboards of faces and bright pastel clothes. But the poachers would always find her children. They would tear off the tusks with saws and leave the bodies to the soil. Her daughters who survived would live in the zoos of foster homes after she gave birth to them under the angry gaze of doctors. She was always giving birth to daughters, their skin as thick as a city’s light, as gray as Sokotei and the ashen skies. Author bio: Kika Dorsey’s poetry has been published in numerous journals and books. Her articles have been published in newsletters. In 2011, she published a chapbook of poetry, Beside Herself, with Flutter Press. Kika has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington in Seattle and has taught writing, film, and literature. She has also taught poetry at Naropa University and currently teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Front Range Community College. She lives in Boulder, Colorado and has two children, a mischievous Border Collie, and a bird.
Two poems By Theresa Göttl Brightman
Red I don’t trust butterfly collectors. The word “Lepidoptery” only crowns murderers with a fancy headdress. A man behind a thick glass screen holds a yellow thumbprint of tissue and pollen pinched between his fingers, the legs twisting in black, insect terror, and he properly crushes the thorax with tweezers, sweeping that beautiful corpse into a pocket. He says: They are rare, beautiful. They can fly. They represent freedom. Sand shifts tiredly between my weighted ears. Too many desks of iron-blue lead keep me from ancient windows, and I sleep the worst kind of sleep, a sunflower burn covering the land in dry, yellow heat, the heat of red-golden flies. They are rare, beautiful. They can fly. They represent freedom. Road forks always taste of too much salt. In my left hand, I hold a heart of black ash, burnt from the earth’s mantle, burnt from the air.
In my right, I hold a heart of water, crystal but cloud-hollow and forgetful. I metamorphose. They are rare, beautiful. They can fly. They represent freedom. I wear animal skins every day, heavy with the stink of wild warmth, draped across my arms and shoulders. No one notices. My pelts are invisible. My, what golden eyes I have. All the better to look from the third floor, seeing that the ground is nearer. They are rare. My, what a long snout I have. All the better to smell the clover buds, angled death-wise toward third storey windows, warmer, and with starker arms. Beautiful. My, what pointed, grey ears I have. All the better to hear horseflies and late-August yellow jackets and wind and hands in discourse with the sky, outside, and the room, inside, no screen filtering the exchange. They can fly. My, what sharp teeth I have. All the better to sicken the love of men who prefer to carry pocketfuls of beautiful corpses. My, what a lovely tail I have. All the better to lash back and forth,
telling truths, cicada bird truths, shouted into the weeping folds of willow trees. My, what broad wings I have. All the better to leap—pinfeathers burning-from third storey windows, escaping faces covered in shrouds of brown leaves, escaping faces covered in empty opal eyes. They represent freedom. The descendants of black coal want my head, they want my legs, long and slender--legs for running, legs for deliverance-tangled in wire fencing. They want my thorax, rare and singing, crushed between a pair of tweezers. They leech from within the hollows of my hip bones and femur; first blood draws no victory when the enemy is the self. Too many of us prefer to carry pocketfuls of our own beautiful corpses. They are rare, beautiful. They can fly. They represent freedom.
The Christing of the River The muddy brown road unfurled her tongue at the feet of the little green river god, and the tiny, yellow spider— barely a sun-speck— covers dusty altars in animal skins, paying his dues and respects to the little green river god.
Broken flashlights make dizzy the maple helicopters while the little green river god goes questing for vision angels in motor oil and coffee. And the voices say: Thank you, Mister President, Thank you, Mister Senator. Ankle-deep in the eddies, little green river god looks up with casino token eyes, into crabapple blossoms and Christmas bulbs— antique chipped colors— watching faces lapse in the glass globes. Little green river god, do you hear the hatred trumpets, busting snow from the sky? I pray you packed your passport. This is no miner’s town. These people breathe generations of salt rock steel mill acid rain, but not you. Not you. And the voices say: We thought this was all about the jobs. No. Stop. You weren’t paying attention. Three-sided segments of mirror and orange fragments of headlamp-shatter replace the acorn caps and birch-bark scrolls that used to tile the floors in the house of the little green river god. Little green river god, you will never leave. You need these lands. You need the thankless hands that scar your home. And the voices say: Thank you, Madam Representative, Thank you, Mister Governor.
Little green river god runs out of time for wild asparagus and recess jump rope chanting. And the voices say: I thought this was supposed to be easy. No. Stop. You weren’t paying attention. The black-eyed Susans cry themselves white while the cattails dance their farewell waltz— a triolet rhythm, left-right-left, left-left-right, left-right— at the threshold of the little green river god. The red-winged blackbird sang today: a springtime dirge for the little green river god, a springtime dirge in a shiny, plastic cathedral. And the voices say: Thank you, Mister Senator, Thank you, Mister Governor. Little green river god can’t stay long with our seismic testing and our geolithic lies. Little green river god, you’d better run. And the voices say: Dear Mister… No. Stop. You weren’t paying attention. The voices say: Thank you for your letter concerning… No. Stop. You weren’t paying attention. The voices say: To date, there is still no scientific evidence that…
No. Stop. You weren’t paying attention! The horsemen don’t ride black stallions anymore. They drive fleets of semis, fifteen desert-pink cabs, with “Well Services” and “Oilfield Equipment” stenciled on their sides. They recline in the driver’s seat, but still wearing white, or red, or black, still bearing pestilence, war, and famine. Their cigarettes never burn to the filter. Little green river god, you’d better run. And the voices say: Thank you, Mister President, Thank you, Mister Governor. No. Stop. You need to start paying attention, before there is no more green, no more rivers, and no more gods.
Author bio: Theresa Göttl Brightman has published two chapbooks--"A Hurricane of Moths" and "Angels and Copper"--and a full-length collection, Stretching the Window. She has been published in various online and print publications--most recently, Words Dance--and has received writing awards from the City of Ventura, CA, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and The University of Akron. She currently lives in Akron, OH with her writer husband and their fluffy, green bird.
Two poems By Ruth Sabath Rosenthal
Family Photos Locked away, a photo-trail of one woman’s failed marriage. She’d first packed up the snapshots, intact, after learning her husband, a shrink, had a love life outside their bedroom, in an adjacent soundproofed room he had the gall to call office, on a couch, on which he had many women going nuts for him, including, she’d heard tell, a patient or two. One paramour, turned wife, turned out to be in dire need of patience married to him. During their separation, that (second) wife may well have reconfigured her family photos, too, and with a cuticle scissor, as well: Taking great pains not to nip the children, she’d cut out her soon-to-be ex’s heads and flushed them down the toilet, leaving the children smiling up at a hole-for-a-face, she, looking wholly pleased. And, after the divorce, she’d cut the faceless bodies out and tossed them into a trashcan (along with a sealed envelope full of negatives), the children left leaning on a slew of missing father figures, she, with her arms around nothing. And, like wife number one, not at all surprised if there’s a poop-load of
similarly doctored photos buried deep in a score of women’s drawers, evidence the psycho-shrink, one way or another, was fully eliminated.
Lilith Offering Adam a Long-Awaited Explanation Here it is in a nutshell: It hurt like the devil when I figured out you’d been a die-hard prick from the get-go for not allowing me to flower atop your stem. Your refusal to soften your manner or change your position had me swallowing bile, biting my tongue. Playing shrinking violet in a vessel of only your delight, I found my roots twisting beyond measure. That I’d been your wife, as long as I had, still boggles my mind. Jackass that you were, getting in a few good kicks, to boot, eventually got me siding up to a snake who’d wormed his way into me by declaring he loved women on top (riding him like the stud he was!). The downside — he said kids were not fit to live with. I agreed and began making plans to leave you; that put in peril by three angels descending on me. threatening if I left you, they’d kill off the hundreds and hundreds of babies they claimed I was fated to bear in the coming years. I countered with a diabiblical twist on their threat: I’d do the killing myself — the angels conceding only after making me swear to spare newborn males wearing a talisman bearing the angels’ names. And feeling rather ballsy after making that deal, I hatched a second scheme:
I’d demonize men in their deep of sleep, turning the bulk of them into licentious prigs lusting to distraction, and the rest, further, to perversion. With score upon score of my offspring expected from these liaisons (including the three sons I bore you during our attempt at reconciliation), I’ll be carrying out my campaign for eons to come. And lest you doubt this, know that women figure perfectly in the equation: Whispering in their ears daily I encourage each to cease acting beneath men in any manner or form. As for you, and your dream of “a fit wife” (which, I remember unmercifully ribbing you about, upon leaving) the fact that she actually materialized, and right beside you as you slept, has rivaled the best of my conjurings thus far. And be honest, Adam, did you really believe you’d seen the last of me? Think about this: When Eve bit into the now infamous apple she revealed herself as the apt pupil I’d envisioned she could be. Author bio: RUTH SABATH ROSENTHAL is a New York poet, well published in literary journals and poetry anthologies throughout the U.S. and also in Canada, France, India, Israel, Italy, Romania, and the U.K. In 2006, Ruth’s poem "on yet another birthday" was nominated for a Pushcart prize. Ruth has authored 4 books of poetry: “Facing Home” (a chapbook), “Facing Home and Beyond,” “little, but by no means small” and “Food: Nature vs Nurture.” These books can be purchased from Amazon.com (USA). For more about Ruth, “google” her and please feel free to visit her website: www.newyorkcitypoet.com
Three Poems By Karen Neuberg
Ingenue Her voice waited, furled on the pages of the book in her heart. An asp appeared on the pages. Then a cottonmouth. Rattler. Viper. She spent hours with them conversing on the length of knives and swords, clashing in the matching, slashing blades of scissors. Eventually, she could uncurl her voice, shape with the cut of her voice, rise from the pages of the book, her voice unarmed, unharmed.
What Seems Solid We’re holding what seems solid enough, although we’re aware close by might be crumbling, and we quickly think cookies, which leads to a lively conversation about particles and we think strings and we think theory and we’re relishing our clever minds and congratulating ourselves, no longer necessarily thinking winners but glad to be among the placers;
and then, gradually, we become aware of the rumbling sound coming out
of everywhere and there’s no time to think it’s time to act and whatever is coming has already risen past our knees but we don’t think apocalypse for we never believed that story but somehow the word is roaring in our ears. And we think again, time to act. But we’re standing here thinking and saying it, and we’re not acting.
Editor’s Note: “What Seems Solid” was previously published in The Maynard
Money Poem Once upon a time, we dreamed the money was raining down on us like song; it was in the road, it was rolling and spinning, and blowing its way toward us. The money was laughing with the laughter of children, it was the sound that cracked open the sky between clouds, it was the lip-sync collection of oldies & goodies. Money, money, it was in our hands, it was falling from our pockets, it was the sun hats on our heads, and it was tickling us it was varying our thoughts, it was veering our steps, it was steering us toward the large, the oversize, the monolith…
and we saw only too late it was adding to the cries and the fires, the drought and the gunshots. the blasts and the pollution, and we could see the babies carried across borders by frantic parents who dreamed of the money raining down like song. Author bio: Karen Neuberg is a Brooklyn-based poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Counterexample Poetics, The Inflectionist Review, Phoebe, and Tinderbox, among others. Her latest chapbook is Myself Taking Stage (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Sheâ€™s associate editor of First Literary Review-East.
Picasso’s Felines by Siddartha Beth Pierce
Burning by Simone Keane Tonight, I just might, set alight all of my clothes Tonight, I’m painted white, a caged bird in flight, with bells on my toes And I feel like I’m floating, light as a feather, naked, disconnected And I feel like I’m walking, away from my sorrow, walking… Tonight, I just might, realise, what all this means And I feel like a runaway, feel like I’ve walked away from all my woes And I feel like it’s a new day, I finally know what to say To all my foes And I don’t need to hold no crucifix I don’t want no drugs to get my fix I’m just burning, burning All of my clothes Burning, burning Ooooh, I’m just burning All of my clothes. Author bio: Simone Keane is a singer-songwriter from Western Australia. She is the first regional songwriter to win two categories in the same year at the Western Australia Song of the Year Awards. She has released two independent CDs, “Burning” and “Moon Tunes.” Simone’s background lies in musical theatre, but life events turned her to song writing as a form of self-expression. She is a qualified English teacher and works as a volunteer for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The natural environment is one of her greatest passions, as well as her boyfriend’s dog, Bruce.
Aileen By Gina Morong Morning of day 303: The sun is a beautiful thing, ever constant and so resilient even through rusty metal links. Starting from the floor rising slowly like the Phoenix I've heard so much about, its said he will always rise, like the sun and I. So I continue to open my eyes because every day they say its closer, it never feels closer, they break promises kept to keep me distracted while they slip a note to the undertaker, waiting for the final crack. Day in day out, maybe I am crazy, much more than the monotone is killing me. I've called on the card of lunacy before, they leave the lights on through out the night, they don't allow me to read, yes all words are true but they never believed me anyway. To my disappointment they don't seem to care, nothing so far has worked. You may be confused by my musings for the relief of death, the eternal quiet when ignited is endless I just want to be there because this life is not life it is the sole witness to a sales pitch gone wrong. Badges exposed by their peers for exploiting me, I have been a dollar amount or a last resort all my life, isn't that enough? I was the violent end to every evening, I starved freezing in the trees all of you knew you all did nothing! So when looking back is it such a stretch that eventually I would yearn to push the violent stain of my existence away from myself. I was never the good girl gone bad, I was the bad girl gone radioactive! In control I would eventually begin to exorcise the thirty piece of silver such a dirty girl, trick turning nightmare I had up to then endured. I shot those men and I'd do it again! They may not themselves have assaulted me but a limit is a given and I couldn't be sold again, you all fought the description of self defense, because yes it may have been murder but it had to be done. I've had countless hours to ponder my choices and my course of action still rings true, even with this sonic pressure in my head, my food and water manipulated, tortured for my inability to be sold I, no matter what I've claimed, stand true to my conviction, and my conviction was death so gimme what I earned I'm weary from excerpts of interviews, our husbands and father's were saints regardless of the fact they were purchasing a prostitute. On the streets by 13, I had a child once and I'm sure they are beautiful! Like my life and I could have been but instead I am the villain I've been constructed and sold to be. So the next time you hear my name or see my face long after I'm gone and another life lost has taken my place, remember, if you were me you'd a done it too. Author bio: Gina writes: â€œI grew up in Omaha NE, in a rather conservative and traditional valued catholic family. I can't think of a time when I wasn't writing, I remember feeling very confined in the expectations that I felt were placed on me and the way my mind worked. I spent a lot of time traveling (possibly escaping, could be either) in my early twenties. I felt living on the road and exploring each end and everything in between of this country really opened my eyes to a lot of beauty and mystery in the world, made me feel less unheard.â€?
Musings By Regina Walker Sometimes the pain is worth it. Sometimes the right thing to do really isn't. Sometimes loss is a relief. Sometimes getting what I want is scary. Sometimes fear is a savior. Author bio: Regina Walker is a writer, photographer and psychotherapist in NYC. She is the Senior Writer for Revolution Magazine (USA).
FIVE POEMS By Lyn Lifshin
LET THE WIND CARRY ME like tumbleweed, like milkweed. Wind blown, drifting between hands. Oh she's a free spirit boys use to sing to me too, shaking their head. No one can hold her. My mother tried to, my father didn't care. Joni knew you could be so drawn and quartered. Wanting a home with candles around the door, wanting a man who'd be there to hold her and then packing in the night, eloping alone with strangeness in a short skirt and heels, fuck me shoes and a hooker sequin mini: a mask a moat only the wind catchees
ROSES, BLUE when I go back and look at those poems, its as if Joni dabbled in them. A little jazz, a blues riff. I think of the woman on the metro, sobbing I think of rain. I think of roses. Of blues my baby left me. I think of Joni's woman
with her Tarot cards and tears, of all things that did not, could not happen, more haunting than so much that did
TIN ANGEL her words are my words: "tarnishes," "beads" tapestries." I think she's my doppelganger with her letters from across the seas and her roses dipped in sealing wax. Was there something in the water those rose and butterfly years? The white rose Alan Ginsberg gave me flattened in a Shakespeare Folio before wax caked its leaves could have been one her tin angel sent. The columbine I planted in the house I'm rarely in, color of her lips, her crying. I too sat in a Bleeker St Café. I used "tarnish" over and over that year
Â the sister I never had seems to pose in clothes I swear came out of my closet. Her velvets, leather and lace. If we were frame in a gallery you might think we were twins. You can see past the hair in our faces, our haunting eyes, how we're haunting by falling for too many men, wrong men, sure we gave all our pretty years. "It's not you, it's mean," a litany that's stained both our skins. And do sisters often go after the men too many others want? Â
It was definitely California, bougainvillea breaking out like purple stars. Not Paris, not Africa. Jet lagged, coming from the snow, heat and light like a drug and my own words in the trunk. Not there from Los Vegas or a Grecian Isle but escaping lovers I could not stay with too. I didn't think anyone did the goat dance but I wish someone had a camera. I suppose we had a little wine because some
one planned what they were sure would give a sad eyed man a treat, put back his smile. Another said he had two ladies, two women he swore he'd always love, two women whose faces filled the rooms in his tiny house: posters, albums, books. It was wild. One was Joni, the other me. Warned of the surprise, the man's face went snow standing at the window. I was high on his being as happy it was me. I think they told him it would be one of us. Probably I wore madras or tie-dyed. My long hair sleek as Joni's. I was wearing my spider medallion. I wasn't used to such a shy fan, too shy to come to the door. I too was strung out on another man. I had a week or two to hang around. He wasn't the first to be afraid to talk to me at a reading, to run out before the end. All that time I thought of Joni, her songs in my hair, my own pretty strangers and the bad news of war Author bio: Lyn Lifshin’s new books include Knife Edge & Absinthe: the Tango poems; For the Roses, poems for Joni Mitchell, All The Poets Who Touched Me; A Girl goes Into The Woods; Malala, Tangled as the Alphabet: The Istanbul Poems. : Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle; Malala and Femina Eterna: Enheduanna, Scheherazade and Nefertiti. Her web site is:www.lynlifshin.com
Five poems By Patricia Carragon
Sex and the Single Poet Can sex sell poetry? A single poet reads, strips words off pages, entertains educated earlobes in a darkened room. Her words performâ€” focused like thespians, minus the monotones of most. But is anyone listening or would they had she been older, grayer, wiser, less flattering in figure, less flexible with fingers, had road maps sketched on her face and legs? Some smile, some applaudâ€” courtesies returned for wet dreams given. She leaves the podium and takes her seat. Can sex sell poetry? Only for the moment . . .
The 4-Dimensional Man The 4-dimensional man contains 4 ideas, 4 times his squared root. The 4-dimensional cat contains more ideas, but she's not telling.
Dandelion Child An umbrella spins like a kaleidoscope. A child plays tag with itâ€” raindrops tease her skin. Her smile defies the weather. She scoots across with arms raised against etiquette. The umbrella dances under rain-washed sky. The child is like a dandelionâ€” her seeds bounce like raindrops. Her sister joins inâ€” the umbrella lands upside down. Her sister hides behind the azalea bush. They forget about their wet clothes and hair, dinner, and the umbrella. Their mother watches from the kitchen window and is not amused. She taps on the glass for the girls to come inside. Her persistence synchronizes with the thunder. Then the game ends as raindrops beat down
on her daughtersâ€™ heads. The kitchen door slams and lightning breaks into a hundred forks.
PMS Pizza God hates women! Pass the chocolate to my hips, please . . . before I kill you tonight. Hormones go postal, estrogen pulls the trigger-â€“ my body is target practice for pain. But first, order me a pizza with extra cheese for my cellulite and a pepperoni phallus sliced for pleasure, because a hungry woman is dangerous when her mood swings like the reaper. PMS writes a postscript for a rendezvous with my butt. My tampon's sex drive, a Pap Smear in drag, alerts me that the salsa is ready and I want to die . . . Maybe next week, I will crave something different, like love sandwiched in mocha mousse topped with Hershey Kisses. But pass me another slice of pizza, please . . . before I kill you tonight.
BIRTHDAY THOUGHTS for my birthday, i’ve fired my breasts, my clitoris, my hormones, and the coquetry of my lips and eyes. out of routine, i bleed once a month, wear make-up, perfume, trendy tops and leggings, comb my long locks, keep the hem above my knees, but i have been severed from their sexual references. i blow out the candles, watch my thoughts mingle with smoke. i used to make wishes, but plan to say; no, do not enter, leave me alone. garbo had said it better.
Author bio: Patricia Carragon’s publication credits include BigCityLit, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, Inertia, Levure littéraire, The Long Island Quarterly, Mad Hatters’ Review, and others. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press, 2005) and Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press, 2010). She hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology.
Two poems By Maria Marrocchino
Andy Warhol died today and I began crying and running and crying and all of sudden it started raining only you said it was snowing but snow blinds you like an old man without his sunglasses so it was really raining or it could have been my eyes blue and a little green, like one of Andy’s flowers. I tried to tell you but I got distracted by all the signs and noise and cars honking and grinding, like one of Andy’s rhymes and I was still crying but then you said something and it made me laugh and we were laughing, together smiling. What was it that thing you said you told me how your mother made you sing that song about the dragonflies, like one of Andy’s smiles and I was walking along cold, my feet wet but I was laughing until I looked up at the sky and remembered that Andy was dead and I started crying again.
Blue paint is wet. I love you Walt Whitman I can only dream of your sunkist skies and cipher canyons fields of tall romantic grass, sagging moon on a glimmering surface. My fears stop me from moving forward. You’re lilac heaven will have to try hard to wake me. ATM is out of cash. But Dylan Thomas is waiting for me on a white horse, comfort in hand, sipping my orange mouth into his large tomb poems. Poems I can’t keep up with my ink getting dry. Like a crackling wheat field I’ve imagined. Lost, pair of sterling silver earrings. Color like the blankness of the city buildings that envelop me and Ginsburg once ranted about. Thick in my ears, this howling. I need another day to think about all my responsibilities,
not ready to give up my sofa, my closet space, my familiar day. It keeps me company all those lists of things I have to do. Sample sale this Saturday. Shoes that are too big for me but fit Annie Sexton perfectly. The size of my umbrella mind creeping over my soul’s chances. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll make all the important decisions. Like a Shakespearean tragedy do I honestly think I have any real choices about what happens in my life. Author bio: Maria Marrocchino is a freelance writer and producer who lives in New York City. She has been writing poetry since the age of 12. Her poetry has been published in SNR Review Poetry Journal, Main Street Rag and the book Winged Victory: Transcending Breast Cancer. Her stories have also been published in The Sun Literary Magazine, Dazed & Confuzed, Platinum, Nylon and City magazines.
Two poems By MD Marcus
Vultures stinking rotting carcass discarded disregarded swarming until life’s departed descending unrelenting picking away decaying remains juicy vitals splattered stains identity unknown the bloodless heap will no longer atone spirit long surrendered nothing left but a few gnawed bones
two dead birds
struggling for breath, I will my head to think of anything else— perfectly formed calves, rhythmic footstrike clapping hard pavement, musical obscenities
screaming at unsafe decibels, rushing winds making sweat sticky and cool black bird motionless in the street feathers dull from exhaust and grit cause, unobservable at a bounding glance still— undeniably dead a quickened stride uninterrupted round a sidewalk’s bend reveals ants feasting, frenzied, full pulsing in a dark fluid mass gray bird their unwitting guest of honor instinctive recoil echoes my disgust creating space much larger than what is necessary to avoid the sickening heap two dead birds on one short run. must be an omen, a symbol, from the universe or just coincidence stumbling over uneven pavement I’m jolted back outside my head, and realize I am back exactly where I began Author bio: MD Marcus is a freelance writer and poet living in the distant past. Recent work can be found on Salon as well as in Calliope Magazine, The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society, In-Flight Literary Magazine, The Round Up, and the Red Dashboard Publishing anthology, “dis-or-der.” Please read everything she writes, follow/like her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and visit her at mdmarcus.com.
Four poems By Sally Burnette
The Ride Home The rattling womb doors of the subway release my headphone-deafened brethren back into concrete sea at 81st St., walls of the station swelling with mosaic hummingbird and coelacanth and ostrich and ant and ant and whale a memory: knelt on corpses of currachs that splintered the unforgiving shore of Inis Mór, I threw pebble after pebble into the Atlantic toward Cill Rónáin a light at port blinking blue the same blue I see now I ripped from memorial delirium by closing doors the whale’s tail shining flattened I grab a pole to brace for the next launch through the depths and something about that cold induces the same pulpy sickness I felt my first time in an anatomy lab when I held a femur with my bare hand... I’m a veteran of the United States Army, I look up to find a blind eye pulsing inches from my face, and I just need something to eat cerulean tissue in the stroma of his iris folded Anything helps please God bless you like thin ribbed gills underneath a mushroom’s cap, God bless you sclera speckled like a sea trout limp in a netted mass grave Have a good night I look down At the mouth of 116th and Frederick Douglass yolk sunset spreads across sky’s azure albumen pierces even through my lids entoptic vining shadows of blood vessels incubating fraternal twin globes of vitreous humor and ligament and I think I feel a second set of eyes twitch as if trying to use my body were two souls one mine one ancestral one guiltily indifferent one— No man at all can be living forever, but must we be satisfied?
Death in Durham Sixty year old poet Abner (last name withheld) was found dead Tuesday morning in his Durham, North Carolina home. According to the woman who found him, his former neighbor, Mrs. Barbara Jones, 65, “I seen him slumped over and when I call and he says nothing, I run up to him and it’s this big, like, flesh-hole in his front... but he’s not, not bleeding, he’s got strips of paper sort of peeling out...”
The cause of death is not yet clear, but the autopsy report states that his stomach contained a personal copy of his latest (and reportedly most scandalous) collection, due to appear this coming year. Prompted by his untimely death, the poet’s publisher (name withheld) has decided to release this collection as soon as possible.
THIS IS A DISTRICT LINE TRAIN TO EALING BROADWAY A woman In the rubble of Kingston was born a salty red wreck on a paper church floor Armoured Athena from Zeus’s marble skull Now THE NEXT STATION distributing copies of The Watchtower hand to hand to be discarded later on the sidewalk or plastered to piss-soaked phone booths IS TOWER HILL she watches a group of young girls, ALIGHT HERE giggling white rose cheekbone reliefs slashed into being with the beak of a Hyde Park swan that paddled through coagulated garbage looking for his Leda FOR THE TOWER OF LONDON PLEASE MIND THE GAP The woman ascends the wet stairs to take her place at the mouth of the Tube, targeting tourists and people who stop BETWEEN THE TRAIN AND THE PLATFORM to grab an Evening Standard Sir, do you have a moment to talk about Jesus Christ
An Anxiety The woman stepped down from the damp curb and partially onto what felt like, through her shoe, a mealy apple or a baby’s head. The thought surprised her (where is the rest of the baby?) as it was atypically macabre. And because she felt the uncanny possibility—she looked up at the sun, a white ball galvanizing grey sky—that it really could be either, she kept her eyes up. And what did it mean that she believed this, the possibility that, to her, what she had just encountered was just as likely to be a baby’s decapitated head as a discarded apple? Perhaps it could be both, she thought further, listening to the object skitter back over a leafy puddle on the concrete. After all, is a baby’s head really that much different from an apple? Both cry when squeezed, I imagine... And it
was at the moment of this thought that she was struck with a guttural sort of anxiety accompanied by an image: the hazy-faced head of a baby with a slice removed to reveal a wet core dotted with seeds. The anxiety fizzed in her throat and chest; she returned home to exorcise herself of this horrible, sublime thing. And so she drew. Line after line stacked against her, each one always already a shadowy fragment of her whole, precious idea. But no matter how she shaded or corrected, the picture was flat and fleshless, morbidâ€”unlike the unslaked orb glowing inside her own skull, so hot her optic nerves combusted as if to punish her for not looking back, not seeing what was actually there. Or perhaps, her brain expressed itself most authentically in threads of smoke inking from her irises... Author bio: Sally Burnette is an MFA candidate at Emerson College. Recent poetry has appeared in Futures Trading, Sein und Werden, and Melancholy Hyperbole and is upcoming in The Great American Poetry Show.
Three poems By Erin Reardon
Wisdom They say a lot of things In songs, in rhymes Warning you against girl-friends with doll-eyes Against artists of any kind Girls who wear metaphorical foundation Are bound to crack like icicles Her body never lied Nor could time conceal The pink lines around her ankles Left her tethered to bedtime stories With knights and princes and sprightly angels Now I lay me down to sleep They say a lot of things Like this is not a game A lady knows to stay well-schooled in charm and earnestness And always, always plays her hand closest to the breast The King of Clubs; he battered you King of Diamonds; always fell through King of Spades; he buried you The King of Hearts; you never knew Anyhow, You only go all-in for a Joker They say a lot of things In magazines and biopics About construction and destruction Warning you against cheap women Who drink liquor Hike their skirts up as distraction, but... You catch more flies with fish oil, honey Then you ever will with saccharine.
poem I need a hole in my head Like I need a dick in the bed. Be! Rate me. You're honor. Able. Observational Humoring me. (For non-judgmental, you make one Hell of a jury) I'm hopeful again. That I will be. & The next she-wolf will like the cut of your ribs. She'll click. OFF. Impossible List En List Less. And I hope that it hurts. Not long...now. That it hurts you, not me. Just enough to make you human. In knots.
The superhero "Who." Pepper sprayed the moon after he'd hung it. Up.
Broken Biology I have lost my mothering instinct When I incubated creativity and the birth of words gave a throbbing release A chemical placenta Caustic to the taste There is no shortage of bullshit In the way my spinning head feels A blackening across my jaw. clenched tightly If I am silent, I am dishonest If I say too much, I'll lose too much And there goes my old comrade isolation Slithering like tears An intestinal worm But I am my own parasite I said this into the mouth of one tequila bottle Kissed it hard Teeth, tongue and all I'm not in it to win it anymore I'm in it for the heartache because the heartbreak is what I know best My body rattles cartilage like throwing bones Only literally Never one for lucky number lotteries Only snake eyes and venomous bites I thought I could suck out a remedy if I sucked him hard enough This is a fool's game An adolescent's way to frolic I should know better than to think so highly I am the colicky fetus Breech baby never should have made it out alive Never should have survived whatever kind of rapture this is
Now I'm told that I should be saving daylight Swaddling moments and memories How precious When I know that all of my clocks Are broken biology. Author bio: Erin Reardon is a sometimes poet from Boston, MA. She has
been published in various litzines and was a featured reader at the first ever Zygote in My Fez in Toledo, OH.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik/Dorothea Margaret Tanning
Two poems By Emmeline Don’t call me a pretty girl I’ve seen their hair Thick, luscious curls rolling right down to there Pixie cuts, bobs, up-dos, layers and fringe And they’d split of their souls just to keep up the ends Don’t call me a pretty girl I’ve seen their eyes Jewel tones rimmed in black Lashes dipped for beguiling Ice blue and green, hazel, violet and brown But they glitter only when the spotlight shines down Don’t call me a pretty girl Pretty’s a dearth No dressing on salad; no bun on the burger And hold the pickles, lettuce, tomato and fries If you are what you eat, pretty’s empty inside And don’t call me “hot” I was hotter before When every last dinner went straight to the toilet Lunch came up so the size of my dress could go down Breakfast was only digested so I could keep testing like more than a pretty girl ‘Cause Ana’s a best friend to walk the shortest road to death with But intelligence is a lasting investment Don’t call me a pretty girl Pretty’s a half-witted frivolous flight without landing I leave an impact I shatter the standard, defy archetypes Gender roles are a guideline But I’m going outside See I am much more than a pore-less face Glossy lips, glittery eyes and a gentle grace I am a blaze And I may be abrasive sometimes My mouth shoots like a gun But I get shit done And I still have the time to put food on the table Don’t call me a pretty girl Buy a syllable
Blow dirt off your dusty thesaurus and tell me I’m beautiful Call me compassionately full of hope Talented, capable, flawlessly sewn Together by the strength of my stitches See, I’ve had my seams pulled apart But I’m not losing inches My dreams just keep growing And I will accomplish them all I’m determined to unearth potential and tear down the walls That divide me from pretty girls everywhere ‘Cause I might be fond of mascara and curly hair But I’m confident in much more than I wear See, it’s not the dress It’s about how you dance in it And it’s not the height of the heels It’s about how you stand in ‘em And the mirror? You can let it enslave you, or you can command it Don’t call me a pretty girl Pretty’s a child’s word Girls are just buds on the rosebush I am a blossoming woman of substance And I don’t need you to call me anything I know what I’m worth.
A Response to Mrs. Jenkin’s First Grade Penpal Project, Translated from Arabic Dear Katy, You spoke of your mom. Here we say “Ummi.” I used to watch Ummi write Lines in the dust on the floor with her fingers. She said she was counting the days without bombs. I said oh that makes sense. When the bombs came Boom boom pow with puffs of gray and orange-red She would scratch out the lines and start over. I like your picture of a child holding puffs of blue-pink on a paper cone
I think maybe we just need a really big paper cone. Then we could hold the gray-orange puffs high in the air So they could make friends with the clouds And they’d never want to come down. The hot would stay in the sky And the homes would stay on the ground. Ummi would’ve run out of space on the floor for her lines And she could’ve come out and play instead. When blood falls in the dirt it makes balls of red dough covered in cinnamon But it doesn’t bake like pita It bakes like clay, hard in the light of the sun and the heat of the house And the surface shines Bright gold in the day and pearl white at night. Ummi is jewels on the floor now. They took her body away in a big white bag But we still have five lines and twelve dots Like a broken necklace And a jagged reddish mirror in the middle of the floor I see the sky in her when I come home to the hot on the ground. When I get close enough, I see me too. People say one day I’ll grow up to look just like Ummi But I hope not. Your friend, Amal Author bio: Emmeline is a poet, writer, and musician based in Dallas, TX. A proud graduate of Scripps College, Emmeline strives to bring female voices to life in prose and verse--either set to melody, or sung against the silence. She performs regularly in listening rooms across the southwest. Learn more about her musical journey at http://www.emmelinemusic.com or follow her literary musings at http://www.emmelinemusic.com/blog.
Blowing the Foghorn on Domestic Violence - because a whistle isn’t loud enough
By Simone Keane I approached the counter at the welfare office. The man looked me with derisive contempt. I had fourteen stitches in my forehead and two black eyes. I told him I was a school teacher, that my boyfriend had attacked me, and due to my injuries, I was unable to do my job for a while. My voice was shaky. I was on the verge of tears. This was the first time I had told anybody about my predicament. I asked him if I could get some financial assistance. He condescendingly informed me that my injuries would not interfere with my ability to teach. I had hit rock bottom. I had nowhere to go. I had no money. I had left most of my belongings behind when I had fled. I screamed “Why can’t anybody help me?” It was a cry that broke a deafening silence, a silence far greater than the stale interior of the welfare office. Sadly, my story is not unique. In fact it happens all the time. It’s accepted as the norm in some communities. Domestic violence is shrouded in silence. To ask about a woman’s bruising is taboo. To care too much is too hard. To call the police when the neighbours are fighting isn’t the neighbourly thing to do. Men too suffer from partner abuse; however, this edition is about women, so the focus here shall be on violence against women. A recent study has found that domestic violence, mainly against women and children, kills far more people than wars and costs the world economy more than $8 trillion a year. “For every civil war battlefield death, roughly nine people…are killed in interpersonal disputes,” Anke Hoeffler of Oxford University and James Fearon of Stanford University wrote in their study. Their paper, Conflict and Violence shows that the cost of interpersonal violence, harsh child discipline, intimate partner violence and
sexual abuse represent 11% of worldwide GDP. They surmised that the types of violence that are most costly are ones that attract less attention. This is just the financial costs. For much of my young adult life, I was jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, over and over. Into the arms of another violent partner. I attracted these men like sharks to a seal. They could smell the scent of my vulnerability a mile away. I’ve been hit with bottles, shoes, threatened with knives, forks. I’ve had my face rubbed into the dirt; I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been pushed into walls or onto concrete floors. I’ve been ordered to sleep in a dog kennel. I’ve been sexually assaulted. I’ve had my head split open; I’ve had my nose broken. The perpetrators had common traits. They were all insecure and they all wanted to see me break. They wanted to have complete power and control over me. They were all good looking, charming and charismatic. Butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths in public. Behind closed doors was a different story. A nightmare. When I couldn’t take any more (victims of abuse build up an unhealthily high tolerance to abuse), I fled to a women’s refuge while he was at the pub. I was injured. I knew he would expect sex when he got home and that if I didn’t give in to him, there would be trouble. I couldn’t bear any more. I made the decision to start a new life. To reinvent myself. I know that some people, those that know me, will be shocked upon reading this. I am a wellknown musician in the picturesque coastal town where I now live. I have won awards for my song writing abilities. I teach kids. They love to hear me sing. I escaped to this picturesque coastal town thinking I had left the scars of domestic violence behind me. I pretended it hadn’t happened. I was a different person now. I had built up my sense of self-worth enough to the point where I could stand up to anybody who disrespected me. But I did it all alone. I resurrected a sinking ship with my own two hands. And it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I drowned in loneliness. I met a series of misogynists, control freaks, ego maniacs. I wasn’t quite there yet. My intentions for myself were good, but I kept attracting the wrong guy. I could glam myself up and sing to an audience, but I couldn’t find my real voice. I was hiding something. I felt like a pretender. I was drinking too much. I was overdosing on sleeping tablets. I was still running from the truth. I wanted people to understand me, but at what cost? I was well aware of the shame and stigma surrounding domestic violence, that women are blamed more often than not for putting up with it. I was suffering from post-traumatic stress. My body was still in ‘flight’ mode, and worst of all, I was silencing myself. Thank goodness times are changing. Thank goodness the barnacles of shame and silence are being chipped off the sinking ship that is domestic violence. It could have been left under the sea forever, never to be touched by anybody. People could have continued to mind their own business. A man is the king of his castle right? How dare anybody judge how a man treats his family, his lover? He owns them right? Well, once upon a time, in lah lah land.
Communities are becoming acutely aware of the ripple effect domestic violence has. It starts behind closed doors. However, over time it seeps out into other peoples’ lives, flooding schools with dysfunctional children, cascading into the work place, onto the streets. The crime rate increases. There is depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, social isolation and the list goes on, a king tide of problems. A counsellor explained to me that women who had spent most of their lives with violent partners were more likely to develop diseases such as cancer due to their bodies being in a continual state of stress. It was toxic. Even in this quiet seaside town, with its shiny white yachts gliding across the harbour, there are hidden secrets. Submerged, battered ships. Most people pretend nothing is hiding there under the glassy surface. But the truth is inevitably dredged up. Some high profile people are perpetrators. And some high profile people are victims. Nobody wants their image of these people shattered. Nobody wants to know that the talented guitarist in their favourite band is a wife beater. Nobody wants to know their real estate agent suffers verbal abuse on a daily basis. Nobody wants to know their receptionist is sexually abused at least once a week. Some victims, when they speak out, are asked, “What did you do to provoke it?” And the silence continues. Nobody wants to rock the boat. The blokes continue to enjoy a beer together on a Friday after work, knowing that one of them is beating his girlfriend. Or the fans gather to watch their favourite local musician perform, knowing he subjects his wife and children to systematic abuse. And the real estate agent continues to inspect her properties, checking over happy households, with happy photographs of happy families propped upon mantles. The picturesque coastal town carries on its daily business. Many people believe that if women like myself really wanted to leave abusive partners, we would. We are blamed for not leaving. It sounds easy enough, just grab a suitcase, and leave. Disappear. The reality is different. Often, victims are brainwashed into thinking they are worthless after long term systematic abuse. Their self-esteem is so low they can’t even think straight. Some are convinced they are crazy. They are more often than not, physically and mentally exhausted, completely broken down. The truth is often so awful to accept that many victims are in denial about the seriousness of the situation. Some women have nowhere to go. They have no financial support. Friends and family have given up on them. Personally, I didn’t feel I had a right to show my suffering to people, because part of me believed it was my own fault, for triggering his anger, for staying with him. I thought there must be something terribly wrong with me, that I was a ‘difficult’ woman. And then there are some victims who are too petrified to take a step out the door. They forgot what freedom looked like years ago.
All too frequently, domestic/family/partner violence is hidden. Perpetrators are protected in the name of love, in the name of mateship, in the name of keeping up appearances. I even resorted to wearing a concealing powder over my bruises to protect us both from public shame. I didn’t want to upset my family, my work colleagues, my students. So I feigned a smile everywhere I went. I even justified the violence by allowing myself to believe that perhaps I deserved it, as my boyfriend had consistently pointed out, “You made me do it. You’re too argumentative. You’re so irritating. You’re so demanding. If you stopped looking at other guys.” I admit, I looked at other men occasionally; not in a lustful way, but in a yearning way, imagining that maybe one of them might break the awful spell and rescue me with true love’s kiss. We’d sail off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Get the picture. Broken women need help. Their abusers need to be held accountable. It takes courage to stand up to a perpetrator of domestic violence. But their crimes will continue as long as they are allowed to continue. If these men know they can get away with the abuse, that people will continue to turn the other way, then the violence will continue, and escalate. Abuse is perpetuated by silence. Some people are afraid that if they step in, they will be accused of being judgemental. Some are afraid they will be told to mind their own business. Nobody really wants to see women and children being abused. But what can be done about it? Being labelled a do-gooder or a busy body is a small price to pay compared to the devastating toll domestic violence takes on society. It’s high time people rallied together. There is strength in numbers. Organisations like White Ribbon and Amnesty International are opening their arms to people who want to turn the tide on violence against women. Women need to know they are not alone, that they have strong arms of support helping to lift them out of the turbulent waves of abuse. They need to know that there are compassionate people, men and women, who will rally together and make it clear that acts of violence against women will not be tolerated. That there are safe places to go. That being a victim of abuse is nothing to be ashamed of. Governments need to invest more into domestic violence. More safe houses, more support staff, more financial assistance, more powers given to police, and more public awareness campaigns. Every school should incorporate awareness programmes into their curriculum. Children caught up in family violence need to be taught that what they witness in their own home isn’t normal, that there is a more respectful way to live, that there can be a brighter future. I wish somebody was there to help me when I needed it. I consider myself lucky to be alive. I’ve been through the silence, the shame, the indignity and the painful healing. I cannot deny that it has changed me. I am afraid to have children. I am afraid of marriage. I have trust issues. However, I chose to swim through the murky fog of abuse towards a brighter future. And although this
sounds cliché, my personal experience has made me stronger. Strong enough to blow the foghorn on domestic violence. Because a whistle just isn’t loud enough. Will you join me? Reference: Hoeffler A, Fearon J, Post-2015 Consensus: Conflict and Violence Assessment, Commissioned by Copenhagen Consensus Centre. 2014. Author bio: Simone Keane is a singer songwriter from Western Australia. She is the first regional songwriter to win two categories in the same year at the Western Australia Song of the Year Awards. She has released two independent CDs, “Burning” and “Moon Tunes.” Simone’s background lies in musical theatre, but life events turned her to song writing as a form of self-expression. She is a qualified English teacher and works as a volunteer for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The natural environment is one of her greatest passions, as well as her boyfriend’s dog, Bruce.
FEMINIST MEN – REAL OR UNICORNS? By Shraddha Chatterjee
Editor’s Note: The author writes: “The fragments of poetry in this article have previously been published on my blog. The use of capital letters in the terms ‘Feminism’, ‘Feminist’, ‘Patriarchy’ etc. is a conscious choice despite being aware that these terms have multiple meanings.” I. whatever you say we will know its underside; we are seedlings our world destiny is to live alongside dark murky dirt Today, we stand divided on Feminism. The internet is a-twitter about Time magazine’s poll about banning the term ‘Feminist’ in 2015, and at the same time Feminism garners support from celebrities like Emma Watson, Tom Hiddleston, Joseph Gordon Lewitt, and others, who are starting a trend now being called
‘Meninism’. Women no longer want to call themselves ‘Feminist’. It seems Feminism as we have known it is morphing into something else; it is becoming something new, with a new kind of membership, a newer audience, and harsher critique. I am aware that this is happening largely in First World contexts. There is much that is underfoot in the Third World, and numerous mass mobilizations, that do not fit into this description of Feminism. And yet, Feminism being portrayed as something that requires banning on one hand, and as something that requires the support of men on the other hand, is a very real problem. Feminists have become characterized as anarchic radicals who are anti-men, and this stance of being anti-men has, probably, created this dual and contradictory desire to portray Feminists as needing the support of men, and at the same time, as women who intend to disrupt society and spread messages of hate, as opposed to working towards the goal of gender equality. Feminism is being defamed and morphed at the same time. II. we are not vanguards nor watchdogs nor hasty messengers we are the unsettling the listening the seeing (from below); we are always (be)coming I remain suspicious of this curious trend of Meninism. While it feels good to find support in men, who are keen to take up the mantle of supporting women’s rights, I remain curious about how exactly they will offer support. In India, post the gang-rape of a young woman in December 2012, a lot of media coverage was given to the issue of women’s rights and safety. Masculinity came to be redefined post 2012 as something that protects women, women who are men’s sisters, mothers, daughters. The MARD campaign started by Farhan Akhtar (http://therealmard.org/) and the Men Engage project (http://menengage.org/) are symbolic of this new definition of masculinity. This definition of masculinity is problematic, to say the least, because women do not need protection, and women do not need to be circumscribed only as sisters, daughters, and mothers. Women need to be defined as who they are, and they need to be respected as people, not as relations to men, or biological roles in society. I remain suspicious also because Meninism is inaugurating new discourse around how men are victims of Patriarchy as well. The recent turn to masculinity studies supports this notion, and while it is true that Patriarchy affects men and women (all genders, in fact), this theory of making victims out of men removes much of the responsibility on the part of men to be sensitive to their social and cultural privilege in the Patriarchal order. This simply makes them helpless perpetrators of violence on women, without necessarily offering a solution as to
how men can reconstruct masculinity in ways that promote justice and equality between all genders. This suspicion does not imply that I am against men supporting Feminism or calling themselves Feminist. This suspicion is not an angst-filled response to ‘Ban All Men’. This suspicion is simply disquiet about what it might mean to truly BE a Feminist, especially for men. III. we do not want to be (you); you may (not) encroach our frontiers are permeable; you are invited in (our beds) We need to rethink our motives in calling men victims of Patriarchy. We need to rethink our motives in inviting men to support feminism, to protect women and their rights. We need to reevaluate our motives in simply rejecting men and believing they cannot be a part of Feminism. I believe that as long as the axiom ‘The Personal is Political’ holds, Feminism means a transformation of oneself regardless of gender. Women are not Feminists by default. Men also have the possibility to become Feminist. The process of realizing the power structures and systems around oneself requires some work on oneself, especially if we are to realize how we are privileged at the expense of oppressing someone else. Men are privileged when compared to women for example, victimhood be damned. Heterosexual women are privileged over non-heterosexual women. For me, Feminism involves realizing one’s own privilege, while at the same time, realizing oppression and our own participation in structures that oppress us. And yet, before we sink into relativizing our positions of privilege and oppression into infinity, there are claims that we can make strategically and politically. Simply put, without realizing our own perpetuation of oppression, or our own maintenance of privilege, we cannot become Feminists. In that light, are men who claim Meninism or Feminism truly Feminists? Do they realize their position of privilege, and their maintenance of oppression, not just as a class, but as individuals? Do they cook for the women in their home, or share the responsibilities of childcare? Or do they lapse into protecting their women – wives, mothers, sisters, daughters – while feeling free to devalue other women outside their kinship relations? This is not to advocate for a Feminism that is devoid of men, but to advocate a feminization of men before they can call themselves Feminist. The former is a banishment of all men from Feminism, the latter is an intimate relation of men with femininity. IV. oh! what monstrosities we remain
for you; unaware and blind you remain â€” that you were our soil. Without this transformative exercise, where women and men come together to learn about themselves and the ways in which they cross each other, Feminism is, in the sense I use it, impossible. How many men are Feminists, then? How many women are Feminists? Are we, for example, Feminists if we do not stand up for Transgender rights? We can no longer support a Feminism that is full of violent anger towards the world; a Feminism that destroys instead of creates. That Feminism has blind spots. Feminism is, for me, a fusion of the personal and the political. Feminism is not an involvement in protests and marches that advocate for womenâ€™s rights or an end to violence against women; Feminism is a personal, constantly dynamic and changing view of the world which shapes all our interactions and our relations. It frames the way we think, the way we do things, the way we breathe. It frames who our friends and allies are, and it frames our outlook to life. Feminism is not our day job. Feminism is not our style statement. Feminism is not our academic edge. Feminism is our being. Author Bio: Shraddha Chatterjee is presently an MPhil student by day and brooding writer by night. Currently she is specializing in Women and Gender Studies from Delhi, India. Part-time artist, part-time lover, full-time friend, in her free time she likes to maintain her blog - http://shadypoetricks.tumblr.com/. Her passions include an excessive love of all animals, reading anything she can get her hands on (except harlequin romances), being a part of a feminist-queer LBT collective, and rolling her eyes at all things resembling hetero-normative patriarchy. She loves asking questions, and intends to do eventually pursue a PhD so that she can do so full-time. Shraddha also hopes to open an animal shelter to provide free medical care and housing for animals of all kinds. This is her first time publishing for a magazine. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patricia Arquette: Right on Feminism , Political Correctness Be Damned By Alison Ross
By now, I should be getting paid the big bucks as Patricia Arquette's spokesperson. I have practically devoted my entire Facebook page to defending her "controversial" feminist Oscar speech. I was already a huge fan when Arquette won the Oscar for her portrayal of a struggling single mother in the unexpectedly feminist movie, "Boyhood." She played that role with such aching authenticity, such moving pathos. In a review I wrote of the movie, I said it should be renamed "Femmehood." Arquette was the shimmering core of the movie. As Arquette began to give her speech, I suppressed my vocal ebullience, so that I could focus on her words. I knew it would be a speech that I would want to hear. When I had heard her speak on the Golden Globes, I was touched as to how adorably awkward and genuine she was - the exact antithesis of a prototypical Hollywood starlet. Her words carried peculiar weight. In her rawness, she radiated warmth; she was a paradox of partially perfected poise and charming gracelessness. Arquette used her Oscar platform (that reached a purported billion people), not to bask self-congratulatorily, but to fiercely call for wage equality, and to rally people of color and those in the gay community to come together for all women. It resonated with me, deeply. It struck a chord. Yes, I thought, we need to be focusing on women's rights - all of us. We need to join together. A lot of women felt similarly empowered by her speech. But when Arquette elaborated on her sentiments backstage, and her words recorded for posterity, the entire internet, it seemed, reverberated with explosive rage. So-called progressives unsheathed their swords of political correctness, and wielded them to parse her every word, to detect subtle sinister agendas. Her "privilege" as a rich white woman was paraded as a reason as to why we should not only ignore her, but bring her down. Never mind that Arquette was once a struggling mother and that she has long fought for the rights of the oppressed. Never mind that many privileged women suffer abuses: wage inequality, daily discrimination, domestic abuse, harassment - the whole litany of violations that all women are subject to suffering. Never mind all that: Arquette, a wealthy white woman, clearly doesn't "get it," because, you know, she hasn't "suffered."
The callous presumptuousness of that sentiment, implicit in so many anti-Arquette rants, is staggering. Arquette's rant was a plea for "intersectionality" - not a tirade against it! She may have phrased it clumsily, or in a way that didn't convey her full intention. I don't exactly agree with that assessment, because I understood the import. I understand intuitively that a woman calling for wage equality is not insensitive to gay rights, and minority rights. I understand that a woman calling for wage equality does so because, as Arquette herself said, wage equality helps ALL women - and most especially women of color and those in low-income situations, a category which transcends race. I fail to grasp how we can in any way critique Arquette's words when they carry such gravity: "The highest percentage of children living in poverty are female-headed households, and it's inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don't [have them]. People think we have equal rights; we won't until we pass a Constitutional Amendment in the United States of America where we pass the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment] once and for all..." Yes, the Oscars and Hollywood are rife with superficial celebrity, pernicious patriarchy, and nauseating affluence. Yes, Hollywood perpetuates the egregiously unjust economic structure of the United States, and also plays a role in the sordid lack of minority representation onscreen, and even in fueling injurious stereotypes. Very often, the Hollywood juggernaut exacerbates societal ills. But Hollywood's individual inhabitants, progressive champions like Arquette, can be part of the solution. Some can and do speak out on our behalf, and in the process, raise potent awareness. Sure, celebrities benefit from wealth privilege, but should that mean we exclude them from the conversation, if they are patently on our side? If we are to embrace the tenets of tolerance, then shouldn't we practice our preaching points? At the Oscars, Common and John Legend, fresh off their win for the rousing song, "Glory," spoke for solidarity in the face of ongoing civil rights violations. Alejandro Inarritu, fresh off his win for "Birdman," spoke on behalf of Mexican immigrants like himself. Gay rights, Alzheimer's and ALS awareness were also given platforms. The Oscars may be too white and too male, but some participants in this year's ceremony were able to eclipse those regressive anachronisms through brash condemnations of bigotry toward gender, race, disability. Arquette's words have been mercilessly vivisected; her plea smothered in a cacophony of tediously analytical voices. Whether right or wrong, Patricia Arquette has more influence than do your everyday Joe and Jane. Collectively, however, we can have astounding influence, and that was her point. Lost amidst all of the ludicrous backlash is an audacious plea for gender wage fairness. Patricia Arquette did not call for wage equality for white millionaire actresses; she called for wage equality for "women." She is speaking on our behalf. Will we follow the patriarchy playbook and rip her to shreds in crassly anti-feminist fashion, or we will band together and vociferously demand justice for women?
Mattel and the Art of By Alison Ross
Recently, it came to light that toymaker Mattel, famous for, among other playthings, marketing the Hot Wheels and Barbie brands, had released a Barbie book on its publishing imprint called "I Can Be...a Computer Engineer!" It was one in a series of Barbie "career books" and its title seemed innocuous enough - even empowering, since women are not "expected" to be engineers or in any field that involves math. But that's where the "empowering" part ends. A cursory perusal of the book's contents discloses that Barbie only designs the games that she is tasked to make. She enlists the help of her male counterparts to do the actual coding because, like, you know, that's, like, way too mentally involved for a girl like Barbie! Or any girl, the book implicitly asserts. Cuz, like, girls are DUMB!
Mattel later issued a tail-betweenits-legs apology, and the author of the book (a FEMALE) revealed her chagrin as well. What in freak-all were they thinking, you may ask? But my thing is, Mattel et al hasn't been employing their thinking chapeaus throughout Barbie's entire history. Indeed, since Barbie's introduction into the toy market in 1959, Barbie has been a brainless bimbo with more body curves than brain cells. She is a regressive icon of what many lawmakers and many in pop culture and marketing want women to be: erotically seductive and mentally vacuous. Throughout Barbie's history, there have been other doll debacles as well, such as the 1960s Barbie who came with a weight loss book, which suggested helpful things like, "Don't eat." And as recently as 1992, there was a "Teen Talk Barbie" who intoned, "Math is hard," and "I love shopping." But hey, someone needs to tell Barbie that shopping involves math, as you have to add up the totals of what you buy to make sure you've budgeted correctly. Or does Barbie have her own MALE ACCOUNTANT for that? But the irony I love most about the latest Barbie boob is that ADA LOVELACE was the first computer engineer. Ada was the daughter of philandering poet Lord Byron. Though male scientists eventually co-opted her ideas and took credit for them, it's documented fact that it was ADA who construed the first algorithm.
Take THAT, misogynist Mattel! A freaking WOMAN invented computer engineering. But youâ€™re too myopic and misanthropic to care. It's toymakers and tastemakers like you who would willingly repress the mathematical spirit of young girls. YOU, along with your crass conspirators in the toy and related industries, are the ones responsible for helping to dumb down generations of girls, feeding them fantasies of clothes-hoarding and food-shunning instead of pushing them toward cerebral pursuits. You prize anorexia of the body AND mind, which is why your stupid stupid doll should be boycotted to extinction.
2015 Feminazi Manifesto: Reclaiming the Positive Connotations of Feminism
By Alison Ross Lately, there seems to be mass confusion and delusion about what it means to be a feminist. It’s as though we have taken sizeable retrogressive steps and passively clung to the ragged stuffed animal of shame instead of festively embracing pride in being women. Women of all stripes are afraid to call themselves feminists, forcefully forgoing the entire historical narrative of our gender – fierce souls who fought for our rights to work, to be independent, to VOTE, to not be subject to harassment and assault. In short, the suffragists and ERA proponents and pro-choice activists, right on up until the more fragmented movements of now, all labor to ensure that women are not relegated to the shadowy status of “other,” but rather treated as having valid sentience and sapience, not to mention as people of vibrant value, who are not only the actual genesis of life (a titanic imperative if there ever was one), but whose unique personae contribute outrageous artistic, scientific, interpersonal, and spiritual fortunes to the world. We have allowed the menacing intentions of some men, and some women, to sully our view of what it is to be a person with her own transcendent nature. We have allowed the stultifyingly sexist, whose shriveled sense of being causes them to lacerate those with soaring confidence, to cast dark clouds of doubt over our abilities and identities. We have allowed the toy industry and the entertainment industry and the media and the politicos to define what it is to be a woman FOR US. For them, women are endowed with succulent tits and fleshy ass and little else.
Our hands are not clean. We must take responsibility for enabling their preposterous perspective to prevail. It’s fine, I say, for women’s bodies to be joyously vaunted. Women come in myriad shapes and yes, our tits and asses are HOT. Women’s sexuality should be celebrated. But when our sexuality is the ONLY aspect that is fawned upon and our feisty intellects are frowned upon, that is when we need to take action and block the misogyny from propelling forward. So when we use the word feminism, we should use it exuberantly and precisely. Feminists are humanists who vigorously embrace the women and men who valiantly struggle for women’s natural rights, who vociferously denounce all forms of sexual assault and all forms of sexual exploitation. Feminists are humanists who zealously promote women’s achievements so that it’s glaringly apparent that women AND men are the architects of the artistic, the spiritual, the scientific.
Feminists are humanists who scream out against inequality and injustice in all their insidious guises, and who champion the entire freaking human race. To do anything less would be anti-feminist.
This just in: Women Are NOT Baby-Breeding Factories!
By Alison Ross
I know, I know: This annihilates your comfortable complacent view of women’s niche in the world. But but but, you protest … women are the very source of existence-gifting, the hole that welcomes the phallic injection that conspires to cultivate new life, the very same hole that crudely ejects that new life into a cold callous world.
Okay, so maybe you didn’t word it that way. But you are still hesitant to consider that women’s sole role in this world might NOT to breed babies. You cannot fathom that women might have transcendent nature that has little if ANYTHING to do with spewing forth spawn. You might be horrified to learn that some women don’t want to birth no babies at ALL, like EVER. The nobirther repudiates the imperatives of hauling around all that oversized luggage in her womb for nearly a year, enduring fatiguing pain in limb and spine, navigating that vertiginous universe of extreme emotions, succumbing to outlandish cravings of chocolate milk shakes topped with Cheez Whiz, knowing too that once the Baby Express – the carrier – i.e., SHE - unburdens herself of all that bulky baggage, she faces yet another, much more dauntingly cumbersome task: that of nurturing a teat-tugging, screeching, blob of defecation and emotion who grows into a cent-sucking psychological train-wreck. So, um, yeah, count us out. Ecstasy for us is barrenness: a brashly blank womb, a happily hollow compartment, a vivacious void!
An Anti-War Screed in Woolf’s Clothing By Alison Ross It is often asserted - as axiomatic fact, even - that if women ran the world, peace would prevail. But I find that assumption, as well-meaning as it may be, to be offensively simplistic. Women are typecast as the peacemakers, but plenty of anecdotal evidence alone will demolish that naïve notion, no? Women can be just as aggressive as men; after all, we too are in possession of that aggression-hormone, testosterone. Perhaps not as in hefty doses as males, of course. But to suggest that women are The Peacemakers is tantamount, in my view, to branding us as meek – and while personalities vary among genders, naturally, I think the template of meek women en masse is a bit past its prime. Women are far more intricate than to be pigeonholed as the paradigmatic pacifists. (I am not saying that pacifism is meek. To the contrary. But I am saying that most people would classify it as such and hence, label women as such. I am also saying that women encompass vastly more convoluted psychological terrain than is generally acknowledged. I am also saying that men could just as easily be pacifists.) That said, we do have women such as Virginia Woolf, who admirably denounced war and who conflated the ideas of familial patriarchy with world. In her book, The Three Guineas, she wrote: “the public and the private worlds are inseparably connected…. The tyrannies and servilities of one are the tyrannies and servilities of the other.” Perhaps it takes the incisiveness of the female intuition (and yes, it DOES exist) to slice through the suffocating smog of patriotic propaganda to discern this very basic veracity: that a militarized world is predicated on a militarized home. If men are given patriarchal reign in the home (rather than said home being an equanimous environment with patriarchal/matriarchal symmetry), then naturally that is going to emanate out toward society. Society is, after all, constructed on the (fragile?) foundation of
individuals and families. If, for instance, the modern family takes on a new paradigm – as it has with gay and lesbian marriage legalizations – then society becomes infused with that change as well, and people adopt a more tolerant mien toward what was previously viewed as anomalous. And even though the modern heterosexual family has undergone a paradigm shift in terms of women working, more equal division of domestic labor, etc. there is still a venomous patriarchy permeating many families. So, as Virginia Woolf seems to be exhorting us to do (and she did this decades ago, and while change has occurred since then, we are still immorally mired in an overtly machismo/masculinist culture), we must dismantle the toxic aspects of our home environments in order to effect larger change in our society. If you have a broken clock, you take it apart and reassemble it so that it works. Well, our world is badly broken – war is more prevalent and brutal than ever (and the war impulse radiates from an overly masculinized/militarized society) - and we must take it apart to fix it. The change starts at home. Dismantling familial patriarchy and reassembling the family paradigm to mirror feminist ideals in concert with the more positive masculine ones will in turn charge society with a more beatific balance.
WISE FEMMES: Tunewise Cats Scribewise Cats Flickwise Chix Artwise Cats Rantwise Femmes
These Cats are the musical masterminds whose sense of flamboyant mischief, idiosyncratic imagination, and wicked wisdom have propelled them to stardom or to certain corners of obscurity where there still exists an adoring audience, just one that’s content to idolize in the shadows away from the blazing lights of mainstream acclaim. Obviously there are many more women than these who have scorched the earth with their tunewise talents; this is just a smattering of what the editor deems essential in the way of badass belles who blister hearts with their voices and sear souls with their guitars.
Sleater-Kinney is the scarily talented trio from Washington State that blazed onto the music scene in the mid-90s and carved out a nifty niche for themselves in the riot grrrl movement. Indeed, they OWNED the riot grrrl movement, along with the blistering Bikini Kill. The group disbanded in 2006, but have recently returned with a fiery vengeance, flaunting sizzling guitar riffs, traded vocals, and booming beats. Guitarist Carrie Browstein pulls double duty as the comedic yin to her punk rock yang, playing cleverly crafted roles on “Portlandia” that lovingly skewer the politically correct hipster caricatures of Portland, Oregon. But Sleater-Kinney will always be her main artistic habitat, as her guitar skills have gained her copious Jimi Hendrix comparisons, and her vocals provide a mellifluous counterpoint to Corin Tucker’s earshredding shrieks. Sleater-Kinney is poised to rule the world again, in the most fiercely feminist fashion, with the release of their mindblowing new CD, “No Cities to Love.” Watch Sleater-Kinney: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZA_7FtttRY
Kathleen Hanna helmed the first really successful female punk band, Bikini Kill, in the early 90s, and became known for her spikily mischievous on-stage antics, which ranged from performing in her underwear and donning t-shirts adorned with beefcake (to provide acerbic ironic commentary on sexist portrayals of women) to barking feisty commands at guys at her shows to move and make room for the girls. Such tautly cacophonous songs as “Rebel Girl” stand as audacious feminist anthems. Kathleen went on to sing for Le Tigre, an electronicdance collaboration, and, more recently, has been involved with Julie Ruin, which masterfully merges punk and new wave styles. A movie about Kathleen Hanna, “The Punk Singer,” adoringly charts the singer’s searing impact on feminism and music. Watch Bikini Kill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOCWma5vOiQ
As the Cowboy Junkies’ lead vocalist, Margo Timmins’ soaring, celestial warble, woven into a dense fabric of dirgey blues, melts hearts even while the tangy, gritty guitars are sweetly fraying nerves. Her cosmic croon is unrivaled in modern music. Watch the Junkies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsS_W5jN-vU
SHARIN FOO (THE RAVEONETTES)
Danish duo The Raveonettes’ distorted surf-riff/sock hop/Motown aesthetic has afforded them a solid fanbase, and Sharin’s Scandinavian take on girlgroup melodies is rooted in nostalgic reverence for the sonic culture of African-Americans. Watch The Raveonettes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRUqpgg-8Ps
The Raincoats were an all-female UK 70s post-punk band whose sound was deliberately defiant toward commercial trends. The band earned praise from, of all people, Johnny Rotten, for its bold blending of world music, jazz, and folk. The band, who also boast such fans as Kim Gordon and the late Kurt Cobain, has been invited to play at festivals as recently as 2011. Watch the Raincoats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGskyzsMMIA
Bessie Smith was a famous American jazz and blues singer in the 20s and 30s. She was dubbed, “The Empress of the Blues,” and her voice, suffused with soul and tinged with melancholy, influenced generations of singers after. Listen to Bessie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0TDNR3NEY0
PATTI SMITH Patti Smith could be construed as the female incarnation of Baudelaire or Rimbaud, but that would hopelessly entangle her with that “other gender.” Instead, let’s just say that Patti draws from the same muses as did those French scribes, in terms of literary savvy and anarchic spirit. Patti Smith has led the Patti Smith Group since 1975, a band that famously fused spoken word and rock music for the first time, and which bravely blazed trails for the multifaceted directions that punk rock has taken. In addition to possessing an elegantly grave singing voice, composing lyrics with cosmic import and sporting a signature style composed of gypsy vestiary, Patti Smith is also an accomplished author, penning poetry books and winning the 2010 National Book Award for Nonfiction for her humble homage to her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids. Watch Patti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PaTA8Ppd_8
Siouxsie Sioux was the leader of the highly influential outfit Siouxsie and the Banshees in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, as well as the singer in The Creatures in the 70s and 80s. Siouxsie’s avant garde sartorial sense, deliriously demented music and sassy attitude iconoclastically impacted the 80s new wave, post-punk and goth scenes. Watch the Banshees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYJOq6VnV2U
LORETTA LYNN Jack White said it best when he declared that Loretta Lynn a “national treasure.” Loretta has reigned supreme in the country scene for fifty years, and continues recording to this day (her recent CD was produced by Jack White). Lynn is known for her songs that brashly blasted barriers in a conservative country music milieu, with themes relating to women’s concerns, such as philandering spouses, birth control, double standards, and the impact of war. Watch Loretta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9eHp7JJgq8
MEMPHIS MINNIE Memphis Minnie has not really gotten her due. Eternally eclipsed by male guitarists, she has only recently become more known for her mad guitar skillz, potently hooky songs and sweet croon. Sadly, despite the savvy of her songs, Minnie’s music did not earn her a full living, and she supplemented with prostitution, which was dangerous enterprise in the early 1900s. But the Queen of Country Blues reigns from beyond the grave! Listen to Minnie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhis33IOXN0
THE CASKET GIRLS
Upon initial listen, The Casket Girls’ music might seem to belie their sepulchral moniker, since it is anything but “grave.” But the vocal harmonies, imbued with a ghostly, gossamer, hypnotic effect could indeed be construed as otherworldly, so maybe there is a parallel with their name after all. Either way, this music is far from macabre, but rather supernaturally soothing. The story goes that The Casket Girls were discovered singing in a Savannah square – and Savannah, rife with gothic graveyards and dripping with Spanish moss, is the perfect setting for such eerie ethereality. Watch The Casket Girls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLYIodl5zUI
I’ll just mine the archives for this one, because I can’t top my review extract from years ago: The Coathangers brazenly explode notions of what it is to be female. They are crude, rude, and socially unacceptable, and all the more "female" because of it. They are crude and rude in a wholly FEMININE way. Most people view feminine ideals as those that encompass innocence, fragility and so on. But screw that. Women can be crass, and vulgar, and aggressive, and they can be that way within a feminine context. I don't purchase the idea that women who act crudely are mimicking male traits. Rather, there is female aggression, and male aggression. Male and female aggression may stem from a similar impetus, but I would not say that their expression is so identical as to be indistinguishable. So The Coathangers (yes, their name is a vulgar allusion to unsavory abortion methods) exude their own brand of saucy irreverence through spiky, bouncy punk anthems. Not only is their music playfully boisterous, but the song titles and lyrics are impishly profane. Songs like "Nestle in My Boobies," "Shut the Fuck Up, and "Leave My Shit Alone" offer a tantalizing taste of the raunchy mischief that's served up in sassy bites. At first listen, The Coathangers might scratch the eardrums a bit with shrieky, screechy vocals that evoke rather unfortunate nails-on-a-chalkboard or cat-in-heat sound effects. But as the music sinks into your subconscious, you find that the vocals grate less and less and that they make "sonic sense" within the context of the jagged Buzzcocks-meetsearly-Cure style of punk and post-punk. Besides, the girls not only revel in cacophony, but they have harmonic potential as well, and are not fearful to embellish their abrasive sound with geek-instruments like organs and accordians. Watch the Coathangers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGLRdG1N7XE Links to previous Coathangers reviews: http://clockwisecat.blogspot.com/2014/05/sucking-and-screwing-weapons-of-dead.html http://clockwisecat.blogspot.com/2010/07/scrambled-eggs-coathangers-bring-on.html http://clockwisecat.blogspot.com/2011/12/lucy-dreams-of-coathanger-in-beirut-cd.html
CATS Virigina Woolf famously said, “I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” Too tragically true – throughout history, women have often had to adopt pseudonyms (George Eliot, anyone?), or write under the “anonymous” umbrella, simply to get published, or receive the same merited recognition as male writers. It’s an absurd scenario, for women such as Woolf, Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Mary Shelley, and countless others, have evinced time and again that femmewise scribes not only have a lot to say, but they wield a sassy style in which to say it. Their ingenuity in poetry, fiction, plays, and non-‐fiction brings both unique and universal perspectives to the asinine and profound elements of life. I suppose it’s scary for some men to acknowledge that women have complex brains. Well, fuck ‘em! The following scribewise femmes kick cerebral ass. It’s not an inexhaustible list, and indeed barely even swipes the surface of wizardly women wordsmiths, but it’s a few that the editor fervently fancies.
Ursula K. Le Guin is perhaps my favorite novelist. I have by no means read everything she has written – she is profoundly prolific in the fantasy and science fiction genres. I am not even that much of a fanatic when it comes to those genres, which is a testament to her scintillating skills, because it means that I will read her despite my bolder biases toward other genres like Magic Realism. But Le Guin’s style is itself pretty magical, and more intellectually informed than some of the superficial claptrap among sci-fi and fantasy scribblers. Her novels The Dispossessed and Left Hand of Darkness are awardwinning, universally acclaimed masterworks, which courageously plumb the positive facets of such touchy topics as anarchy and gender-bending. It’s her Lathe of Heaven that I am most fond of, however. The novel concerns a character’s dreams that can retroactively impact reality. The initial impetus for the reality alterations is well-intentioned – the idea is to subvert a dystopia into a more utopic situation (no prejudice, no war) – but the experiment becomes horribly mangled. The novel is widely seen as critical of eugenics and as tributes both to Philip K. Dick and George Orwell. The story, written in the 70s, takes place in perpetually gray Portland, Oregon, in 2002, amid mass poverty with a backdrop war raging in the Middle East. So, it’s prophetic, too.
Emily Dickinson She would not stop for death, but we would stop for her. The infamously reclusive Emily Dickinson practically rivals Shakespeare in the literature classroom, as far as how reverently her works are treated by teachers and students. During her lifetime, she wrote nearly 2000 poems, and yet only about a dozen were published while she was alive -‐ and even then, her poems were heavily edited. Today, Dickinson is studied widely and considered one of the most salient American poets among either gender. Her poetry reflected a strong idiosyncratic style, concerning itself with themes such as the mysteries of nature, identity, death, immortality, and love. The majority of her poems were brief, and in them she employed some typical techniques such as humor, concrete imagery for abstract concepts, and regular meter. But it was her copious use of unusual punctuation such as dashes, her common incorporation of slant rhyme, and her capitalization of words that did not always call for capitals, that are seen as influential signifiers. Ever the eccentric, Emily savored her solitude and corresponded with friends through letters. One wonders if e-‐mail would have suited Emily or if even that would have been too much real-‐world intrusion! Whatever the case, Emily Dickinson is an institution and should be lauded for her iconoclastic contributions to American Letters.
Although Zora Neale Hurston had, by all accounts, an idealized childhood for an African American in the early 20th century, later in her life she would come to know suffering, as despite her literary acclaim, she died impoverished. Nonetheless, Hurston remains one of the most celebrated figures of the Harlem Renaissance – her influence reverberates even to this day, and we have Alice Walker to thank for resurrecting interest in her peculiar genius. Hurston wrote four novels and two folklore books, each of which was the product of meticulous anthropological inquiry. Her most famous novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, about a strong, confident black woman, may have been cavalierly received the late 1930s, especially among the peevish white patriarchy, but these days it is considered a classic in the canon of black literature – and a classic, period.
DIANE DI PRIMA
When someone mentions The Beat Generation, what immediately leaps to mind is “Howl,” Jack Kerouac, maybe visions of a San Francisco overrun with proto-hipster Anglo males spouting poetry to the free-form sounds of jazz? Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but did you know that WOMEN actually populated the movement as well – not as mere spectators but as prominent participators? Wrenchingly sad and wrath-inducing that this fact is not well-known among the masses of Beat Generation fanatics. The Beats, who irreverently transgressed linguistic convention by forging a poetics free of stifling academic expression, boast Diane Di Prima as their queen. Di Prima, who hailed from New York City, became entrenched with the Beats in San Francisco in the ‘60s. Di Prima even faced charges of obscenity for her poetry, and was arrested for publishing controversial poems in her publication, The Floating Bear. Di Prima, whose tomes number in the 40s, studied Buddhism and Sanskrit and taught poetry at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics along with Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Her poems are often sociopolitical and feministic in nature, but she also writes about relationships and Eastern philosophies.
Ever heard the term, “Sapphic,” in relation to, say, lesbian leanings? Well, now you know where it comes from – the poet Sappho, the OD (Original Dyke!). Even though it’s not been proved that she was, in fact, a lesbian, she did inhabit the Greek island of Lesbos (which spawned the term “lesbian,” in so far as a lesbo can spawn something! Ha! (Relax, I’m gay-friendly!)). Records on Sappho are somewhat scarce, but she apparently lived into the mid-6 th century BC, and was exiled, at some point, to Sicily. However, she returned aand lived out the majority of her life on Lesbos. Sappho’s verse was considered lyric in nature, and she was commonly considered one of the greatest lyric poets.
Here is a fragment of a poem by Sappho, an ode to her female friends: This is my song of maidens dear to me. Eranna, a slight girl I counted thee, When first I looked upon thy form and face, Slim as a reed, and all devoid of grace. But stately stature, grace and beauty came Unto thee with the years — O, dost not shame For this, Eranna, that thy pride hath grown Therewith?
Kick-ass Chicana feminista Sandra Cisneros is the author of one of my top novels , The House on Mango Street – I loudly proclaim it to be one of those must-read-or-dieregretting-it kind of books. It’s a compact novel and the prose is lucid, uncomplicated and unembellished. And therein lies its staggering power. It’s a modest tome and yet packs an impact that’s hard to shake. Cisneros grew up bouncing between Mexican and Anglo cultures, and as such, exhibits unorthodox insights, borne of being the product of hybrid milieus. Much of Cisneros’ work, which includes short stories , deals with the sexism she’s experienced in both cultures as well as cultivating a solid Chicana identity. Cisneros is also the author of some sparkling verse, which veers in mood from poignant to buoyant. The House on Mango Street is an intrinsic part of many middle and high school curricula, and her work has been translated into twenty languages. Says Sandra: “Women need to control their money, and they need to control their fertility. It's your body, and it's your life. Nobody should get in the way of that."
Peruvian-‐born Isabel Allende is most famous for her magic realism-‐laced novel La Casa de los
Espiritus, or The House of the Spirits. She has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (for whatever that is worth) and she’s also been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Furthermore, in her native country, she received the National Literature Prize. Suffice it to say that Allende es una mujer muy fucking awesome. Her novels are feminist in tone, and she is known for her ability to fuse myth and reality in fluid fashion. Chilean President Salvador Allende was second cousin to Allende, though many have confused him as her uncle (which results from a Spanish-‐language translation mishap ). The House of the Spirits thematically proposes to “exorcise the ghosts “of the brutal Pinochet dictatorship, and while it was roundly rejected by a repressive Latin American press, it was published in Spain, hailed as a magic realist masterpiece. Other Allende novels, such as Eva Luna, tweak that style or curtail it, but all seem to weave in elements of it in some way.
Joyce Mansour She was a surrealist poet who wrote gobs of poetry (as evidenced by her Bible-heavy tome I have by my nightstand) and yet her Wikipedia page remains embarrassingly barren – just a few sentences about her life and then a list of her published works. This will not do! Celebrated surrealists of the male persuasion (Andre Breton, Tristan Tzara) enjoy the perks of popularity (well, okay, they’re dead), but a female versifier who spun Tazmanian Devil circles around their work (quality-wise) doesn’t get to be a household name (at least among the erudite who revel in reading dream-scripture)? As I said, that will not fucking do. Mansour, an Egyptian-French scribe, seared the page with scandalously erotic lines that tore frazzled imagery from deep in her subterranean consciousness. To wit: Why should I wait in front of a closed door/Supplicant, timid torrid base fiddle/Have Children/Swallow rare vinegars on your gums/The tenderest white spotted with black/Your penis is softer/Than a virgin’s face/More irritating than pity/Feathered tool of an unbelievable noise
In the 1950s, Mansour became the best known Surrealist female poet, and ended up writing 16 books of poetry. She also authored prose and dramatic works. But why the fuck is she not well-known now? It baffles the brain, and the brain and the heart are pissed!
FLICKWISE CHIX There are dick flicks, and there are chick flicks. Dick flicks are the ones that swim in the sperm spewed from the egregiously testosteroned characters, who manhandle women, race cars, and blow things up. They are machismo movies and they pervade Hollywood. Then there are chick flicks, the ones where women are snobby to each other and sniffly around their men, because, like, why won’t he marry me maybe I need to lose 50 more pounds so that I’ll weigh less than a feather? The ones that feature endless cat-fighting and perpetual man-groveling. These don’t so much pervade Hollywood as they act as the occasional counterparts to the dick flicks* And then there are Flickwise Chix. These are smart movies about real women, and they are savvy female directors, and they are kickass actresses – all of whom refuse to pigeonhole themselves into the pathetic Hollywood paradigms of bride-zilla/gossip girl/shallow, sassy bitch/sex-starved airhead. *It’s Hollywood’s woeful way of righting the balance, as it were, as
though absurdly caricatured genders are a coveted equanimity.
“WE ARE THE BEST” This adorable Swedish flick features 13-year old androgynous girls who have trouble fitting in, and so they form a punk band together. Mostly it’s about the girls and the delicate nuances and bold highlights of their friendships with each other.
Based on a memoir by Cheryl Strayed, this movie stars Reese Witherspoon as a broken woman who heals herself through hiking a grueling 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail - alone. Drug addiction and promiscuity were her initial modes of coping with her mother’s death, but then she toughens the hell up and backpacks her way to sanity, along the path facing physical and existential challenges that scrub away her gritty angst and make her whole again.
“BABADOOK” The scariest thing about this cerebral horror movie is that the director, Jennifer Kent, was callously overlooked for a nomination by the male-centric Oscars. It’s as though Oscars are like, yeah, women can act – we will accept that, cuz that’s an artsy thing. But direct?! Why, that’s all technical and shit, and what do women know about the science of films? Never mind that directing is the technical fused with the artistic - that’s a silly digression. But yes, “Babadook” is a magnificently managed movie – technically and artistically. The lead actress is devastatingly authentic as a woman grieving the loss of her husband, who, along with her son, metaphorically mourns through the evermore looming appearance of the Babadook, an ominous picture-book character. The movie is carefully, cleverly cultivated masterpiece, and one of my favorites, if not the favorite, of last year.
“SELMA” (Directed by Ava DuVernay)
We need a new MLK, and it needs to be a black woman. And that black woman needs to slap up the Oscar committee for yet AGAIN myopically dismissing a female, Ava Duvernay, for best director nod. Crap directors like what’s-his-fuck get nods for the half-assed “The Imitation Game,” and I guaran-damn-tee that if “Selma,” a towering inferno of a flick, were directed by a male, Oscar would be spraying its sperm all over it. “Selma” is about civil injustice, but the worst injustice yet is female directors – and in this case BLACK female directors - being shoved into the shadows.
KATHRYN BIGELOW: A Conundrum of Contradictions
“The Hurt Locker” was my favorite movie of 2008, for its precise portrayal of the psychological perils of war. When Kathryn Bigelow won the Best Director Oscar the following year, I was giddy, as she was the first female director to claim an award in that category. But then Bigelow went and directed “Zero Dark Thirty,” sabotaging my admiration for her. After all, it’s a movie that purportedly implicitly sanctions torture. But then, Bigelow has always been frustratingly oxymoronic: a female directing fiery testosterone-fests – most notable among her canon are “Point Break,” with its (campy) machismo-surfer ethos, and “Strange Days,” a hedonistically nihilistic noir. All are great movies, to be sure, and “The Hurt Locker” was the apex of her craft as far as I was concerned. It did not, in my view, romanticize war but rather stoically, icily critique an aspect of it. It would be nice, though, if Bigelow, herself a feisty femme, propped up female characters in her films, endowing them with messy complexities, and also if she ceased bolstering male aggression. But despite my reservations about her signature themes, I maintain that her technical skill in creating captivating, compelling, perfectly paced plots and arresting imagery is unparalleled.
Susan Sarandon Really, what’s not to like about Susan Sarandon? She exudes matriarchal warmth and strength. Her characters are organically complex, played with understated pathos. She has starred in dozens and dozens of movies since the 1970s, but is probably most known for her roles in the fiercely feminist “Thelma and Louise,” and “Dead Man Walking,” a true story where she portrays a nun outspokenly opposed to the death penalty.
I have liked Patricia Arquette in the past, but 2014 was the year that she came sparklingly alive for me, when she played the mother in “Boyhood” with devastating verisimilitude. How did she pull it off, exactly? She wholly inhabited the role, fused with it, made it seem like we were watching a documentary. And I have argued in my review of “Boyhood” that the movie should have been called “Femmehood,”all owing to Arquette’s ridiculously realistic portrayal.
The two Angela Basset roles that stand out most for me are “Strange Days,” where she played the tough and tender love interest for Ralph Fiennes (now THERE was a spicy alchemy), and “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” where she played the tough and tender Tina Turner, with a raw urgency. Angela Bassett has always radiated the dual dynamic of grit and grace.
She’s earthy and ethereal in equal measure. She plays tormented (“Inland Empire”) and maternal (“Wild”) with symmetrical skill. She’s garnered awards, notably for her sharp portrayal of Florida political miscreant Kathryn Harris in HBO’s “Recount.” She might be known best for her Lynchian excursions, as she has starred in several of his movies, but she’s performed in a breadth of roles and always awes with her scintillating mien.
ARTWISE CATS The great thing about women in the visual arts is that in addition to being fervently involved in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, the graphic arts, performance art, and so on, they are also active in what I will term the sartorial arts. Blogs such as “Advanced Style” spotlight older women whose fashion transcends mere good taste, and has an artful edge to it. But, lest women be only known for their sartorial sense, women throughout history have been celebrated in all areas of art, and yet simultaneously relegated to the background, while men, aggressively narcissistic as ever, have elbowed their way to the forefront of just about every art movement. It’s as though some men don’t feel they have enough political power as it is, and must dominate ERRRYTHING. But really, we know that women’s unfettered imaginations loom intimidating for some – those who would prefer to see women toil in the domestic arts (you know, cleaning and cooking) rather than paint-‐stain their hands. After all, women create babies, not the Mona Lisa! DUH! Anyway, the following list only gives a tantalizing taste of women in the visual arts – folk art, painting, sculpture, photography, graffiti and sartorial arts – but is proof that, as usual, queens reign supreme in the rollicking realm of the creative. (Notably absent from this treatment are Georgia O’Keefe, whose art is dealt with in an essay by Siddartha Beth Pierce, and Frida Kahlo, who spiritually rules over all.)
French-American sculptor Louise Bourgeois, who died in 2010 at the age of 99, was nicknamed “Spiderwoman” because of her imposing spider sculptures (30 feet in height), installed in various global locations. Bourgeoisʼ work is often likened to the surrealists, and she has been hugely influential in modern art. Early on, Bourgeois studied mathematics at the Sorbonne, but began studying art upon her motherʼs death. Bourgeois, who was a member of the Fight Censorship Group, a feminist anti-censorship, finally received her deserved acclaim in the 1980s, when MOMA did a retrospective of her work.
Margaret Kilgallen died entirely too young (in 2001, at 34), of breast cancer. Had she lived on, her name and work might be more entrenched in the mainstream mindset. Anyway, she was a central character in the San Francisco Mission School art movement. Her audacious art incorporated a confluence of influences, from handpainted signage, American folk art, murals, and typography. Too, Kilgallen had an academic background in printmaking and even indulged in freight train graffiti writing under the tag name Matokie Slaughter. In addition to kicking ass at visual art, Kilgallen also excelled at the sonic arts in her banjo playing, and at the kinesthetic arts - she was an avid surfer. Take that, phallo-centric art-world! Â
French photographer Claude Cahun took eerie-ass pictures that sought to blur the lines of traditional gender roles. Born in the late 1800s, Cahun died in the 1950s, but not before igniting intrigue in her strange selfportraits, in which she portrayed herself variously as a skinhead, androgynous subject, nymph, model, and soldier. Along with her partner, Suzanne Malherbe, she was actively and creatively against the Nazi occupation of France, and got arrested. Even though she was condemned to death, her death sentence never materialized; however, poor treatment in jail resulted in her death. Cahun, as contributor to the Surrealist movement, was able to propel the group’s representation of women beyond the merely erotic: Her work captured the multi-faceted qualities of women.
NELLIE MAE ROWE
Nellie Mae Rowe, who lived from 1900 until 1982, was a prolific selftaught artist from Georgia. Her work, which encompasses paintings, drawings, collages, hand-made dolls, and sculptures, is featured in NYCʼs American Folk Art Museum, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and countless other collections. Rowe incorporated “found” materials into her creations, and thematic concerns include African-American folklore, race, gender, domestic life, and spirituality. Rowe is recognized as one of the most important folk artists in the world.
SUE KRIETZMAN: SARTORIAL ARTIST
At 73, Sue Krietzman slays the dual birds of age-discrimination and fashion- discrimination with one sly stone. After a certain age, it is not considered “proper” for a woman – or anyone – to indulge such passionate, creative interest in outward appearance. Instead, we are supposed to don traditional old-lady attire and slink invisibly among younger mortals who have our tacit permission to flaunt fashion, however ill-informed their tastes may be. But Krietzman says, “fuck dat shit” and wears what she wants, when she wants, how she wants. Sue, a former television cook-show host, found an even more vibrant second life as a painter and (anti-fashion) fashionistia. She wears self-made or custom-made clothing integrating African, Guatemalan, and other ethnic design elements on her Kimono-style jackets, and Frida Kahlo figurines for jeweled adornment. Says Sue, “I’m in constant state of art arousal.” Orgasmic, indeed are her colorfully explosive outfits and audaciously adored home!
Sonia Delaunay, a Jewish-French artist, was the first living female to have a Louvre retrospective, in 1964. Delaunay co-founded the Orphism art movement, which advocated bold color use and sharp shapes. Known for her employment of geometric abstraction, she immersed herself in the artistic domains of painting, textiles, stage set design, furniture and clothing.
RANTWISE FEMMES Ain’t nuttin’ feistier than a femme. Ain’t nuttin’ beautifuller than a feisty femme, neither. Femmes who passively melt into their prescribed roles
as baby breeders and domestic drones are kinda, well, lame. Okay, so I might take flak for that. After all…plenty of femmes have kids, clean house AND kick azz. But there are some women who don’t question societal standards or push beyond what is expected of them, reaching into their visceral and cerebral potential – meaning, spouting off against patriarchal platitudes and attitudes using tart tongues and vicious verbalizing as their womanly weapons. But have no fear, for Rantwise Femmes are here! These femmes, past and present, are the rabblerousers who vociferously subvert the sociopolitical status quo. Rantwise Femmes mock the tyranny of tradition by delivering explosive speeches, writing erudite books, and fighting fervently for women’s rights every step of the way. ALL HAIL THE RANTWISE FEMME.
Just how much ass did Sojourner Truth kick? Isabella Baumfree was born into slavery in 1797, but ran free when her master failed to release her under the New York Anti-‐Slavery law. It was then when Isabella Baumfree found her real path, and changed her name to symbolize a peripatetic preacher -‐ one who traveled telling the terrifying truth about human and women's rights. Sojourner became one of the most well-‐ known abolitionists, not in small part to her fiery oratory. In her most famous speech, “Ain't I a Woman?,” delivered in the 1850s, Sojourner implores: "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them." That's how much ass she kicked.
Susan B. Anthony is known as the symbolic matriarch of the women's suffrage movement, but did you know she suffered malevolent satirical jabs in newspapers for her efforts to advocate for equal pay for equal work, women's union-‐building, and women's right to vote? Embarrassing. A lice Stone Blackwell was another key player in women's suffrage. After graduating from Boston University in 1881, she became editor of the Women's Journal, which chronicled the women's rights movement. But all suffragists, known and unknown, not only do NOT deserve vicious ridicule, but they merit the utmost deference for fearlessly fighting for such basic rights cruelly denied by dickheads. We should be rowdily celebrating their ferocious fortitude everyday.
Naomi Wolf published a highly controversial book in 1991 entitled The Beauty Myth, which documented the unreasonable societal demands bestowed on women as far as physical appearance is concerned. Wolf was a Yale graduate and Rhodes Scholar, and she wrote the book, which was praised by some media outlets and lambasted by others, to testify to the encroachment of patriarchically-conceived beauty standards into womenâ€™s lives. The fashion and cosmetic industries only serve to relentlessly reinforce these unattainable utopian standards, hence exacerbating the exploitation of women. Wolf became a spokesperson for the socalled third wave of feminism upon publication of her book. Since that time, she has published books about female sexuality as well as a best-seller charting the rise of American fascism, entitled The End of America. To this day Wolf remains a fiercely politically active force.
Naomi Klein is a Canadian social activist. Her book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, IS the most brilliant nonfiction tome I have ever read. The book is a meticulously researched caustic critique of the fatal foibles of “neo-liberalism.” The bookʼs primary thrust is that socially detrimental policy is often forced into implementation while the people are still numb and disoriented from the “shock” from disasters and invasions. For example, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, public schools were privatized, before people had even psychologically recovered and could be attuned to such a seismic change. Similarly, Iraqʼs economy was privatized immediately following the US invasion. Klein argues (with facts bolstering her every utterance) that this poisonous practice of forcing through harmful policies has become entrenched as routine in the aftermath of major natural or political disasters. Kleinʼs other books include No Logo.
Barbara Ehrenreich Barbara Ehrenreich is an author and activist. She writes award-winning columns and books, and is most infamous for her expose, Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America, for which her research included attempting to make a living as waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, aide, and Wal Mart clerk. The book is a jolting expose on how such jobs do not provide a living wage, and a damning treatise on our egregiously unjust economic system.
Gloria Steinem Feminist icon Gloria Steinem ignited the women’s equality movement in the 1960s and 70s through journalism and activism. She wrote columns for New York magazine and founded Ms. Magazine. Steinem continues to be active, in 2005 opening the Women’s Media Center with Jane Fonda in 2005, and persisting to this day as itinerant spokesperson on women’s issues.
“For women... bras, panties, bathing suits, and other stereotypical gear are visual reminders of a commercial, idealized feminine image that our real and diverse female bodies can't possibly fit. Without these visual references, each individual woman's body demands to be accepted on its own terms. We stop being comparatives. We begin to be unique.” (Gloria Steinem)
Verse, Visuals, InVectiVe, NarratiVes, ReViews, and InterViews by Wickedly Wise Femmes