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

The Haunting of Hill House – Marilyn Rea Beyer

Hello, Shirley.
We’ve been expecting you
to look inside and see how
long these thoughts have taken to brew.

Some thirty years,
isn’t that what you’d say?
That’s a long, long time for guilt
to grip you with its teeth of clay.

Enter the house,
Shirley. Look all around.
Dig with your hands in the dark
corners where old devils abound.

They will bite you.
They will pinch your fingers
if you try to jerk them out
and poison you with tail stingers.

Under the hill
that still houses your pain
lives the bleak notion that you
should feel shame and shoulder the blame

for all that you
did though under duress
when hard he grabbed at your breasts
then forced himself under your dress.

End it, Shirley.
Now re-button your blouse.
Switch on the light and say “No.
No. No more.” Get out of the house.

Marilyn Rea Beyer has read poetry in public since the 1960s and began writing poems in 2005. She holds a Master’s in Oral Interpretation of Literature from Northwestern University. Now retired, her varied career includes teaching, high tech, folk radio and working as PR Director for Perkins School for the Blind. A native Chicagoan she and her husband, author and filmmaker Rick Beyer, raised their two children in Lexington, Mass.

Featured Post: The Well of Loneliness – Candice Louisa Daquin

Getting ready for work
Bag on the table
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.