Pretty Skinny – Kristiana Reed

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We say skinny

like it’s a swear word.

We blame skinny girls,

ask who ate the skinny girl

and can’t bear the skinny girl

who says anything about her weight.

We’ve branded ribs and collarbones

who didn’t ask to be shown.

We tell them to eat more,

call them twigs, stick-thin

and not flowers pretty enough

for the bees,

because only vultures pick at bones.

I’m not saying skinny

needs to be the new curvy

or vice versa.

I’m asking women and men

and every gender to be a little kinder

to every body.

Everybody has bones and insecurities,

pages of a history

they ripped from their open book

long ago, to be kept and stowed.

I’m asking as a girl

who has always been small

not to chastise me

for the way my elbows poke

when yours don’t.

All we are, is skin and bone

and it shouldn’t matter

how much we show,

keep to ourselves or flaunt

in Instagram posts.

 

I would like to say

I’m skinny or curvy

or fat or thin

without feeling dirty.

I would like to say

I’m a woman who

is learning to love

her body;

the skin and the bones

she has no choice but to be in.

 

We say skinny

when we should say

‘Beauty comes in every shape and size

and it is not for me to decide

if you do or should feel pretty.’

 


 

Kristiana Reed is an English teacher and a writer (in her free time and day dreams.) She is the author of the WordPress blog My Screaming Twenties and she writes about love, her struggle with mental health, survival and hope. She is currently in the middle of producing Between the Trees, her debut anthology, and writing her first novel.  

When never is not forever – Candice Louisa Daquin

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The year is

somewhere back when

kissing in public would have

resulted in a shaming

it was not our shame

but we carried it high on our cheeks as if it were

the taunt of “lesbian bitches” like sharpened nails

prodding us to flee

and where could we run?

not your closed-minded house, nor mine

we had only the rugged country and its tilled earth

burning with our polished want

you told me, it was too hard

when you love, that’s what you eventually learn

to let go, if the pain is tormenting her

and I watched you

stumbling down the hill-side in your badly fitting rubber boots

tears obscuring your view

the purse I gave you, a mash of wool against your side

still I thought of chasing after your vanishing

but what would I say? What could I

a girl of mended pockets and thin chest of pennies

offer?

I thought of your heart-shaped face

the way the curls of your hair were blown straight

by fierce winds and the seeming condemnation

of nature

as if the spirits holding back the ice

threatened their eventual punishing

was it so? did something that felt so right really

reside in sin? and if this why was I given a

mismatched heart

latched to yours and never

the acrid stink of boys?

You, with your gentle malt brown eyes

and bitten nails rubbed raw, the way your knees

poked out of your tights like sharp stones

how your narrow shoulders threw back

the weight of sorrow as

you tried to make sense of things

broken and too heavy for either of us, even together

to move.

I lay in my singleton bed, tucked in by

the enduring chill of night and your jagged absence

pounding like a boulder on my chest

and if there had been a way to

take you away and build tree houses against

all who said

they’re going through a phase

if we separate them long enough

they are bound to find a good local boy

in time in time

oh love, my love, there is not enough time in this

short stacked life, or turn around empty stage

all its broken shells and lost moments curled

in the death of one season to the next

there is not enough power in the

minds of men and frowning adults

to leach this swollen sea from my lips

have your face vanquished along with it

no time can separate those who fate

decrees are bound

no condemnation is loud enough.

I let you go, an unfurled pain through aubergine fields

watching blurred from tears until you are beyond my gaze

even then rooted to the spot as it grew colder

you stood with me, wet cheeked, red with

high wind, the words caught from our mouths

blown like autumn around our woolen ankles

savage and whipping

the crack of old trees as they bend

unwilling and stiff

in the deluge of our hopelessness

I feel still the circle our fingers

made shared in one pocket for warmth and

how your lips tasted like cough drops and mine

or the warmth of your skin on my mouth

a scold from the whole world

who used ugliness to describe

what was always only ever beautiful

the catch of green in your iris, as if a spring shoot had said

I will grow despite the cold

and I could do nothing but let you absail away

our tether a kite, torn by tree branches

still in subsequent years, standing on the hill I saw

the string of us persisting long past its clossure

they said;  it will only take a season

perhaps a year at most

young hearts mend fastest

where did they learn that nonsense?

I grew beyond their chipped confines

you married a local boy, who gave you babies and hearth

without the fire

without the shared, reach of us

and my beckoning on our mountain

as we liked to think it was

when we were wild girls chasing each others burning flame

you smiled when you saw me again

many years hence; still the same full lips and high cheeks

like someone had thought carefully when

they carved you out of hill sides and left their grace in your shape

a woman now, of grown years in straight lines

you look up as I walk in, the chime of the door

wet shoes, dripping umbrella, badly fitting skirt

I can hardly hear the first words just your sound

my throat is closing, my cheeks flaming

our fingers touch beneath table-cloth

as if it were not the future

but that thursday atop the world

your buckled shoes scuffed by our climb

my breathless devour of the last moments

ticking down before

you turn

turn away and descend

into the world that says no to girls

I see fine lines against your eyes, the gentle curves of motherhood

you are wearing rings on all your fingers

and someone has released you from your bond

in the future you are free to ask me

meet at the coffee shop on the corner at ten

and the part of me who waited

watching the summit and our fall

and the part of me who stayed behind

seeing you go into the fog, become no more

and the part of me who knew

we’d return to each other like

coal is made in darkness and so are diamonds

where the taste of sudden storms and electricity

play on your neck and a rising blush

is a sunset in lost time

I saw us then, grown and still smiling

despite the savage world and its rules

you can try to take what is not yours to claim

I tell my enemies and the crows

as starlight falls on the empty shapes of our descent

we will in some hour, somewhere

hear again the beat of one another’s heart

steady and determined, despite the years apart

pull us close against like a final stitch

for I am hers and she is mine

washing over the heather and bracken

like light rain compels rainbows from

grey reluctant skies marbling

her hands in mine, the feeling of dissolving

for some are destined, no matter

will is won over, when never is not forever

and a promise stays growing

beneath fecund earth

 

Trajectory – Candice Louisa Daquin

12bTime only haunts you once

hardened in amber the fly immortal

a draft to whisk away sorrow, in our lives we sleep on our hope

for to survive you must look to your dreams

dancing behind double glass, she turns at the sound

seeing the one whom she loves, watching her perpetual motion

until that broken moment and the dance halts on blackened soles

unexpectedly and predicted both

like the slung free fall of an arrow will surely pierce

even armor, given right trajectory

past emotions fall imprecise from curling branches

the corridor in your mind takes a step on mustard carpet

all hushed by sway of time, leaching her bounty

youthful enough to crane perfect neck against marble bath

arching, pleasure, the slow tickle of absence like a flutist

produces from silvered mouth, the breath of music

a chance of rain sound-proofing slip of movement

time only haunts you once

prisoner of the war of words said and not

til I let you go, once and for all, softly the first

forever it felt, walking out the door

steel beneath my own terms

shaking like bakers

raising their dough before it is morning

and you

never who you were

growing wings

stepping from edges

floured hands

pressed together

leaving imprint

where no scouring can chase

the outline you made

Mors Imperatix- Eric Syrdal

MorsImperiatrix ESThey said
her beauty
had the power
to strike a man’s
tongue
dumb in his mouth

The potency
of this innate
quality of
Her Majesty
is no more diminished
by death’s embrace
than the brilliance of
our twin suns
are diminished
by the striking
of a flare

She was 18
when I was pulled
from my duty
aboard “The Valiant”
the flagship
of our grand armada
a post of prestige

I was
reassigned…

as one of four
fence posts…
mandated to stand
at her
right hand
forward position

Whenever she left
the palace…

Whenever she left
the dinner table…

Whenever she left
the lavatory…

A guard dog
to watch over
a female pup

as she learned
poise

as she learned
balance

as she learned
ceremony

until her father
would produce a son…

then she would
learn to spend the
days at court
or at the country estate

and I would be
relieved of
my idle nursery post

and would
again take my place
on the deck of a starship

she was 23 when
the fleet was ambushed at
the herculean nebulae….

When the stars ran red
with human blood
and the sky on
a thousand terran worlds

Fell…

Fell on the strong and weak alike
Fell on the sick and the healthy
Fell on adults and children
and our Empire began to burn
Our strength was shattered
when we lost our leader

The Emperor
was a ghost in our terrified hearts
and the crown was passed to a woman

This woman

as she lies on this bed of crimson roses
….even now…

though my eyes cannot focus through the salt sea
swelling in them …

I can feel her powerful beauty
radiating through the air around me

as I march in lock step
with this honor guard
and we bring her to rest beside
her father
I remember her grace…

when a war was thrust upon
her young, slender shoulders

Before the Crown
had set within the raven curls
of her head

She sought my council
for an answer to staunch
the hemorrhaging wound
that was our legacy
to draw an elixir
to cure us

I remember with
tear-stained cheeks
how she held the crown of Orion
in her lap
with one alabaster hand

And with the other
she gripped my forearm
so tightly
I could feel her heartbeat
through the warmth of her palm

It was not the panicked
thundering
of a addled child

She did not bolt
as does the hart
when sprung by hounds

She
in a quiet voice
full of resolve and fierce flame
ordered the fleet to advance

like so many slivers of broken glass
under the feet of those
who would tread upon us
our enemies
reaped our retribution
a thousand fold…

After we crushed
the opposition
and their armada lay
in smoldering ruin
lifelessly orbiting barren rocks

It was I who lead
the search for her
crippled command carrier

My loyal ears
were pained to hear
that she had been taken
from us..

from me…

As the bridge had been breached
sudden decompression
crushed the life from her lungs

But in the
giving of her life
so did she bring Life
to her people
and hope to an empire

As the last
booming echoes
of our salutes fade
I image them
to be her footfalls
as she exits this universe
to conquer the next

and my heart…

…she will carry with her


Eric Syrdal is an independent poet/author. He’s an avid gamer and Sci-Fi enthusiast. He enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy literature and spends a great deal of his writing time focused in those genres. He is from New Orleans, Louisiana, where he lives with wife and two children.  You can read more Eric’s writing at My Sword and Shield….