about the editors Elizabeth Engel, currently a student at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, USA, got an
amazing birthday gift this year when Taylor Swift publicly announced that she identified as a feminist. Besides Taylor Swift, other things she loves include creative writing, followed closely by Richard Siken, great media representation, making people smile, David Levithan, her dog (an eleven year old bearded collie), and reading articles about YA literature and intersectionality. She has been writing prose from a young age, and has participated in three summer workshops since her freshman year of high school: Sarah Lawrence Writers Village (2011), University of Virginia’s Young Writers Workshop (2012-4), and the Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshop (2013). She has a bad habit of scheduling her life around concerts, and has a bookmark folder dedicated to cool things that happen in outer space. If you think Phyllis Schlafly is a good person you should probably never talk to her, but otherwise she loves meeting new people and would especially love if you wanted to recommend music to her.
Sariel Friedman is a first-year at Barnard College of Columbia University who splits her time
between Los Angeles and New York. At the moment, she hopes to major in Art History with a concentration in visual art and minor in English. She recently started Dollhouse Magazine, Columbia University’s first and only feminist literary magazine. In high school, she was the editor-in-chief of the award-winning Dark as Day Literary Arts Magazine and also founded an academic journal called Kollektiv. She was the first student in the history of her high school to be the editor-in-chief of two school publications and was awarded the Alton Bock Memorial Writing Award. Sariel was a graphic design intern at “Sawyer Studios” where she worked on advertisements for HBO’s “Girls” and PBS Kid “Super Why!” Sariel has designed posters and advertisements for companies such as Nike, ROSEGALLERY, Sam Francis Gallery The Museum of Letterpress and Touch Vinyl. Sariel has had her work published in The Los Angeles Times, Postscript Magazine and The Columbia Spectator, among others. Sariel’s favorite Beatle is George Harrison and her favorite movie is The Graduate.
Katie Paulson, originally from Madison, WI, is currently a freshman at Swarthmore College,
where she hopes to pursue English and Political Science. During the summer of 2013, she attended the Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshop, where she met co-editors Sariel Friedman and Elizabeth Engel. Katie spent this last summer writing a strange novella that crosses magical realism and existentialism, moving through her endless book list, honing her understanding of the grammar of Quenya, and, of course, organizing the third issue of the Riveter Review. At the moment, her favorite writers include Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy, and Harper Lee, all of whom have crafted beautifully complex, intriguing, and captivating female characters in their novels. Katie dreams of someday emulating these novelists and through writing demonstrating that women do not belong in the background of literature or, for that matter, the background of anything else.
letter from the editors Dear Readers and Contributors, We’re proud to present the fourth issue of The Riveter Review. The drawings and poems, photos and fiction, collages and articles that we’ve chosen to publish are remarkable both in their level of artistry and their ability to convey the power, importance, and respectability of (yes, all) women around the world. The three of us—the executive editors of The Riveter Review—are now entering our second semester of college and as we ponder gender dynamics in jobs, relationships, and life in general, feminism has gained greater importance in our minds, turning from an appealing theory to a very real tenet of how to live a respectable life. In addition, the death of Leelah Alcorn reminds us that feminism must be intersectional and support people of all races, sexualities, ethnicities, abilities, gender identities. Feminism is not only a movement of and for women; it is a movement of and for everyone who faces oppression under the patriarchy. The truth is that it’s nearly impossible to directly counter every degrading comment, every sexist intonation, every androcentric suggestion we face. At The Riveter Review, we hope to provide a sanctuary for the words we are too afraid or too tired or just too damn angry to say aloud. Thank you for your contributions and your support! Katie, Sariel, and Elizabeth
ON THE COVER: Heartbreaker, U.S.A Giselle Morgan
table of c Exploring Femininity Victoria Hollie Gourlay
v Kristina Elhauge
On the Coastal Edge of Eden Lindsay Emi
Pubescence Katia Kozachok
Frailty Rayna Momen Fruti Cuti Bridget Jackson Beasties Lacey Minot Eggs Naomi Radunski Pulled Victoria Hollie Gourlay Vanity Lindsey Bellosa You Suzanne Cope
Extreme Victoria Hollie Gourlay My Body, as a Utopia Lydia Havens Under Water Pressure Giselle Morgan Bric-a-Brac Tammy Robacker Advice for Your Daughterâ€™s Group Therapy Brittany Pellon Whole Person Kate McDonough Aurelia Mickey Betters
contents Cleaning Skills Victoria Hollie Gourlay On Taking a Man’s Name Sonya Vatomsky Girls Named April David Daniely Between the Pines Giselle Morgan Maira Carol Rossetti Cocoa Brown Darlyn Lojero On “Discharge” by Petra Collins Emma Seeley-Katz Study on Temptation Lindsay Emi
Girl Scout’s Pink Promise Giselle Morgan Five Fables Sonya Vatomsky Alex Emma Lesher-Liao After Magritte’s Attempting the Impossible Mickey Betters Twisted Victoria Hollie Gourlay My Heart in an Aspic Sonya Vatomsky iii Kristina Elhauge Isaura Carol Rossetti Silvia Carol Rossetti
Exploring Femininity “Exploring Femininity” shows how women can pick themselves apart in a mirror. Mirrors are a huge part of everybody’s lives, and women especially can be very conscious of their appearance due to societies influences. I used a mirror that had been decorated with cuttings out of magazines, depicting a contrast between beauty objects (mascara, nail polish etc), and quotes, “I felt helpless”. The dark space to the left of the photograph also enabled me to add text for the front cover. Victoria Hollie Gourlay
On the Coastal Edge of Eden Eve sits on the shore, grace pooling around her knees. Alone, she considers the rain of angelic accusations: godless, unholy, woman. Behind her stands a burning field, running red, like a city bombed. Why blame her when the whole world was temptation? She thinks. She tosses an urchin from hand to hand, thinks of how Adam called her thighs light, her ribs a mirror. She fears the future, fears that nothing could splice the garden from her body, summer from violence, home from herself. Lindsay Emi
You thought you could mold us like clay, sculpted into that awkward, distorted mess you call the perfect body. But we are only human. We cannot stand on our own as skeletons, skin and bone frames with a mouthful of rotting teeth esophagus eroding like Niagara eating away at the women we are trying to become but already are, too battered to realize.
y t l ai
We introduce ourselves with painted faces masked first impressions that hide our insecurities buying into impossible ideals concealing the flaws that make us who we are beautiful imperfections. And you wonder why we donâ€™t like what we see in our reflections. And I am trying to get you to wake up! to put that idealistic virgin with more than a handful in all the right places as far away from the children and your penis as you can so we can begin to restore the natural beauty you have stolen so we can look in the mirror and love every inch of skin color, face, shape, figure that we see. Rayna Momen
Fruti Cuti Bridget Jackson
Beasties These are illustrations from a project called Beasties (instead of “besties”) They’re about getting ready in the morning, self-assertion, and small decisions that seem big. Lacey Minot
Eggs Naomi Radunski We were in a hotel pub in an old mining town on the rail line running north out of Melbourne. It was a winter’s night and they had the potbelly stove glowing in one corner. Orange lamps along the walls made golden glints on people’s teeth and warm red spots on beer mugs. I like those pubs, I like them anywhere in the world, and I feel very calm in the midst of their ubiquity – not argue with it or wish it different, float along freely with whatever rises to the top. The old guy on my left told me he used to be a world-class golfer, second tier. He was the man you always meet in these bars, who once did something incredible but then his marriage foundered and everything went to shit. He said he was also an ace chef. He said if you can cook an egg you have mastered, and I quote, “the whole kitchen caboodle of culinarianism.” It was quite an interesting idea – souffle, sabayon, mayonnaise, fried, boiled, poached and scrambled, pickled, poached, fermented, béarnaise, meringue … The beer was cold, the place warm, and with a quarter of an ear cocked toward the old pro’s pitch, I began to think about the Station Hotel. ... Four years earlier I stumbled out of a train at Cahors station into blistering August heat and a pale haze of dust. Accompanied by my divorcée’s misery and a suitcase nicknamed ‘The White Man’s Burden,’ I gazed down the platform and prayed for help. The Burden was big enough for an adult corpse, made of thick black webbing invented by Americans for a desert war, and capacity-loaded with leftovers from a fancy, childless life: the stupid shoes, cashmere jumpers, and sensible underwear that sneaks into a marriage gone mouldy. I asked a woman in the ticket booth where she thought I should stay and she said the Station Hotel, a la sortie, and pointed generally behind and vaguely upward. She said I didn’t need a taxi, I could walk. At lunchtime in the French Midi, gods and porters go off to have their lettuce, wine and walnuts, and you can say any number of novenas, but you will schlep your bags yourself. Outside, the road crept up a hill at a sixty-degree gradient, and I went up with The Burden in tow, cursing the provincial heat and my stupid shoes. ... The Station Hotel in Cahors is nowhere as horrible as the same name suggests in cities like Leeds and Manchester. From white lace balconies purple bougainvillea leans down to kiss the red-tiled terrace where you breakfast beneath blue umbrellas. Beside the entrance, an old spaniel sleeps on his side. I signed the register and a man hauled The Burden upstairs. My room was long and narrow, cool and yellow as a Vermeer. Double doors opened to a Juliet and from there you saw the old town and river, and the white road unfolding down the hill. The air was completely still. I heard the round notes of cowbells. There was a circle-framed mirror on the far wall, beside the bed. I took off all my clothes and photographed my naked reflection. Behind me the balcony doors were open, and in the picture you see a frond of bougainvillea and the flawless sky. I was not going to weep because it was all so beautiful and I had the hard task of engaging with it alone. I would walk until I found the bell-garlanded cows; red, shiny cows in a field of silver and green sagebrush.
I would learn to sleep on the weird, tough bolsters they use for pillows. I would exercise the distaff side of my brain, the right side, the feminine. I would speak French, even though when I did, French people asked me what language I was speaking. ... At six-thirty I wandered down to dinner. The dining-room walls were bare except for a large, square Impressionist painting of a white egg in a white eggcup, on a white saucer, on a white tablecloth, on a gilded background, as if someone had
hammered down gold leaf all around the image. Nine tables were already occupied and everyone else looked pink, healthy and heart-breakingly entre nous. My table was waiting, with its single chair and priapic napkin. I sat down and opened my diary, pen ready. The maitre d’ paid me so much attention I thought he was engaging in some sort covert European style of flirting. He was an emaciated Spanish boy with a ponytail, and tiny weeny waist. He slid about the room in a sort of weightless, Michael Jackson moonwalk, orchestrating staff by meaningful glances and chin-wags. Later I discovered that owing to the journal beside my plate, he mistook me for a food critic. Brillat-Savarin said only savages fail to end a meal with cheese, so I passed on the famous tomato ice cream and asked for a cheese trolley. At my elbow the Spaniard placed a glass of iced Banyuls, a regional plum wine, sweet and brown, with cinnamon low-notes. I drank it with stinky, sexy sheep’s milk cheese called Langues. Langues … means ‘tongue.’ ... A few weeks later I had Banyuls in Paris, but it was nowhere near as good as at the Station Hotel. That was in the restaurant-next-door-to-La Tour d’Argent. The guidebook said it belonged to the head chef at La Tour, and you received the same view of the Seine, but for a fraction of the price. ‘How bad can it be?’ I thought, and decided to walk there along the river. The saving grace of the place was not the food – truly nasty confit de canard – but the immaculate river view, the wine and serendipitous company. At the table next to mine an elegant Turk and his wife were celebrating. A flutter of white tissue paper lay to one side, a minute turquoise shopping bag to the other. “Dreadful, isn’t it?” said the Turk, catching my eye and sympathetically tinking his knife on the edge of his dinner plate. He might have been talking about everything in the whole world, so I smiled and nodded agreeably. They invited me to join them. Traveling strangers seem to crave an audience for their experiences, and if they spy a single woman who looks, what – civilized? unthreatening to vigilant wives? – they will call her in as their witness. I don’t mind. It was their anniversary. They met in Constantinople twenty-five years earlier – young Moslem banker saves beautiful Jewish rebel from usurious money-changers, and before anyone could protest they were married and living Brazil. I raised my glass to each of them in turn. They shifted their chairs a little closer to mine – it felt like the kindest gesture in the world. We shared pink, blossom-scented Beaujolais from a bottle with butterflies on the label. It was so fabulous we ordered another couple of bottles and split the cost. The Turk told me he was the financial director of Xerox Brazil. He was fabulously handsome. A long, bony forehead, burnished bronze eyelids, a backward sweep of collar-length black hair, he was a Velazquez, a Dali. His wife appeared not to listen, but stared at his lips as if at any second she would reach over and kiss them. She was small and zaftig, with a snow-white chest and shiny black bob. I remember she had on a bracelet of white pearls as big as peeled radishes, with a diamond clasp shaped into the symbol for infinity. During our second bottle, M. Xerox described the arcane relationship on the international money market between the Brazilian réal and the ruble. I like the idea of money called real – it’s somehow like a joke – but it was fine stuff, listening to him tell it. And that Beaujolais could have morphed a train timetable into Keats. Xerox warned me to sell my réals tout de suite, because the ruble was about to collapse under the weight of the Russian economic Renaissance, taking the réal down with it — even though Brazil’s economy had never been stronger. I thanked him for the advice.
The three of us popped a third bottle and via a series of toasts proposed in turns, summarised our lives. We toasted the day they met and the end of my old life. We toasted the Seine and the bad confit de canard. We toasted their marriage and my divorce settlement. We drank to their only son and his future as a tennis champion. I told them about The White Man’s Burden and we all became hysterical and toasted the suitcase. Finally, we toasted world peace. To commemorate the road so far traveled, we shared a nightcap of the Banyuls, and we all agreed it was not a ‘city wine’. When the ruble crashed a week later I was grateful not to lose a single réal, never having had any to begin with. By then all my loose money was in pesetas, so I could buy a jamon roll and coffee at filling stations on the road to the Bay of Biscay. ... On that bus trip I succumbed and ditched the White Man’s Burden. Simply left it in the luggage hold and walked away. The contents had been expensive and I hope they gave them to someone who needed stupid shoes and sensible underwear. It can take six-hours from Barcelona to Bilbao, another two for standing-around time. It is all bland, blond country until it rises into red mountains and you descend to the town spread along a dull river, the Nervión. On one bank squats the Guggenheim Museum all sheathed in gleaming titanium scales, and surrounded by 16th and 17th century buildings. It has the same strange ‘rightness’ as Pei’s pyramid in the forecourt at the Louvre. From London, Holly had booked us into the Ritz-Carlton, which her sister said was the only hotel in Bilbao – meaning the only hotel countenanced by people who live in Belgravia. The twonight stay would wipe my budget off the page, but I could smell that bathtub and the little bottles of stuff in a white wicker basket. I signed in feeling under-dressed and unseen. I had no luggage, of course, just a daypack. . . . The door to my room was ajar and inside a corner light embraced a pair of leather chairs and a little table. Holly sat there, guarding an ice bucket and a bottle of Johnny Black. She had her red hair bundled up and trailing tendrils, burgundy boots and a little black jacket with a pink velvet collar. She examined me carefully. Shabby jeans and the daypack, hair and spirits flattened by eight hours on the road with bored Spanish men overtly discussing my assets and chuckling — how do they do that when they don’t even know each other? She held a golden glass toward me. She said, “Never mind, darling, now they hunt in packs.” . . . The concierge told us where to go for dinner. He said it was one of the best restaurants in the city. There is nothing else to say about the meal we had that night except, “Cods’ cheeks — avoid them.” . . . Two days later we stopped in San Sebastian so I could buy a new suitcase. It was green canvas stamped with gold fleurs-de-lis, moderately sized, with leather trim. A lovely chicane tracks the Basque coastline north and we clipped along digging the curves for three hours until we arrived in Hondaribbia, on the border with France. Our room was built right into the fourteenth century battlement wall. The town needed walls; it wouldn’t have taken thirty minutes to swim over some French horses and chaps with lances. The windowsill was a foot thick and we sat there and drank Scotch as the sun clocked out. We were above a tiny, cobbled plaza with a tree at its centre and beneath that a lamp and bench. As we watched, the lamp came on and a white dog with a red bandana wandered into the circle of light, sniffed around the bench and wee’d against a leg. Across the way, a curving arrangement of narrow, three-story buildings kiss-fit each other. One was cream stucco, the next ochre with white-framed windows, the third was all trimmed in
green but for a red front door. They were apartment blocks, perhaps had been for hundreds of years. In these villages change comes through at glacial speed, old stones are valuable. Anything new is built in estates on the outskirts, where the farmland used to be. One by one, lights came on in those buildings and people appeared, as if the flipped switches had turned them on as well. In one room, an old woman shrugged a dressing gown over her day dress, in another a man uncorked a bottle, filled a tumbler to the brim and cleared it in a draught. From an unseen crib a mother fetched up her baby, put it to a shoulder and stood in the window, swaying like a metronome. Across the still, dark divide we heard very faintly the baby crying. For dinner we ate delicatessen in our room, including the finest anchovies in the world, bar none. We continued with the Scotch because Holly couldn’t tolerate anything fermented, or was it the sugar she was intolerant of? Holly said she was getting a divorce. She said she had been trying to make the pieces fit for fifteen years. I was fazed to hear it because she and Robin had been married for fifteen years and I always assumed they were inured to their fate. Holly could be curt and overly logical, naturally suspicious of empathy, and at first she made it sound like a stock market sell-down. “I need to offload this before it gets too late,” she said. “Every year it gets more expensive in every single way.” But as she spoke on you could hear the decadeand-a-half’s-worth of fearful hanging in, and the anguish beneath the wriggling out. At last she said, “There’s nothing to hold on to, not even his hand on a cold night.” . . . By a vain stretch of the imagination people talk about the Victorian ‘Golden Triangle,’ west of Melbourne, as a sort of Australian Midi. It’s a ridiculous analogy, but in the right weather – winter, rainy – the country has a grumpy, Mallee-scrub vibe that can be quite romantic. That is why on weekends you find city people clustered round the village agency windows, gazing at property prices that seem very high to them, considering it’s the country. They are wondering if they could be happier here, where people seem cautious but kindly, you can smell woodfires and the health food shop sells fresh chocolate brownies. The Castlemaine Hotel has two sturdy stories preserved from the century before last. An iron-lace verandah hems the top floor and a long row of doors opens onto it. Once upon a time you could rent the upstairs rooms, but now the bearings are unsound and you mustn’t go up. Down in the pub with the orange lights you can order a fried steak and mashed potatoes, or schnitzel and fries, comforting salty-fatty fare. That night they also had meat pies; I asked a woman at the counter if they were house-made and she said they were not. Even so, I had a pie with peas and gravy, and draught beer. Holly was tuning her ukulele for a gig with the resident band. In a room behind me, her new husband was at the snooker table, under bright hanging lights. You could hear the balls snap together, and people laughing and shouting when someone took a good shot, or a really bad one. The old pro golfer placed a squashy-palmed hand on my forearm. He thought he might like to scramble my eggs, but only because he was bored, I was bored too, in a pleasant way that liked the ugly carpets, kids ducking in and out among the chairs and shadows, ceilings low and dark. I liked the double-bass player, a giant bloke with a red beard big as that of Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys. I liked to see Holly in her purple waistcoat, her red curls loose, her turquoise scarf and ruddy cheeks. It was winter and bitter cold out, but the old hotel had cranked up its regulars for a Saturday night. In a moment, the music would start and nobody would mind if I stood up and danced by myself.
This two-part series, â€œBody Manipulation,â€? looks at the way that women can feel my heart, as I have found that picking out my own insecurities and blemishes has for me. We, as women, are taught from a young age to hide the parts of our body pulling at the body to demonstrate the inner turmoil that a woman can go through these images, as I felt I could then relate to it more, and I could make this series m Victoria Hollie Gourlay
pulled apart by their own opinions on their body. This concept lies very close to s become almost a daily routine, and it was this photo series that highlighted that y that are not deemed “attractive” or “beautiful.” I used the image of tugging and h to either “flaunt what you’ve got,” or to “cover it up.” I used my own body for more personal, fitting in with what I feel.
vanity I am alone: blue-dark water, sashay of white trunk. Women are told: bring light, but softly, muted as spring leaves. It is unfeminine to be so alone. I quench my own thirstâ€” my beauty is for me. Its light, not being for others, is called vanity. Someday my skin will peel in silver strips. Leaves fall like hair, crisp with years. But now, time is still as my pure reflection. I enjoy it. I drink solitude: moon-pale, elusive as youth. Lindsey Bellosa
Burning at the Stake Giselle Morgan
You Suzanne Cope September 22nd You wake up at dawn to the sounds of drunken conversation and loud laughter coming through the only window in the bedroom. It faces the interior of a block of brownstones and apartment buildings, so you forget what time it might be when diffused sunlight is just starting to ooze into your shotgun apartment. You go to the bathroom and notice that your underwear is wet. You discover what can only be the bloody placenta that was once inside of you, attached to the tiny zygote with which you made acquaintance a few days prior, its beating heart like a twinkling star. Half-asleep, you squint, near-sighted and without your contacts, the light dim, and wonder if you should save it or flush it. You flush it and clean yourself until you see no more blood. You close the window and turn on the fan, and climb back into bed. Your husband grunts and turns over. “Baby,” you say. He mumbles what? “Just like I thought. I think I had a miscarriage.” He pulls your arm over his belly so you are spooning him. I’m sorry, He mumbles. Are you sure? You tell him about the wet, dark red matter. Remind him you were bleeding the day before. “I flushed it,” you say. “Did I do the right thing?” He pulls you tight to him and assures you that you did. September 21st “Do you think it’s alright if a have half a glass of wine?” you ask your husband and he happily pours it for you to the point you indicate, barely a third from the bottom. Just tell me when. You frown as your husband fills his own glass to the top. Throughout dinner – pasta and sauce you made from scratch – you sip slowly parsing out the liquid to last through the meal, finding a small consolation that being pregnant makes you savor your small amount of wine instead of quickly downing a glass or two. You think of another small consolation: you have been going to bed earlier, waking up mostly refreshed. You remember the twinkling star heart and think that you might be starting to get used to the idea. September 19th “I still can’t believe it,” you say to your husband for the twentieth time. “Where are we going to live?” You have been dividing your time between two cities for the previous year, with a recently moved-in roommate in the house you own just outside of Boston, which helps to keep down costs. You are in the car, somewhere in Connecticut on your way to Brooklyn, where you live in a sublet and sleep in someone else’s bed on someone else’s sheets all in an effort to advance your careers – your husband’s as a songwriter, yours as a writer of words. Let’s not think about that now. He says. We have time to decide. But then he asks what you think about the name Etta. You say you like it, then offer the name Lily. “But I bet you it’s a boy,” you say with a laugh. As long as he is smart like you, your husband says. “But as talented as you,” you respond and take his hand. “His middle name with have to be Edward,” you say. He agrees and squeezes your fingers with his strong grip. After both of our fathers, he smiles as he looks down the highway. September 18th You and your husband have been at the women’s health clinic since 9am. You had to cancel class; he would rather be in his basement studio working on a rare scoring job that could earn him a few hundred dollars. Money you could use. But that money is a bit less urgent since you had visited the clinic the previous week and the doctor extracted some fleshy matter sticking out of your cervix and you were told you were having a miscarriage. But then the nurse had left an urgent message. When you called her back she said that the fleshy matter was not the remnants of your pregnancy. You had to come back to get to the bottom of things. A blood test that morning had said your pregnancy hormones were on the rise. Another doctor was sending you down to ultrasound. He explained that it was unlikely but possible that your pregnancy was still viable. That depending on what they saw you might need another procedure to remove what was left. That some
times hormone levels increase before they decrease. That there was also an extremely unlikely but possible scenario that they might find something else that needed immediate attention. Within moments of spreading warm gel on your belly the ultrasound technician shows your husband and you your baby’s beating, sparkling heart. You turn to your husband and say, “Holy shit.” He says, It looks like a twinkling star. September 12th “You might feel some cramping,” a doctor you have just met says before extracting a finger-length fleshy protrusion from your cervix and then handing you a large diaper-like pad. “I’m sorry.” You are asked if you want to look at it and you decline. You are then asked to sign a paper that says it is ok if they dispose of it in the typical manner. You sign your name. You are told if bleeding becomes excessive to call them immediately. Walking out of the clinic to where the car is parked your husband kisses your cheek and takes your hand and says, We really dodged a bullet there. August 29th You are supposed to be finalizing your syllabi for your college classes that you start teaching the following week, but all you can do is think about how your current state has complicated everything. You have a book to write – and maybe, miraculously, an agent for your dream project. You have plans to travel to Los Angeles over the winter, where everyone is skinny and fabulous. You haven’t saved enough money – for anything. Your health insurance won’t cover anyone but yourself without quadrupling. You have just reconnected with two unmarried high school friends and have plans for dinner parties and late-night dancing. You have just started going to yoga again. “Just a few extra months,” you tell yourself and your unborn child. “That’s all I need.” August 22nd “Honey, do you think there is a baby in there?” you say in jest, pushing your ever-so-slightly-engorgedseeming belly into his. “I’m just going to take a pregnancy test.” He laughs and opens a bottle of wine. You have just returned home from meeting friends for happy hour, but had only felt in the mood for one watereddown sangria. You had the feeling for the past week that something was amiss – you had at first attributed your late period to your recurring PCOS, a condition that made your cycle irregular and, thus, conception more difficult. But your method of birth control could also be described as the “casual rhythm method” – hardly foolproof. Despite your yoga and gym regimen your belly was bigger, your breasts fuller. As you head to the bathroom you joke, perhaps too heartily “Honey, we’re too young to have a baby!” You are 34 and your husband more than a decade older. You both are professionals, have long discussed a future with children. Had, in fact, discussed your decision of the past year to throw caution to the wind when it came to birth control. You are surprised at your own reaction to the possibility that you might be pregnant. When you pee on the stick and the blue cross shows up almost immediately you are incredulous. “Honey, I’m pregnant,” you say as your husband hands you a glass of wine, your voice serious. How could that happen? He asks. Maybe the test is wrong. You assure him the test isn’t wrong while secretly hoping that the one you intend to take as soon as you wake up the next morning shows two non-intersecting blue lines.
v Kristina Elhauge
Pubescence to be a dryad is to form some kind of metaphor about insomniac girls who rub rouge on their cheeks, pray to Krishna in hopes of resurrection, I am instead an ode to the echoes of silence Katia Kozachok
Extreme Victoria Hollie Gourley
My Body, as a Utopia I have made this clear to my family: I am not taking hour long walks every morning to feel pretty. I am not gathering dried mango slices, cold water bottles, and vegetable patties to feel pretty. I am not burning off these 70 pounds and scattering their ashes into the desert to feel pretty. I’m already pretty. These 70 pounds are leaving because I am tired of choking on staircases. I am tired of feeling like my body absorbed a cemetery. I am tired of back aches, interrupted oxygen, my doctor’s abrupt handwriting, my doctor’s slow-burning stare. The word “unhealthy”-- it is haunting. That word roams in so many directions at once. We pluck it from the girls with stomachs like Jupiter, the girls who make dance recitals out of their thigh gaps. As if that’s any of our business. Today I find out that I’ve lost seven pounds. Nine pounds away from what The Biggest Loser would tell me is “One-derland”. God help me if I ever begin to believe that the weight someone else wants me to be is paradise. I want bodies to be seen as Utopias. I want my dream vacation to take place right in my own skin. I will write a lease that never expires, all under my terms. This body, it is my home. The love I have for it is no secret. Yes, today I am unhealthy. But just because I am does not mean that the next girl you come across at 215 pounds is as well. You did not get a key to the front door for a reason. Let this be mine. And let that be hers. Lydia Havens
Bric a Brac
You are my cuckoo clock. My woody reminder. Cock-
a-doodling, peckish bird. Übermensch perverted world behind the small door trap that props open a dark flap. You flag me back to rest deep in your Black Forest.
I’m derided for the last time. Down the hall, you chime your crime. Old vulture, you’ve clucked too many years of this muck— all the women you pushed. You wrecked. You shushed. They smile in aprons and pearls, with lips licked shut as spit curls. In rustical portraiture, heads are hung. My dead mother’s come unstrung. She knows I’ve framed you. We are ashamed of you. This secret is no longer stuck. The final hour has struck. Tammy Robacker
Under Water Pressure Giselle Morgan
Advice For Your Daughter’s Group Therapy Brittany Pellon It always sounds better in your head, so let it die there, among all the friends you thought were saints. Try not to be harder than you have to be. There is no safe space to cultivate your fears here; the world will do all the wearing for you, you needn’t be frivolous with the ways you have learned to maim. Collect consciousnesses carefully; it is a more powerful force than love, it may mimic the shape, but does not last for long. Bear an open mind, an open heart, children and arms with equal distaste for war. Your body is always the terrain they rape and wreak havoc on, you do not need to propagate such violence. This is why God gave you wide hips, but a discerning mind. Your economy of torture, oh woman, is in love not in death. We lose everything in death; you take nothing with you. It is a blessing not a curse to die with an unfreighted heart and heavy hands. Blessed be if those hands are small and adorned with the white lines of every falter you endured at the hand of some fruitless attempt of a man. You can save no one. Stop trying before you are the final words on everyone’s headstone. They will never remember what you gave to them; but like the ocean all they will tell of you is of your vastness, your tendency to run and to return.
Do not stop lending your fluid heart. But do stop seeking praise for being the only one acting like a human being. To care without agenda is inhuman, to fall in love as a formality is human; you are an inhumane heart that leaves wreckage and carnage on the shore. You wanted nothing, so you got everything, be gentle on them: they are learning you as you are learning them. Be patient: you cannot deny your affiliation with the sea. And the ocean is only loved in an admitted defeat; one heart at a time, then suddenly all at once - your time will comewhen you no longer echo an ocean. Be slow to swallow the dust left settling from hasty forgiveness, to forgive is to grieve. Grieve the loss of an autonomy, every apology is a little piece of yourself sacrificed for someone elseâ€™s benefit, and they have no obligation to cherish that offering. Do not seek comfort in closure, it will not come. Apologize sincerely and profusely: even when youâ€™ve done nothing wrong. You will learn that a bowed head and a bended knee are positions of power not of subordinance. You always lose the battles in favor of winning the war. Your name is not an apology. Your apology has only one name. Do not waste time trying to unravel the two, you will know when letting go has become a mastered art form. Keep your fingernails clean, keep the whiskey cheap, and when you die, I hope that every person who ever took shelter in you, smiles at the loss of such a divine home. And for those who do not remember the space they occupied on your shelves, in your bed, on your playlists, and on the window sills- a permanent burning on their breast bone. Hot like a stove top, though they will sustain no burns, you will keep them human despite their best attempts at playing dead.
Whole Person Kate McDonough
Aurelia How easily a body becomes an anomaly should offset how anomalous a body can become My gut a bloom of warm ovaries with flustered little stems kind of raveling a cavity being for a taking in how a single cell can swarm a cilia-rimmed bell The brutal female Punching a hole in the wall, a phallic tulip. Once to transgress, she sat at home letting herself bleed through her underwear. How exists in the often dark my making my body a different one. Mickey Betters
Cleaning Skills Victoria Hollie Gourlay
and I bought a hat like the one you wear in your photos -- the exchange will be easy We all have things we don’t get back I am taking your name because it’s funny, the way that some things so spectacularly do not work out Who died and made me anything? Don’t ask And a gavel’s a hammer, like everyone has As for the rest, well, I can’t give out all my secrets But suffice it to say I know what I’m doing I am taking your name and not giving it back I am burying it deep-dark, no tombstone, no eulogy Some oubliette in wet dirt will open, swallow it Keep you from ever being invoked again Sonya Vatomsky
On taking a man’s name
I am taking your name for myself and I mean it. I’ve got the paper-work done
Between the Pines Giselle Morgan
I bet there have been a million poems like this one, painting an imaginary face to an arbitrary name leaving the rest to the reader to fill in the gaps, to make her beautiful, to give her personality. There have been many poems as an ocean full of salt and rock breaths life from its waters still. Im sure you read them. I am sure you have as a matter of collective faith: developed a face, a pair of eyes , a gesture of reassurance with a granted smile whose color and content bend the california sunlight away from the windows and into her breath. And before I even know her, I know her. And the reader (my gracious and patient friends) in your infinite genius will paint the great poem from the simple colors of a name, and its weight and memories of girls and Aprils. Guided by consensus, we have uncovered the great and savage lie of the world. There is no one, No April No Anne No Alice. Just left over paint, and a brush whose bristles have been all but singed. David Daniely
Girls named April
Maira Carol Rossetti
Cocoa Brown Quick and effective: a bottled end of otherness. glutathione, arbutin, vitamin c and papaya extracts whiten intensively. rub off thirdworldness. SPF 25 will protect me from what you called my tropical exoticity. Quick and effective: a bottled promise of sameness. Apply generously to the body. Massage till the cococa colored hide softens and peels off. White. Pink. Other than this is exotic. -but sister, cocoa brown, like rich black is beautiful. We are not Other beautiful beauty. Sister, you may take your whitening lotion back. Darlyn Lojero
On “Discharge” by Petra Collins When I arrived at the door to the building that houses the Capricious 88 gallery, I was sure that there had been some mistake. Located at the edge of Chinatown and sandwiched between a run-down bodega and an elderly center, 88 Eldridge Street is about as obscure as a New York City gallery could possibly be. I took the elevator up to the fifth floor and walked a long, white corridor to Capricious. I stepped inside and was hit by rays of cool sunlight shining in from the lofty windows and reflecting off of some of Petra Collins’ framed artwork. There were a few young women working on laptops in an office space on the far side of the room, and some people milling about, examining the exhibition. I checked out Petra’s dreamy, feminized canvases, her unabashedly flashy neon signs of song lyrics and melancholy iMessages, and the rest of the gallery, but what I was drawn to the most were the three pairs of underwear that sat on a display in the center of the room. They were stained with what seemed to be period blood, and they were so close I could have touched them. I was fascinated by this juxtaposition: the ultimate taboo is put in such an accessible, central setting that you have no choice but to examine, to think, and to reflect on just why menstrual blood is taboo (hint: the patriarchal view that women’s bodies are different, and therefore “icky,” and therefore should not be talked about or looked at, not ever). People get all weird or grossed out about blood getting all over everything but it’s such a normal, not disgusting thing that happens to like everyone all the time. It’s cool and beautiful, and Petra reminded me of that. It actually makes me kind of emotional to think about Discharge, because it makes me so proud to be a woman with ovaries and the ability to MAKE BABIES and have all these amazing women in the same boat as me. I’m tearing up. (On an unrelated note, I got my period this morning). As I made my way out, I signed the Capricious guestbook alongside Petra’s artistic friends who are often featured in her artwork and her Instagram photos (@petrafcollins) and of course, the lady herself. Awesome. Discharge was on display from February 28 to April 27. If you want to learn more about Capricious 88, check their website out at https://becapricious.com/pages/capricious! Emma Seely-Katz
Study in Temptation Once our life had been one-way glass, sweep of sunlit theater, overture playing like a tidal surge; we were family built of white froth. My husband was all mouth and hum and promise, lilted his vowels, sang the sound of copper chimes and everything he touched became origami, paper birthed into animal limbs, feral and folding-One night I dreamt a deck of fifty-two aces. He came home to us smelling of ash and coin while the children rotted like fruit under fluorescent light, motel room, backseat of a getaway car that never was, and none of us could account for our love. Lindsay Emi
Girl Scoutâ€™s Pink Promise Giselle Morgan
Girl Scoutâ€™s Pink Promise Giselle Morgan
Five Fables 1. Thetis is marrying Peleus so he can join her insurance plan. (He habitually puts off going to the doctor and now has multiple health issues and no insurance of his own because he is an independent video game developer.) Eris, Goddess of Discord, arrives at their wedding with a golden apple, which is inscribed with the Greek for to the most correct one. She rolls the apple gently towards the male wedding-guests and a riot breaks out as they scramble for it; this is actually how the Trojan War starts. 2. Koschei the Deathless and Vasilisa the Beautiful are in a passionate, consensual relationship, infuriating Ivan who cannot understand why women never date “nice guys” like him. He goes to the oak tree under which Koschei’s mortality is buried and digs up a large chest. Out of the chest hops a rabbit, which Ivan kills. From the rabbit flies out a duck, which Ivan also kills and serves at his farm-to-table gastropub. Out of the duck falls an egg (organic, probably quail), inside which is a golden needle. Ivan never learned to sew because it is a woman’s job so he takes the needle to his mother Ludmilla, who admonishes him thoroughly. 3. A group of teenage boys is snickering in a dark bathroom. “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary,” they chant. Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary. A chill passes over them, and bell hooks appears in the mirror. She yells, “If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” 4. Hansel and Gretel find the witch’s house after hours of being lost. She invites them in, generously offering to drive them home after they help her cook dinner. The witch is a trained chef with years of experience, but Hansel immediately pulls a bottle of Sriracha from his knapsack and says “You will love this, I promise.” It’s a family recipe, the witch tells him, patiently. It doesn’t go well with hot-sauce. “Whatever, I have no idea what you are cooking but I KNOW it will be delicious,” says Hansel, as Gretel and the witch give each-other a nod of solidarity and push him into the oven. 5. After chatting briefly on Tinder, Bluebeard and anglerfish420 arrange to meet at a trendy cocktail bar. The date goes wonderfully and they return to Bluebeard’s condo for a nightcap. “I have to pee,” Bluebeard says, “but make yourself at home. You can drink my bourbon, and watch my Hulu, but please — please, I am begging you — do not go into the room at the end of the hall.” As soon as he closes the bathroom door behind him, anglerfish420 gets the fuck out of there. Sonya Vatomsky Alex Emma Lesher-Liao
s ’ e t t i r e g h a t M g r n i e t t Af emp ible t s t s A po Im
My stomach is turning grey. I stay still for being gazed upon. A boy colored my thigh with a green marker; my father didn’t let me ride the bus again. The men are a series of gestures in a process he will not know. It is a limp palette. About everything my mother says it’s important how it’s done, as if she is holding the brush to the navy shadow of my breasts. It’s important how the arms become pointing, a simulation of the female nude stomach turning torso grey except the nipples, a complexity of shades: tongue, finger, thigh; the flatness of a point of origin. Still for the brush in attempt, I stay being gazed upon like a box of ash and bone that I was not allowed to tell was hidden in my mother’s closet. I see it in ashtrays.
Twisted Victoria Hollie Gourlay
My heart in aspic
Some thoughts, they have a knack for overstaying. The dinner is done, crumbs swept up, stains blotted liqueurs brought out and drunk dry but you won’t look at the door, and I? Who am I to tell you to go when I keep resentment like a fugitive warm & nourished in a spare room? We do our best, or we don’t. We gnawed the cold universe to the rib, left white bones strewn about the tablecloth; killed flies. One, then two. Three. Four. A witch can only be burned so many times before she thinks, hmm, something has got to change here. I’ve been soup that charred black to the pot, I’ve made the mistake of listening when I should have cursed I salted for flavor and not against ghosts I am Russian; I ate cold tongue before I knew how to kiss. Sonya Vatomsky
iii Kristina Elhauge
Isaura Carol Rossetti
Silvia Carol Rossetti
Contributor bios Lindsey Bellosa lives in Syracuse, NY. She has an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway and has poems published in both Irish and American journals: most recently The Comstock Review, IthacaLit, The Lake and Nine Mile Press. She has won awards for poetry in the Red Poppy Review summer poetry competition and the CNY Pen Women competition. Her first chapbook, The Hunger, was published with Willet Press in 2014. She considers feminism to be synonymous with human rights and hopes her writing furthers its efforts at education. Mickey Betters is a poet, editor, and activist living in Boston, MA. She recently moved from Brooklyn, NY, where she graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in poetry. While there, she was involved with on-campus feminist groups as well as other city-wide organizations. Since moving even farther north (what?), she’s started working as the art editor of Redivider Journal, a magazine of new literature and art. She’s also currently working on her MA in publishing at Emerson College. She was trolled and hacked by some Mens’ Rights accounts on Twitter back in August, and she’s decided this only adds to her feminist street cred. Suzanne Cope has published essays and articles in The Journal of Compressed Arts, Blue Lyra Review, New Plains Review, Culinate, and Edible Boston, among others. Her upcoming nonfiction book Small Batch will be published this fall (Rowman & Littlefield). She earned a PhD in Creative Nonfiction Pedagogy and an MFA in Creative Writing, both from Lesley University and is working on a project questioning the cultural narrative of pregnancy. Suzanne teaches writing at Manhattan College and is proudly the breadwinner of her family of three. Lindsay Emi is sixteen years old and a junior at Viewpoint School, CA. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine Review, theNewerYork, the Young Poets Network, and elsewhere. She has also attended the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, the Kenyon Young Writers Workshop, and theThe Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program. She enjoys studying the societal, cultural, and political implications of historical and modern-day feminism in both her academic studies and her writing. Victoria Hollie Gourlay is a 17 year old photography student at Gower College Swansea in Wales. Victoria developed her passion for photography when she discovered she couldn’t draw- so decided to pick up a camera instead. Her work has slowly evolved to become incredibly personal, depicting her own personal concept of feminism, as well as experiences she has faced being an outspoken, against the grain girl. She has currently held her own exhibition for a week, sold some photographs, is the college student photographer and runs the Gower College Feminist Society, along with two great girls. She focuses on topics such as present and past beauty standards, the concept of femininity and challenging it, as well as looking at what it means to be a woman in present day society. She hopes to continue making feminist art for many, many years in the future. Lydia Havens is a 16-year-old queer girl from Tucson, Arizona. She first became a feminist after years of observing the different misogynistic pressures put on different women, and after realizing she was tired of being seen as an object. Today, Lydia is passionate about body positivity, LGBTQIA rights, and destroying the male gaze. Feminists like Laverne Cox, Beyonce, Tavi Gevinson, Ma
lala Yousafzai, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie inspire her everyday. Her work has previously been published in burntdistrict, FreezeRay, Vademecum, and other places. Besides poetry and feminism, Lydia loves makeup, the desert, and her orange tabby named Felix. Katia Kozachok is a sixteen-year-old writer, editor, thinker, and activist living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She attends Perpich Arts High School for writing; in other words, she’s lucky enough to be a part of an incredibly feminist, queer community of engaged peers on a daily basis. Katia is passionate about writing, feminism, and other similar ways of changing the world. She’s been a feminist for years, and proudly identifies as such. She’s a part of her school’s feminist club and GSA. Her writing involving feminism has been published in ThreeSixty Journalism and Birdee. When not writing, she edits writing submissions for Polyphony HS and Siblini Art and Literature Journal. Darlyn Lojero was born on August 20, 1991 in Taguig, Philippines. She is teaching English language and Philippine Literature at Western Bicutan National High school, Taguig. Her poems appeared in online newsletters like Dual Coast Magazine, Poet’s Haven, Kalyani and Cosmofunnel. She loves writing and painting. She believes that visual art and poetry aren’t only for people to express and be understood, but are means for them to hear and to understand themselves. Born in a country with conservative values and superstitious belief melded with many foreign cultural influences, she had been often faced with the questions “who am I?” and “which is me?”. Like many Filipinas with multiple cultural orientations, she is not just torn between two identities but spliced into several pieces that make up her personality. She had grown being viewed and rated according to various standards of what a young Filipina should be. She believed that she is all of those pieces, yet she is neither of those pieces. And to find herself, to make amends with her lost voice, she continues to weave words and draw images. Kate McDonough is an illustrator. Right now for her, being a feminist means learning to love and accept herself as a woman and a person. She has struggled with social anxiety and self-esteem throughout her life. In the past couple of years she has finally started to look at herself objectively instead of comparing herself to magazines and the women around her. She’s been creating comics to express the thoughts she’s had as she tries to cope with anxiety. Humor has been a way for her to connect with other people and other women. Rayna Momen is an androgynous, feminist poet, sociologist and activist currently residing in Morgantown, WV, where she was born and raised. She advocates for minorities and other marginalized groups by actively taking a stand against the injustices she sees, and uses poetry as a means of challenging dominant ideologies. Her poems have appeared in Skin to Skin: The Art of the Lesbian, Issue 01. She is a member of Morgantown Poets and the Morgantown Writers Group. Giselle Noelle Morgan is a California transplant currently residing in Tacoma, Washington. After studying Petra Collins, Sally Mann, and Sofia Coppola, she picked up a camera and slowly began to evolve her own style which grew simultaneously with her feminist beliefs. She balances college with contributing to collectives and zines such as Bitchtopia, Cherry Mag, and Strawberry Jam Collective. She focuses on attempting to show that everything teenage girls don’t want to be visible is visible, whether it’s acne or menstrual blood, and the things that we’d prefer to be seen, like our daring dreams, beauty, or sexual organs remain hidden inside. Her photography is meant to demonstrate what it’s like in the mind of nineteen year-old girl; the inner dialogue in the early morning, the heartbreak after a perfect drive ends, the deconstruction of childhood, and the constant change of personality, diet, and feelings. She aims to give a sense of nostalgia, longing for escape, and silence in a still image.
Brittany Pellon lives and works in Brooklyn New York. Her art revolves around diaristic storytelling,as well as sharing collected stories and experiences She looks to elucidate the life and times of young women as well as herself, propagating their stories and making them known to the public. Through the process of art making and publication she establishes a strength and connection between herself and the women she draws inspiration from; by putting the final products into the public sphere she hopes to illustrate a multifaceted view of women and their lives in contemporary times. Naomi Radunski is a writer, visual artist and baker from central Africa, then migrant to Australia where she now lives on the north-east coast. Of her life journey, family has said, “You have always done exactly as you please, so don’t complain” – as if doing as you please both entices and deserves punishment. She has traveled on every continent except South America, loved and been loved, endured a post-grad education, and still considers herself an autodidact. Now it’s time to see if ‘doing as you please’ has yielded anything interesting for women who are the fruit of the feminist tree. Tammy Robacker served as Poet Laureate of Tacoma, WA in 2010-11, and she is a 2011 Hedgebrook Writer in Residence award winner. In 2009, Ms. Robacker published her first collection of poetry, The Vicissitudes. Tammy’s poetry has appeared in WomenArts, Comstock Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Columbia Magazine, Floating Bridge Review: Pontoon, and the Allegheny Review. Her poetry manuscript, We Ate Our Mothers, Girls, was selected as a finalist in the 2009 Floating Bridge Press chapbook contest. Currently enrolled in the MFA program in Creative Writing at Pacific Lutheran University, Tammy is working on a second poetry collection. Visit the poet:www. tammyrobacker.com or www.pearlepubs.com Carol Rossetti is a 26-year-old illustrator and graphic designer from Brazil. She despises the world’s attempts to control women’s body, behavior and identity; so she’s started a series of illustrations in a friendly tone hoping to reach people about how absurd this really is. She’s also a frenetic reader, cinema enthusiast, chocolate lover and constantly in love with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. A 15-year-old living in Newport Beach, California, Emma Seely-Katz is a fervent believer in the feminist ideals instilled in her at a young age by her family and role models such as Tavi Gevinson of Rookie magazine, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, and Patrick Stewart, one of the coolest actors in the business. Emma is the Opinion Editor for the Junior Statement,a nationwide newspaper dedicated to informing high school kids about current political issues and she often writes for various publications, advocating for gender equality, abortion legality, and same-sex marriage rights. She is especially passionate about banishing girl hate, and establishing a strong, safe community among Generation Y women. Between watching old episodes of Daria on her laptop and crusading against ignorance in her high school classrooms, Emma watches an obscene amount of pro-feminist TED Talks on YouTube, interspersed with reverent playing of her favorite songs by Bikini Kill or Joan Jett. Sonya Vatomsky is a Moscow-born, Seattle-raised writer and poet. An introvert, she balances her time between being active in several (online and local) feminist communities and cooking elaborate five-course dinners for herself, alone, in the dark. She is interested in how a nearly all-male literary canon has shaped the worldview and affected the self-actualization of women and works to add her own voice to the noise, proving that women can aspire to something other than side-plots and muse-hood. She also once killed a social gathering in fewer than 15 minutes by answering “name one thing that men are bad at discussing” with “rape.”
The Riveter Review is a literary arts magazine that celebrates feminist creative work. This is our fourth issue.