There Is Strength in Our Stories: Over her shoulder – Sarah Bigham

If only she could carry seven
Classes worth of books to avoid
The lockers where he waited
To grab her while the others
Snuffled and his girlfriend
Apologized for his behavior
But no one stopped to help

Arriving at a party that was
Supposed to be fun where a row
Of grown boys in khakis and
Polos all drinking beer
Rated the “harem chain”
With alternating pack hunger
And audible disdain

How did he hide the
Strength in his arms and large
Palms that braced her head and
Sick fascination with teens
His grandchildren’s age
That horrible tongue
Of a man of god

The phone would ring
At her desk
While she worked
The strange laughter
Felt sour in her breastbone
As he said
I’m in front of your house

(Originally published in the anthology, Daily Abuse)


Sarah Bigham lives in Maryland with her kind chemist wife, three independent cats, an unwieldy herb garden, several chronic pain conditions, and near-constant outrage at the general state of the world tempered with love for those doing their best to make a difference. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, Sarah’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of great places for readers, writers, and listeners. Find her at www.sgbigham.com.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: I Will Rise – Layla Summers

I can still feel his hands on me
Grabbing too roughly
Holding too tightly
Leaving a lingering sting
Long after the slap on the face

I can still hear his begging
The pure disappointment
No -that’s too kind a word-
The disguised fury
When I said no to sex

I can still feel it
How he decided to fuck me anyway
How he kissed me
Making me gag on his tongue
How he’d bite my neck
How he’d do anything
Until I gave up

I can still feel it
His jaws clenched way too tight
On my breasts

I can still hear him
Sounding so pleased
So thrilled with himself

He was my first true
“Relationship”
And yet I was his prisoner
His plaything

I vividly remember the last time
I remember the rage in his eyes
Because I didn’t want to have sex
5 days before my birthday,
The anniversary of the first time I was raped
At twelve years old,
But he didn’t care
And he fucked me anyway
Because I’d “been doing fine”

What he doesn’t know
Is I am a Phoenix
And I will rise from the ashes
Of my broken self


I am a poet, author, and playwright. I have been writing for almost seven years as a way to cope with my traumas and bipolar disorder. Now I use my writing to show others they are not alone. My writing can be found on Wattpad under HealingTatteredWings. By overcoming the past, we can do more than survive. We can all thrive together. My heart goes out to all those who need someone there for them.

We, the broken – Jesica Nodarse

Im not sure I have the words to explain
Even my vast vocabulary fails me
I should be used to it
Ive been here many times before
We, the broken.. forget what its like to be whole 
So please bear with me
My compass has turned off
The sun rose from the West
And its rays emit an eeriely cold glow
Even the maps refuse to unfold
I’ll overcome
Time and again
Its all I’ve known
Somewhere along the line, the purpose will make itself known
Till then ..
I’ll be here
Nowhere at all

Jesica Nodarse
Artist unknown (Pinterest)

For Strong Women- Marge Piercy

In honor of National Poetry Month

A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing “Boris Godunov.”
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.

A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why aren’t you dead?

A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.

A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.

A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

From The Moon is Always Female, 1985

Guest Post: Sharp-Harlan F. Baudelaire

Last night,
during a perfectly normal
dinner,
I swallowed a sharp chip and it stuck

in my chest
before cutting
all the way down
from the inside out.

In my space
sharing the same air
you failed
to see the moment of pain.

Reserved,
with a sip of water,
I went on
in silence.

This morning,
during a perfectly normal
cup of coffee,
I gasp

the cut still aches
along with a thousand other
cuts made from
sharp words

swallowed in silence
that slice
all the way down
from the inside out.

detached,
with a sip of water,
I go on
in quiet.


Harlan’s poetry explores the emotional and often concealed existence of women. In 2018, she has several works published by The Whisper and the Roar, A Feminist Literary Collective and Tiny Flames Press. Harlan is currently completing her first chapbook, The Music of Whispering Horses and Other Lies, which she plans to present in late 2019.

You can read more of her writing here.

Guest Post: Turning-Harlan F. Baudelaire

A little too bright breezing in
head turned right with a close-miss kiss
too close.
Something
other than bourbon is
living—
there.

You see for a second
brown-eyes-turned-black
and cross the room
escaping cuts from scalpel-sharp
intuition abuzz
from the company
of your lingering guest.

Choosing
to turn to the
left,
in silence,
enveloped by years of cold deficiencies
I count three anemic heartbeats then
float away.

This anesthetized pulse
drives down
the culpability
of knowing.

Turning, instead,
toward
retreat.


Harlan’s poetry explores the emotional and often concealed existence of women. In 2018, she has several works published by The Whisper and the Roar, A Feminist Literary Collective and Tiny Flames Press. Harlan is currently completing her first chapbook, The Music of Whispering Horses and Other Lies, which she plans to present in late 2019.

You can read more of her writing here.

Abiding the Law- Elisabeth Horan

Crack of my inner self
expands – persona non grata
said drink this kill elixir;
hapless liver, porous flab

When all she ever wanted was
to crawl back inwards

Spread wide at the legs –
make cruelest room x2
everywhere I might escape;
she is hither, and grew anew

A slice of throat
per capita allotment
this witch to dislodge
en terrorum blood clot

Which of me, would you adopt
Herr Doktor?
the halved missionary
cut down so easily –

Or the sorceress who giveth muse
to eviscerate the purgatory
for medical experiments –
to take on as your new baby

Bride of males
I could not expel –
cracked open my inner self
for Daddy’s viewing pleasure

Image Copyright:© kathariinne – http://www.redbubble.com/people/kathariinn


 

Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature from Vermont advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain – especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. She has work at up at Barren Magazine, Moonchild Magazine and Elephants Never. Elisabeth is honored to serve as Poetry Editor at Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, and is Co-Owner of Animal Heat Press. She recently earned her MFA from Lindenwood University and received a 2018 Best of the Net Nomination from Midnight Lane Boutique and a 2018 Pushcart Nomination from Cease Cows. Her chap, “Bad Mommy / Stay Mommy, is forthcoming this May, 2019 from Fly on the Wall Poetry Press.

Follow her @ehoranpoet  & ehoranpoet.com