SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like – A Review by Nicole Lyons

I fucking love poetry. I love good poetry, exceptional poetry, poetry that sits heavy on my chest and reaches down my throat to pull my own words out of my belly, and thank the goddess, in the era of the Instapoet and art without soul, Indie Blu(e) publishing and Candice Daquin have given us all a reason to fall in love with poetry again.

To say that SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like; Poetry by Women for Women touched me on a level that very few books have been able to reach, would not only be an understatement, but a massive disservice to the writers, editors, and publishers of this book.

From the cover design and the foreword, and my god, the opening poem ‘Lesbian’ by Avital Abraham, I was enraptured. How could one not be with words penned as exquisitely as this:

Lesbian is a monster.
Am I the monster?
Because oh,
oh god,
do I want that word to feel delicious.

And delicious is exactly what this book is. It’s delicious in its pain, delicious in its suffering, delicious in its acceptance and unapologetic love. The writers in this book have no doubt all faced their share, and then some, of feeling less than, being told they are less than, living as less than, all because of who they love.

For far too long any expression of love by women for women has been chalked up to either lukewarm hypocritical acceptance (it’s okay to be gay, but I hope you aren’t) or nothing more than erotic urges to be played out in most men’s fantasies, but SMITTEN smashes the hell out of those twisted views, and it does so with absolute stunning precision.

Like that bell
That got Pavlov’s dog to salivate
I rise to an intensity of longing
in the presence of a tall, sexual
Butch pristinely starched
pledged to sisterly friendship
she says, not the sort of wild
sunrise I ardently desire, still.

Henri Bensussen – from This Splendid Sunrise

SMITTEN is the book I will give to my daughters, not only to appreciate and cultivate their ever-growing love of literature, but to take a walk inside the mind of many someones who loves just as fiercely as they do, even if on the outside, that love looks different, or remarkably the same, as theirs.

SMITTEN is something to behold. The lines, the breaks, the breaths a reader takes between are both sharp and soothing. This book is bursting with the kind of breathtaking poetry and prose that knows no gender, no sexual orientation, no colour or country, only the collective sighs of literature lovers from all walks of life.

Whether you identify as a proud member of the LGBTQ2 community, an ally within, or someone not entirely certain where you stand on love, SMITTEN is a book you simply must read. Whether you’re looking for acceptance, understanding, something to change your mind, SMITTEN is by far the book to do al of it.

But of course, if you’re just looking for good fucking poetry, well then I have high hopes for SMITTEN and every writer cradled within its pages.

SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like: Poetry by Women for Women an Anthology is now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle editions.


You can read more of Nicole’s writing at Nicole Lyons

Featured Post: The Well of Loneliness – Candice Louisa Daquin

Getting ready for work
Bag on the table
files
filed
long 10 denier
black hose
so fine
makes legs look like swans
dark and sleek and endless
the way you’d like to be
dressed in costume
the person you want
gradually painted on
first the eyes, dramatic and smoky
lips full and plump the youthful devotee
cheeks pinched and shy
complexion covered with dye
hide the flaw
hide the truth
hide yourself
be someone new
getting ready for work
never ready for life
picking up habits of preservation
in the early morning light
what works here
what shows there
a fallen hem
a lost pin
shoulders too large
hips too narrow
breasts lurching to breathe out
an invert triangle
wiggling into yourself
trying to get out
of being legitimate
the role of responsibility
both necessary and loathed
a little toast, a little wine
the rattle of pills
medicated time
protecting ourselves from the glare
of the social climb.


Read more of Candice Louisa Daquin’s work at The Feathered Sleep and at Whisper and The Roar. You can also follow her Facebook – Candice Louisa Daquin & The Feathered Sleep.

Featured Post: Tipping the Velvet – Candice Louisa Daquin

“Watch me tonight won’t you?” she said like a little girl and I nodded my head as she walked through to the staff quarters of the club and I carried on straight ahead and showed my laminated membership card.

“How are you Lana?” the club’s cashier smiled a red lipsticked smile at me and gave me a kiss on the cheek “Doing good Josie, doing really well” I said, sounding more courageous than I felt, but at the same time, feeling every bit as good as I’d stated.

“Glad to hear it!” she chirped, her bauble earrings swinging, and I walked on through to the velvety darkness of the bar area, and found myself a corner table, close enough to the stage but set apart from other tables, where it was darkest.

“you always sat where it was most dark” a familiar voice said and I wheeled around to see the bartender, a beautiful young blonde woman, smiling at me. “How you doing?” I said, patting the seat next to me. “Can’t tonight Lana” she said, grinning, “it’s going to be a full house, we have new talent starting tonight and evidently she comes with a ready made fan club.” “Is that so?” I replied innocently, as she handed me my usual drink and I gave her a $10 tip in cash. “Thanks Lana darlin,” she replied already walking toward a group of customers who had come in and were finding seats near the front.

I settled back in my seat and the show soon started. The first girls were the usual, I knew them, nice girls, pretty and energetic but there was nothing there to hold my interest. Dominique didn’t come out until three drinks later, making sure we’d all paid our dues in bar credit and tips. The stage darkened and I heard her shoes first, tall and thin, shining in the darkness.

A blue light snapped on and I saw her skin, white as snow against the black dress she wore, her hair curled slightly against her neck, waving like a 1940’s movie siren. Her lips were a dark red, almost vampiric, her wrists bound in leather, her legs encased in long leather boots. She looked electrifying, a hush went over the audience, everyone’s eyes fixated on her, as French music lifted into the air and Dominique began to move. Her body was like liquid, as sensuous as cream, she turned and lifted to the sound, pealing her dress from her shoulders as she went. I found myself becoming terribly excited and tried to focus on anything else just long enough to satiate the burning between my legs but nothing worked, her magnetic pull had everyone transfixed, even the bar staff were watching her with a sort of curiosity, surprised that this newcomer had the power to reach out and grab us all in one soft movement. Her eyes seemed to be trying to find me in the darkness, she looked into the gloom from the soft glare of the blue lamp she danced under and we locked gazes, she was dancing for me.

I wanted her so much I ached all over, her hands were touching her own skin where I longed to touch, she cupped her small breasts inside their tight corset and pulled on her nipples to accentuate them under the see-through material. Her skin was taught like a young girls, she still had almost no body fat, she moved across the stage, touching herself, looking as pleasured as anyone could imagine being, a act yes, but such an act it entranced us. The music died down, she was still half-dressed but everyone felt she had been more naked than any dancer that had come before, see the trick with Dominique was, she could pleasure you without even giving you a thing.

Four more dancers and she returned, this time in her underwear, a different outfit, a dark almost brown-red lace. The panties were cut in a French style, with bits of silk clinging to her thighs, she wore the same long leather boots that pulled almost exquisitely tightly against the soft flesh of her thighs. She unpeeled long gloves, she removed her bra and her little breasts sprung out of the material like tiny upturned champagne glasses, the nipples dark and hard. It was this Dominique, as lovely as any woman I could ever have imagined that I had fallen in love with, me the consummate voyeur, used to seeing scores of women remove their clothes for money and able to remain detached at all times.

I had slept with some of the girls, over the years, taken them home and let them go between my legs in gratitude for the tips and kindness I had shown them. I had found ways to be inside them, ways to make them cry out for more of my touch, reversing the roles from voyeur to lover in a moment’s passion. But I’d never loved a girl, never let her inside my heart, never wanted someone as I had long wanted Dominique. I was the watcher, I had power, I didn’t let anyone touch me that deeply.

But this night she had me, as if I were collared and bound to her bed, she had me. I was as suppliant and hungry for her as I had been years before, she was as lovely and able to control me as ever. She removed her panties and turned away from me, I saw the lovely shape of her buttocks and tiny waist, I watched as she touched herself and came away wet and I knew it was because of me, I knew she was enjoying herself as much as I was watching her. The song ended, the audience almost too stunned to clap, money strewn on the stage, she walked off, only in her boots, her little breasts looking surprised against the cold of the evening.

I wanted to run to the bathroom and touch myself but I knew I would not do this, as I would not go back stage but wait to see if she came out to find me. I knew if she did, men would watch her, beg her to spend time with them, women would hate her, also want her, it would be difficult to command any time with her. But just as I had thought it might be best for me to leave my details at the bar and hope she would call me, I felt her hand on my shoulders and turning around I saw her, fully dressed and in her coat, waiting behind me as if we had a prearranged destination.

“Are you coming then?” she said smiling widely at me.

“You have the rest of the evening” I said looking at my watch that now read 10pm.

“That’s the perk of the job” she laughed “I get to set my own hours, and since I bring in more than all those others combined, well..” she looked toward the owner of the venue who was behind the cash register with a satisfied expression on his face “ I can do what I want really…”

“And what do you want?” I smiled in spite of myself.

“You know the answer” she said, taking my coat and pulling me out of my chair. “Don’t worry you don’ have to pay the tab, I have it covered” she said “the least I can do for my muse”

‘Your muse huh?”

“That’s right” she said, touching my lower back as we walked out of the bar, a hundred faces turned toward her “didn’t you know?”

“I didn’t actually” I said, smiling “ I should pay more attention”

“Oh I think you pay attention really well Lana’ she said, taking my hand in hers, ungloved, I felt the warmth of her flesh and tried not to melt, walking out into the cold and wanting her so badly I could not feel it.

“Where are we going?”

“Your place” she said, hailing a cab.

We rode in silence, she kept her hand in mine the entire way, I didn’t press it too tightly but I wanted to, it felt like a small bird although my hands are not big, hers are very delicate, like the rest of her she is built like a dancer, with high thin shoulders, a long narrow torso, slender legs and hardly any curves, she is grace personified, as long as a cool drink. She is bewitching with her long hair falling about her and her velvet eyes boring into you, there is nothing else you can notice or care about in her presence.


Read more of Candice Louisa Daquin’s work at The Feathered Sleep and at Whisper and The Roar. You can also follow her Facebook – Candice Louisa Daquin & The Feathered Sleep.

Featured Post: The Price of Salt – Candice Louisa Daquin

The King, he didn’t approve
Of willful girls who refused
His games of spite and egotism
Her value of salt became a breaking point
Of banishment and shame piled on top
Had she said … Gold. I love you more than riches and pearls
I value you more than saffron and silk
He may have forgiven her trespass
But salt? So plain and unadorned
Like her as she stood before him, making her case
For some it takes an actuality to contemplate
The true worth
Something she’d always known
When he ate his meal and roared at the cook
What kind of muck do you call this ??
They owned they used, not a pinch of salt
Without taste, lacking all substance
He realized late
The value of her chosen condiment
For gold builds nothing and salt is life
She is gone now and he has only his former ire
The moral of this tale reaches far and wide
When a woman loves a woman
Those places within others she must fight whom
Scorn her worth
Even the price they place, no value when she chose a mate
Sharing her gender
She had no right they said
To disturb the status quo, who wants to know?
About her sordid private life
And one in mock horror made mention of
The innate repulsion, thinking of two women in love
She said
As her salt sister before her
No you have it wrong
It is I who do not care a wit
If you should be uncomfortable in my company
Or seek to demean that which fills me with sea
And the moon as she glazes over, in swoon
For you can all go and stay away
We girls of salt shall determine to stay
Our shadows of brine and ocean deep
Impossible to puncture with ignorant needles
Be you hater or wishing to mock
She of salt shall have the last word
As in the fable when the king discovered
Real love rubs deep, not floating upon shallow surface
He saw his error in assuming worth
Can only be found in the simple cover
Rather than our skins filled with sea water
We beings of salt and fear and love and torment


Read more of Candice Louisa Daquin’s work at The Feathered Sleep and at Whisper and The Roar. You can also follow her Facebook – Candice Louisa Daquin & The Feathered Sleep.

That woman is me

The woman sat flaccid-bottomed on bath lip
squash of emotions beneath sturdy hips
pieces of her, no-one ever sees
water on full, hitting porcelain as drums beaten to recall
steam filling small room, obscuring
her grave emptying breasts as they urge to droop lower in hour
whisper of a nipple, against empty arms
when was the last time? She felt hands on her
lifting drummed grief within, recoiling of sadness for
blur and smooth music of touch?
Is she still a woman able to appeal?
or become the damp drying of paper walls
pealing and perishing with carved silence
and who would caress the broken parts of her
with equal ardor? Not minding
how her stomach rounded and slid
slightly sideways in its phantom gelatin mold
where the folds of her neck roosted
her opening legs a trust, erased
for she holds within herself an
eternity of scolds and loose threads
disliking the belch of flesh around her thighs
or the downward pull of stretched skin
marking its silver lines across her
like marauding seafarers
she is told she is beautiful
by those who over-use the word and
glut on dispelling fears like caged witches given
their freedom
but in her heart of hearts
where rosy trace of girlhood is long swept and vanquished
and mirrors are to be run past and shunned
the puckering of her forehead, and thin skinned clavical
knows the real scales of her drying self-hood curling inward
in its invariable regret
she is not the smooth melatonin
goddess of her dreams nor even young enough to stop
another heart with any part of her
physic movement or grace
yet she possesses still
a smile, pulled from depths, capable of
illuminating others darkness
and when she is not
angered by slouch of age and
hours spent hunched over making
worlds with words
withering in slow motion on the vine
of her choices and that stayed
moment she quit opening for sunlight
she remembers the fleet-footed
girl of yesterday, taken in the arms of those
who would give her ease from solitude
in their reverence of her youth
though, it is not now, now she is alone
the bath filling high and her wish
to step into hot water and be absorbed by fantasy
to be touched again in feelings now stored away
only taken out briefly when facing herself and
the strange quality of her diminishing reflection
a voice within
rarely permitted to verbalize
the absence and loneliness of her skin
for if it could speak
surely those words would, catch the damp of her
ardor and unsaid want and cry out
oh just once more! Let me feel the rounding
desire we take for granted in youth
a touch through time, relieving ache
of years spent sleeping, back to the wall
hands beneath pillows, unwanted in disappearing skin
the burning of such need
a fire beneath closed eyes
seeking refuge in other worlds
where you are as you were
and have always been
devoured by your passion
the feeling of you inside, reminding us both
of life abundant
without loathing nor reducing
that woman
reaching out
is me

She has grown out of herself – Candice Louisa Daquin

 

The girl, the gash, the glory
she was once even referred to as happy whore
sinister slut, fake good girl
the girl of multifaces
is no longer a girl
she has grown out of herself
the sharp thorns of her virginity
long bled
she is now a woman of dubious age
standing on the hemmed periphery of other girls with elastic limbs
their body language leans away, saying; she is no longer their sister
(they whisper, they whisper)
an aging divide
four and five, divide by nine
long multiplication
she has been subtracted out
something about the lines in her eyes
she’s not one of us, they say in collective pollen count
coming together like a quilt
leaving her to wade out into flat water
only five years ago, only less than that
when she had a full head of bright hair and nimble back
she somersaulted in their field
picking irises
and they did not bat an eye
she was under the radar
nar, nar, nar!
old enough to be mother to some
those angry girls with tight biceps and lungful of words
but they did not detect
the softening of her cleavage
the jello in her thighs singing its spring bulb
they only saw her pretending
thought her good enough and one of them
til the sickness left its indelible mark
a red hand print covering her left eye
the one she could not see well from
(Premature macular degeneration, you may lose your sight, the optician gleefully sung)
turning her with its yellow dusted baptism
honest to her guilt of years lived
I am four and five not divided by nine
I smell different to you
this is what men sense when they sniff around us like
wolves come from rain storm
instinctively keening toward the coltish and fawn
as we who are older turn like wine
another vintage they have no taste for
she could fool them well but did not, after her visit to Hades
wish to pretend to be a girl anymore
only a woman could have survived
and it was stamped as surely as Ash Wednesday
a third eye
the slow drain of life began
she saw it first in her hands, then her mouth
it did not so easily tell stories
when Spring came, they knew her truth
without saying anything, left her out
of their Mayday circle
all the light-footed snow rabbits and their daisy chains
now when she tried to join in
they circumvented her, like
she was a parent, a teacher, an elder
with respect, but no thought given
of her pattered exclusion
maybe she did the same, when she
had such halo radiance
just as boys turn to men and wish
to scoop up girls and remain
ever held in youthfulness
she saw her own extinction
in their slow passing over her gaze
she was becoming invisible
first her hair, then her arms, then her feet
gone into deep water and not returned
she swam out to the lighthouse
where piercing rays caught
undulated water like a lovers stroke
and by fevered spray of waves against rock
stared at her future like chain and ball
why does a woman have?
first the pummeling of her elders
constraining her flight?
then reigned condemnation of those
wishing to corset and divide
and finally, as she ages
the talisman of wisdom enveloping her
an unspoken rejection by her own sisters
who think themselves invulnerable
far removed, not tainted yet by
her approaching wither
til the only one left to speak
is her own voice
and in unblemished muslin sky
she becomes a single long tail bird
seeing everything
from on high
that lonely place
of insight and exile
how she longs still
to be pulled into the sewn circle
embraced by her daughters and shimmering girls
given the crown of daisies
led whirling and laughing
around mosaic may pole
like a girl who has remembered
her life before she was born
again clasping the soft hands
of future
fearful of nothing
in the rawboned bosom of her sisterhood

Neither you and neither me – Candice Daquin

 

Behind closed doors I am a different animal

I eat my food protectively and with great bites

I play dress-up and pretend

I am a typical only child used to a secret life

sometimes it is lonely and sad and often after

socializing I long to rid myself of the feeling of being

filled up with too many people and too many words

the reason I have few lines on my face is

I don’t speak for hours often gallivanting in my head

stories and themes and wonders

whilst outwardly impassive and calm.

When I was younger I loved to

wear fancy dress and make up stories and climb trees

when it became the time to give those things up

I did never find a suitable replacement

if I had my way I would dance and blow up balloons

eat cake and make love and little else

a hedonist with a conscience, one friend said

you care so much and then you wish you did not

people have always remarked upon how

well together I am, with my matching colors and my greese-proof make-up that doesn’t run when I scream

but it is absolutely a mask, clowns buy in bulk

one becoming a little threadbare as I

get out of practice and grow older

my hands resemble a milk maids and the times I have howled

show in the corners of my yawning mouth like apostrophes of regret

in the past I’d just have plaited

ribbons in my hair and worn a torn chemise

all the world would have said; Adorable!

But now, damn it, I want to be liked for who I am

not that miracle of long hair obscuring

layers and layers hiding, the girl beneath

who never did like how she looked

too masculine, too strong jawed, too high forehead

as I age I see the thin-lipped hydra smile of my dad more pronounced

vanity whispers; Botox and Rejuvaderm can solve that

yet I hesitate

something unbrushed and feral in my blood saying

don’t give up being wild and seeking the rheumatic lore

thinking in my mind of all my family, how

like short-lived butterflies they bloomed young and grew old fast

in things of skin and bone

but their spirits were always wild

like they continued to roam

and I love that

it’s the one thing about my legacy I am proud

when it is quiet and I am sorrowful and piteous

I think of my grandmother stomping in her big heavy boots

lines around her mouth from dragging on her fags

taking the dog for his seven mile walk

up into the heath we clambered

her giving me tips on avoiding a receding hairline (well coconut oil didn’t fix that)

whilst I longed to sneak off for a cigarette myself

we’re a nest of night tokers until we become unwell

or if there had been a lover, a little bit of slap and tickle

I was always unrestrained and apt to be naughty

she was exactly the same that I knew

we all possess a fierce loyalty to the idea of love

even if it disappoints

you might say

we’re a cracked family of romantics

ransoming reality for a second bite of cake

I smoke in my dreams

and I kiss you with closed eyes

I don’t want to be 34 or 73

even as we all shrivel and decrease

I long to find that diving pool again and

swim underwater long enough

when I emerge I am neither you

and neither me