There Is Strength in Our Stories: Poem for RJ – Bina Ruchi Perino

You smile, emerald pepper in hand, and you shrink me
into a single consonant, a controlled identity, the Beta.

B — her throat is the steel kettle on your electric stovetop,
simmering and boiling and compressed — she is trapped
 
in a Stockholm prison, where you peel apart her threads.
July is a blister, a heatwave dancing over asphalt, and B
 
says no until the word is a sound without meaning.
She swallows, eyes closed, mouth seared to numbness.

You buy B a subscription to National Geographic to hold
her down, another reason to be grateful dressed in a selfless

narrative, and the summer salt sits on her tongue when
the solstice weans into autumn. November, she drops

the magazines at your door, she’s itching at the throat you
forced yourself inside. B, she’s weaving her threads back

together. You know she won’t say anything, that B is
simmering and boiling and compressed — I am trapped.

Bina Ruchi Perino is a post-baccalaureate student at the University of North Texas, seeking a Bachelor of Arts in English, Creative Writing. She lives in Denton with her dog Maya. Her work has appeared in The North Texas Review, The Nassau Review, Sonder Midwest, Royal Rose, and other places. She is a survivor of sexual assault.

 

There Is Strength in Our Stories: bewitching hour – Tianna G. Hansen

after Effy Winter

Tonight you plant a curse. Find the recipe from a love witch

 —  black garden curse jar.

Place your wounds inside, direct pain on the one who birthed it. A relief spell, enchantment of the heart capturing sorrows, stabbing like knives through the veins of the one who caused your ache. Mix wormwood and dried thistle, poppy seeds and calamus root — thorns from a white rose. Name of your unbeloved charred to bits at the bottom of a glass jar. Sprinkle black salt and bury beneath layers of dirt. Toss caution to the wind, allow hatred to spill from your mouth like black sludge oozing from your tongue, up from the twistings of your gut. It spews into the jar and coats like tar. Collection of iron nails, pointed and sharp, glimmer in flickers of candlelight. These to be pressed in the dirt facing downward — nails in the coffin of this curse.

Complete under light of the moon — midnight.

He will be sleeping then. His name shall never rise in joy upon your lips; he knew that. Envision torment you wish the curse to bring. Seal lid tight when prepared.

Never open again.

Shake contents to stir chaos upon your intended. Cleanse yourself after. Release inhibitions in body wracking sobs while water scalds your skin. Drown the noise of yourself. Burn sage. Ounce of caution at the end.

Curses are not to be done or taken lightly.

This one promises, crafted for victims of assault/rape…you will take back power, release this trauma, this misery upon your abuser. Magic.

The intention behind this spell is to inflict chaos
and misfortune upon the target.

You wish with every ounce of your being that he will feel one scratch of your agony.

*previous versions of this appeared in Pussy Magic


Tianna G. Hansen has been writing her whole life. She founded and is Editor-in-Chief of Rhythm & Bones Press, a small press focused on the idea of healing through writing. She believes there is always something beautiful to be found in the darkest moments. Her work has been published widely in many forms; find it at CreativeTianna.com, follow her on Facebook @tiannaghansen / Twitter @tiannag92 / Instagram @tgghansen24. “Undone, Still Whole” is her debut collection.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: Thin Ice – Tamara Fricke

i.

Cracking ice
twists and sickens
at an intrinsic
level as though
cells know
hypothermic pain.

ii.

The time when
I said no and
he said yes and
I changed my tune
because fear is
intrinsic.

iii.

A sheet of ice
covers the snow
creating a satisfying
crunch with each
wintered step.

iv.

The satisfying
taste of a well
placed lie that
saves face for
all; even when
it’s transparent.

v.

Roads glisten
in ice blacker
than Death’s robes.

vi.

The day
Death knocked
and I was forced
to answer.


Jack-of-all-trades, master of a few, Tamara resides in Springfield, MA with a rather ungrateful cat.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: a night that didn’t wash away – Linda M. Crate

i remember that rainy saturday night well
will never forget
your sister was supposed to be watching us,
however, she was rather absent
from where we were;
i remember how you forced your lips against mine in
a kiss although i protested no
you didn’t listen—
never understood why my voice didn’t matter
how you made me silent and empty as a void,
but you hallowed out my tongue and emptied me of
my power;
broke my heart and impaired my magic
when you stole all those kisses
from me—
and then you insisted we’d “do it”,
i protested again;
yet all my protests fell on deaf ears
refusing my right to deny what i didn’t want
as if this were some norm i was supposed to come to expect—
i remember how you were in your underwear and you tried to pull
my clothes off, but i refused to let you;
felt so hot that i thought i must be melting as i somehow found the strength
in that adrenaline rush to push you away
ran down the steps
never happier to see my mother in my life
& as the car door slammed shut
i wished she would speed away like a get-away car;
only wanted that night to wash away.


Linda M. Crate has been full of words and stories for as long as she remembers. Her works have been published in many magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is a two-time push cart nominee and author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is “More Than Bone Music” (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019). She is also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018).

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.

Update: There is Strength in Our Stories

The Editors of We Will Not Be Silenced owe an apology to everyone who took the time to submit to our April Event, There is Strength in our Stories. We received so many submissions for There is Strength in Our Stories and the upcoming Anthology But You Don’t Look Sick that we literally could not read and respond to all the submissions during the month of April.

We are still deeply committed to publishing the pieces that were accepted and will post them on Blood Into Ink (WordPress), Whisper and the Roar (WordPress), and our WWNBS Facebook page between now and the end of June. Many of the submissions were suburb and have us considering a volume 2 of We Will Not Be Silenced.

Thank you for your patience and good humor as we catch up.

Kindra M. Austin
Candice Louisa Daquin
Rachel Finch
Christine E. Ray