Whispers penetrate flesh walls,
secrets resound like a melody
within the temple of mind.

A church choir of boys
sing Latin,
a tongue they never understood,
yet made beautiful in spite.

An angelic host of innocence,
perched in perfect rows;
perverse men licking dry lips
conduct harmony, as
chorus echoes in rounds
confined by marble stone
laid by hypocritical hands.

In time holy walls stand,
coffers full and overflowing
while souls remain empty.

Yet pride crumbles the benevolent,
corrupt tongues stumble awkwardly
over the dulled ivory teeth of time.

Stained glass fragments let in truth,
rays of light stream through darkness
reflecting a shattered faith sanctuary
built upon broken bones of man.


©Sabrina Escorcio
September 2017

Photo Credit, Sam Webber illustration for “the Priest That Preyed” – New York Times


Domestic Abuse — One Pamela Pusumane

I have never been good with emotions but I’m an artist with fists.

Sometimes I prefer beating myself up with a bottle

Because Mommy said that’s how you make beautiful canvases.

She would say, “Life ain’t a fairytale,” because someone

has to do the dirty work of mining the pixie dust.

On nights where I became a home for dear mother

She would tell me how pixie dust was made out of

broken dreams, hearts, homes, and all that God did not deem worthy.

From that day on, I have mastered the skill of hiding bruises.

Being black and blue means you’re closer to being ash. Pixie dust.

I have come to accept that my lover’s hands are like a boomerang

Always thrown in my face and quick to come back

Because that is how God answers her prayers.

Quick, and with such passion for those whom she loves.

Her love needed to be seen, to be felt. I mean, how do you get someone to believe?

Mommy says I need to be strong and strong people must be tested.

She says God forgives, so must we, for days on end. We must love as if we don’t hate.

She says this with tears in her eyes as if God will flood the earth again.

As if life would hang its gloves and her fists would not feel a bit heavier every day.

We both needed saving but our screams were not loud enough to break glass


I have never known what love is but I have felt her.

On days where she wanted to take me to the grave with her.

But I knew how to hide the blue and black away.

I learned how to smile because the world won’t bury a smiling corpse.

And I refuse to be turned into pixie dust.

© One Pamela Pusumane

Bio: One Pamela Pusumane is a young creative writer an poet from Botswana who is passionate about writing pieces that push the boundaries and get people talking about the things we tend to shy away from in our daily lives. She is currently pursuing her BA(Hon) Social Sciences undergraduate degree at the African Leadership University in Mauritius. You can also find her work on Instagram, Facebook, and Hello Poetry.

Response Poem: Made for Him- Christine Ray

The video for Niia’s Made for You is one of the most disturbing, provocative and mesmerizing music videos I have ever seen. I could not look away even when I wanted to.  It inspired my response poem below.

TRIGGER WARNING: This is not an easy video for rape survivors, victims of childhood sexual abuse or domestic violence— but damn did it make me think and feel.

She hangs on a hook

Suspended animation

Not considered alive


Until he walks into the room

He calls her Doll

Relishes her plastic perfection

The eyes that will never cry

He caresses her once

Before brutally meeting his needs

He can unleash his beast

Without restraint or care

She is shell with no voice

She cannot protest


She longs to shower when it is over

Wash off his stink

Her bile

The others surround them


Trapped in horrified silence

Throats without voice boxes

Limbs limp

Eyes that cannot turn away

They wait for the next man

To size them up

And decide which one of them

Is made for him


Image courtesy of Pinterest

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved



The younger men
of my neck of the woods,

at their rain-trodden stomping grounds.

They navigate battleship trucks
through the mud

until one is proven
to be better than the rest (commander).

The women gather there,

As they haven’t missed this show
since the resurrection.

The boys, like roosters

pin calls of prowess

and “until morning,”

Allowing lips to meet, separate,
sign terms, and promise rewards:

a fifty-five inch piece of glass.

It will mark where she belongs.

She will tell her neighbors
that it was what she wanted.

When the door is closed,

the curtains drawn,

the TV tells a different story.

Lips meet the lips of strangers,

deals are broken.

She wants to be one of the liars,
smokers, sexual beings

craving pain in her joints,

and tired brows, strained teeth.

Her mind wanders to a softer mattress

As foreign (brown) hands
quicken a pulse thought dead…
buuuuuut…the deal she made
so many years before.

“Leave the bending hips and smacking lips
to those who can bare to lose them.

I will take it straight. I will take it on my back.”

Timothy Tarkelly has had poetry featured by Paragon Journal, GNU, Whisper and the Roar, Haunted Waters Press, Cadaverous Magazine, Poets & War, Cauldron Anthology, Lycan Valley Press, Fourth & Sycamore, and Aphelion. When he is not writing, he works for a non-profit that serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence in western Kansas.

Girls Aren’t For Beating/Rachel Finch

I take rejection like a winner, spit the blood

from my mouth when you’ve finished

pounding childhood

trauma into my lungs, smile through the bruises,

keep your secrets in my throat, along with your name.

I won’t speak you into existence.

My body tapped out but my Spirit’s in the ring, I won’t go down.

Fists don’t need words to speak, shades of you staining my cheekbone, a child’s signature.

Numb, I am transparent.

Still, you never knew when to stop. I used to watch the bubbles of anger form on your lips and think maybe if he kissed me this wouldn’t hurt.

I was underdeveloped, rage, half your size and yet it was you who hurt.

Tears falling from your eyes, a little voice in my chest screaming I know and I couldn’t silence her.

I swallowed your shame and stomached it better than you could. I want to spit you out but you’ve flavoured my tongue and there are traces of you in the back of my eyelids.

You thought women were weak, but the same hands you bound, ground herbs, whispered sacred words and wiped the salt that you couldn’t carry from your face.

Little boy, calm your rage. Girls are not for beating. Grow into the skin you hide behind, watch how the women do it without heaving.

I take rejection like a winner, climbing on the steps I stumbled on. Kicking them to pieces behind me. You can’t reach me up here, floating with the fireflies.

Bite your tongue, learn release, I might reach down my hand.

A Statistic- Timothy Tarkelly


Without a reason to rise, they fall

and break upon a gentle chin,

young and daring to look up.

A graceless splash

drowns everyone

within arm’s reach.

The branches missed on the way down?

Pocket change

and the jobs they think they should have taken.

Timothy Tarkelly has had poetry featured by Paragon Journal, GNU, Whisper and the Roar, Haunted Waters Press, Cadaverous Magazine, Poets & War, Cauldron Anthology, Lycan Valley Press, Fourth & Sycamore, and Aphelion. When he is not writing, he works for a non-profit that serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence in western Kansas.


Stuck- Viola Bleu



Her feet wouldn’t move; welded to the floor they were. She knew she needed to leave the
bedroom, wanted to most desperately. But those feet were stuck in mud, or concrete. She
looked down to check but the pink socks with the dirty fluffy soles were quite free of
His voice – hoarse from shouting – was still for some seconds. The silence more scary than
the hateful words directed at the back of her head on the pillow a few moments before.
She had stopped arguing. Stopped trying to reason. He had an answer for everything, and was always right. He was so hard done by, he’d shouted. And he’d punched the wooden sections on the door to illustrate his frustrations. He had never hit her and was proud of the fact he would never hit a woman. The door beading had given way at one end, but the old pine held firm at the other and she watched as he knocked it back in place. Hide it from the kids.
“I want to sleep now. We will talk in the morning.” She heard the words leave her mouth and something willed her feet to finally move towards the door.
“Why don’t you sleep in the marital bed? Hey? Hey?” He was off again, pushing himself up from the edge of the bed, pupils dilated with anger.
Those few steps gained her some courage and suddenly she was out on the landing, passing him. It would be ok. He would sleep it off, the gin, and wake the nicer version.
“I’ll see you in the morning.” more calmly than she felt, she closed the door of the spare
bedroom, old wallpaper from years of tiny people showing her the way to the single bed. She wobbled a little as the adrenalin started to falter, and felt for the edge of the duvet in the dark, soft and inviting between her fingers. She fought the urge to cry.
The cool sheets felt good as she extended her toes down between the unslept-in linen… and then heard floorboards move next door. She stopped and held her breath, praying he would slump into his bed and leave her alone.
The brass door knob moved; it turned and clicked and the door gently opened. His form
clearly visible with the hall light behind, he stood in silence, filling the space.
Her heartbeat was bursting from her ears, she was sure he’d be able to hear it. From
somewhere she found the strength to speak calmly, “what are you doing – go to sleep.” She then laid down and faced away; faced the wall and placed her cold and shaking fingers between her thighs and wished she was wearing more than a T-shirt. Jamming her jaws together, she lay there, determined her body should gain the sleep it deserved.
Some moments passed. He stood and stared. She could just tell he had not moved. Anger
bubbled away, how dare he do this. She was conversant from her research that she should be free to sleep in her own home without fear. And yet here she was scared out of her mind. It was her fault he was drunk and angry. According to him. But she was determined to talk in the morning, when the sunlight in the kitchen made everything seem far less sinister.
“I want to go to sleep!” She could bear it no longer, and begged him to leave.
“Go ahead. I’m not stopping you. This is my son’s room and I will stand where I want in my house.”
She was stuck, well and truly stuck.

I write under the name Viola Bleu and am in the process of creating my first manuscript which one day may be offered as a novel to the outside world.   My website/blog space is Ideas.Become.Words.

Broken- Wendi Clouse


Before I was,
My grandfather, creased and brown, was in an accident.
A big rig full of pipe ran over a stock trailer.
Even after 40 years, he couldn’t forget, so I was told,
the smell of burnt flesh and pain.
I watched exotic looking packs of unfiltered camels rotate in his hands
and witnessed bottles of Wild Turkey appear
from a beat-up, two-tone, Dodge pickup
every time someone lit a grill.
Those days I held my breath and waited quietly
for the sharp words to begin.
Wild Turkey was the signal he was headed back to war
where ghosts and screams swirled in burning wreckage.
I endured years of boots and hats,
George Jones eight-tracks, county fairs, depression, and finally cancer
scrutinizing every move, but I never once saw him look directly
at a horse,
he only offered broken glances,
shrouded by clouds of smoke.

Wendi Clouse, PhD. has spent the last decade as a research analyst within the arena of higher education. After numerous academic publications in refereed journals, which include New Approaches in Educational Research and Management in Education, she has recently, returned to her roots to work on a body of poetry, which explores the complex and often hidden life, of aging women.  You can read more of her writing at The Eggcorn

Violence Domesticated



domesticated Woman.

Pot Roast Sundays

tasted better


with broken ribs.


He loved her hair so much that he’d take greedy handfuls.

I still see her, slumped over the stove, cooking Sunday dinner,

bruised, and bleeding into boiling pots.

Split lips were all that wept in front of him. She saved her tears for me.



domesticated Woman.

Sex was best when

she begged for life

at noon

when the kids were awake and watching cartoons.


Only we weren’t paying attention to the television—

we were holding each other, and swearing to each other

that everything would be all right as long as we stuck together.


And we grew up,

perfectly groomed for marriage.   



domesticated Woman.


© Kindra M. Austin

(image: Hitek)

Heritage: Kobiety- Timothy Tarkelly


I don’t know the women,

but I picture them strong.

Their names are echoes

of patron saints,

or famous travelers;

the heroines of cabbage eating people.

The men, though:

Vladislav, Vostok,



They saw men

on wood and linoleum stages.

They saw themselves

pulled by an aluminum bridle.

Men need nourishment,

even before the sun can shake its disapproval.

Electric veins course until lunch time.

Refill! Beer run!


under the gut and ready to burn

at a moment’s notice.


Time cards:

the analog tick of sore bodies

and shameful performance.

“Refill!” “Set them free!”

Off to feel the gentle ease

of tension being replaced

with expectation.

Which echo will they hear after dinner?


or the nymph?


Musical interludes

of sweat and fun abroad

delay the inevitable.

The day isn’t over

until vibrato folds to chemistry,
wife and babe feel the result,

and grow the bruises to prove it.


The drive —

we’ll call it work ethic —

to do it all again,

in spite of sorrow and having anything better to do,

is something to be admired

in a cutesie, but dark denial-laden fashion.


I guess I’m doing okay.


Image courtesy of Pinterest

Timothy Tarkelly has had poetry featured by Paragon Journal, GNU, Whisper and the Roar, Haunted Waters Press, Cadaverous Magazine, Poets & War, Cauldron Anthology, Lycan Valley Press, Fourth & Sycamore, and Aphelion. When he is not writing, he works for a non-profit that serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence in western Kansas.