Sneak Peak of Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen: The Color of Our Rights: A Reproductive Rights Collaboration

Are you following Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen?

I will wear red
for my sisters whose health is at risk
for my sisters who have been raped
for my sisters who have been battered
for my sisters who are already struggling
to feed hungry children
for my sisters who need to finish
middle school
high school
grad school
for my sisters who are just not prepared

I will wear crimson
for their lifeblood
that will spill in back alleys
that will stain
wire hangers
knitting needles
other unsterilized implements
that become their only choice
in a country that questions
their ability
their very right
to decide

Christine E. Ray


I have been seeing colors of all hues in my mind lately.

I walk down my street and notice the full bloom of the flowers.

Yellow daffodils.

Pink sunsets.

The rain brought growth and vitality.

Green grass.

My stomach turns as I am pulled from my spring daydream. Clouds are forming. My colors change.

Red of the blood down her thighs

Silver of the hanger of old

Dark grey shadows

Peeled white paint on a dirty van

Purple bruises from unskilled hands

How quickly we forget what our warrior women went through. The fight has lost its color. Now all black and white. They can’t see in hues and block out truth.

I am a child in an orphanage. You scream my promise of a good home when I am unwanted. You tell me I will be saved by pro hands. I saw babies unwanted piled up like trash in a storage unit. Don’t tell me about choice being wrong. I am a choice no one made. A ball dropped that no one caught. I am witness to what happens when no one cares in person. Stand behind your pulpit and up on your goddamn soap box and tell a soldier that was in the trench of state child care what the options are. No one came for us. No one cuddled us on couches while they flipped through picture books with our faces in them. No one saved the smiles from the children as they slid off of their faces and hit the dirt. Many of my brothers and sisters in discard are dead now. Lost to a system you preach as an option. I watched the trash children we became. I brushed the hair of those lucky enough to be put up on the block as “New Mommy and New Daddy” walked the line. “Remember little one smile big and try to hide the sadness in your eyes. They will love you this time.” We would stand like puppies in the window and pray for salvation. Our prayers would go unanswered. People shop for children like they shop for cars. I had my tires kicked a million times only to be left on the lot. I have the bruises to show for it. Unwanted throw away children become dangerous adults, or pretty young corpses.

Cover yours eyes to the hues of color in this argument and the only colors we will see are those that run in the streets.

I didn’t know where to post this and now I am crying and pissed off and need to hand this to someone.

Jack Neece


Your body is obscene, cover it
Uncover it and give it to me
Or I’ll cry “Frigid!” “Dyke!”
You are responsible for my anger.
Look at what you did!
If only you had listened.
Then I would hate you, slut, for giving me
What I want.

– Erin L. King


False ownership
This is strangely annoying.
when you see arrogance in
someone who doesn’t own a thing
Can’t conjure a thing out of thin air
let alone a human being.
You are just the renter here. You don’t own shit.
you are born from this womb
which cradles your existence for months
a sliver away from called a being
Nothing but a pulsating existence in a foreign body
Sometimes the body treats it like an infection
to keep away the contamination
self-purging, an act of reclamation
Sometimes it accepts
cups its own palm
supports you, carries it to term
Its the body,
the arrangement
the unsaid understanding
a solemn promise
between the body and its identity
Your existence is slowly molded
like a ball of sagging clay on the potter wheel
morphed and molded
to be called a human being
You don’t own the womb.
You definitely don’t own our bodies.
You break the arrangement
just like to possess the things
Let me clear this
for the sake of your understanding
the body is not for your taking
There is a thin line between
The choices we make and your wanting.

Megha Sood 


She used to walk with a sparkle, gliding through the halls like the wind just blew her in. But what do you know about what it does to carry a reminder of the moment, of why your thighs scream at the sight of a man? To be ripped open, seed planted to bear his blighted fruit.

Her death was declared the moment you sold her womb to the devil. You man, with your flag drawn, throwing your words like they mean something. My body was not made to conquer!

Jamie Lynn Martin


her mama told her / your body is a temple girl / don’t defile it or give it away / she smoked and she drank to that / but when the boys mishandled her and something grew in her belly / she cried out loud / like a throttled nightingale / where is your justice? / the fires were lit / she anointed with shame / who better to be the brand bearer? / The rapists never knew her name / their child / their doing / sorry you can’t use that as an excuse / there are no reliefs for women who are abused / you should want to cradle your rapists child / here, give me the umbilical chord / let it sound in the dark / no succor here for survivors of incest and rape / lest men not control the uterus / oh lord heaven forbid / she burns with shame / they chant in unison / blood blood / we own your ovaries and private parts / the rape is divided / once and then again / when the law did not defend her / such is the pyre of women / born to defend their shame / inherited over generations / will it ever stop?

Candice Louisa Daquin


My knee jerk reaction is to start swinging blindly, hoping to connect with something old, red-faced, white, and male. As I raise my opened claws, exposing the softest flesh of my pink outstretched palms, I realize that this plays directly into the hands of the predator. I am not a predator, but I have spent my whole life sensing the shadows that pass o’er, discerning their threat levels, dodging them, knowing how they hunt, and how they think.

I am Mouse, master of disguises; now you see me, now you don’t.

I remember who I am and retreat to the safety of the thicket, just as the shadow swoops down, knowing they got me where they want me, and now they’re gonna eat me. I do not accept that I am on the menu today, Mr. Eagle; nor will I any other day. I will claw my way from your throat beast. Know that I will bite back until the beat has abandoned my chest and my body is made of sunshine and moonlight.

When Source asked would you rather be a Top Predator or Smart Prey, you chose your lot Mr. Eagle. You failed to remember that sustainability is not found in rumbling through jungles roaring fear me and eating everything in sight. You will be left starving. Left to rot, your ribcage will become our homes until they turn to fertile soil that makes way for generations to gather, feasting on your fallen kind’s sweet meats. We be small, but we be mighty.

Susan Conway

It was the white-hot sun, glaring down at me, pressing its warmth against the fresh, purple bruises I’d hidden beneath my clothes. It was the silvery-blue moonlight and occasional yellowed headlights that lit my room at night while I laid awake and waiting. It was the way his voice slid like black ice down my spine, the scent of cigarettes and beer on his breath, making the blood moving through my veins turn cold, freezing me from the inside out. That was the fear. That was the hatred. That was what awaited me. Every day, and every night. Where was justice then?

What about the countless other young girls experiencing the same fate? What of the ones forced to carry the children of their abusers? The ones that now have a government choosing for them how they use their bodies? What of the ones with no money, no assistance, and no means to survive on their own — newborn infant in their weary arms with crimson blood dripping down their legs? Where was the help when they starved or froze to death on the streets? What can we do when we have no rights over our own bodies no matter where we go?

Sarah Doughty


My heart is a rainbow of colors

Loves with no restraint

“Tame that sinful heart” they say, because it loves both women and men

“Your body is a temple” they say.

But what they really mean, is that it’s a church, white washed and filled with stories of how women began pain

My innocence was never hues of pastel, it was a currency to be exchanged for a worthy husband, who’d tame what my father couldn’t … So I gave it away

The red of my blood as it stained my school pants, was tangible proof that I now was another sinful woman that had to learn her place

The green of the grass I laid My head upon, left imprints on my summer clothes and instead of wondering what fields I graced with my dreams, you demanded to know why I laid in public with such lack of propriety

When My body bloomed suddenly, my clothes all became sins, and the hate from school teachers spewed over my young physique … Making stains of dark spit and vile on my white uniform

The shadows now darken so many neon souls, who simply want control of the vessel they inhabit, who refuse to bow to archaic laws

The inky black of evil, threatens to infect the world we are building for our future daughters and sons…

They spew their hate and condemn what they will never understand

But the sun will shine again

We will fight for it

Tooth and nail

You’ve taken enough

Your power will run its course

We refuse to go on living in the shadows of your consent

Let your flag fly

Let freedom ring

Jesica Nordase


Raised in a green, faraway land where
women lack power over our bodies,
All while stepping on fertile soils,
Left to be watered by the hand of an oppressor.
No voiced cries, no souls to heal anymore;
Just vacant shells left behind to pick up the pieces of what was once called a woman.
No resistance to stop the invasion either —
Just compliance to carry appointed commands.
A woman should always know her place in the world, His world. A Man’s world.
Makes it easier to endure.
Problem solved, right? So I thought.

As a teen, I witnessed so many injustices:
Sex, unprotected by foolish teenagers.
Rape, hushed just so a community never faced shame brought in without consent.
Victims blamed, the easiest outcome to digest.
The solution, girls forced to marry their rapist, only to restore honor to the family…
Problem solved, right? So I was told.

Eight dollars and fifty cents, the American dollar equivalent of a problem solved.
A pill handed to girls by desperate mothers in the family bathroom.
No doctor. No care. No precautions.
“Just go to sleep. It will go away overnight.”
That overnight hell comes and goes, leaving scars, with no elixir to kill the pain of a physical and emotional trauma
Of waking up in a puddle of her own crimson blood.
But that’s okay. It’s never talked about again. It’s over.
Problem solved, right? So I heard.

But now I’m here.
A red, white, and blue flag held high above my head, giving me a sense of protection.
Of ‘I am home.’
A humongous sign, “The land of the free,” brought tears to my eyes while walking through Customs.
“Welcome to the United States of America, Miss,”
he told me as he handed me the passport that carried so much pain I wanted to forget.
I was free. I am free.
My body is safe now.
I am my own woman.
Problem solved, right? So I hoped.

But where the hell am I?
Am I in a country where rights are protected,
Where voices are heard,
Where strength and free will is celebrated?
Or am I in a third-world country again?
I woke up confused that morning.
With two girls I needed to get ready for school.
Two girls I had been lying to, apparently.
Telling them they have rights.
That they’re strong.
That they are lucky they were born here and not overseas.
Problem solved, right? Or so I thought.

I woke up confused that morning.
Reading a law that condemns a rape victim to carry her abuser’s child.
Forcing women to resort to unsafe solutions, any means in order to take away a pain that they didn’t deserve.
I woke up confused that morning.
Wondering, why was a law, regarding a woman’s body, made by misogynistic Men?
Someone, please, wake me from this nightmare, calm my heart, and assure me that this is not a world my daughters are being raised in.
What’s the solution? I wonder.

Saide Harb-Ranero


My body will not be affected
By decisions of men in legislatures
I do not spill crimson every month.

My body will not be affected
By men carrying knives and ligatures
I cannot be raped.

My body will not be affected
By men who decide women need not study
I already have a college degree.

My body will not be affected
By men who declare I can’t work
My husband pays all the bills.

So they relaxed their bodies
In willful blindness.
They laughed at sisters
Who marched on the streets.

They joined the men in calling them whores.
And said their sons were worth more.
Then came laws that forced darkness
Faces forced behind cloaks of bleakness.

The marchers were murdered
The voices silenced.
Dance outlawed, music banned.
Writers fled, poets quietened.

Memories of the Taliban
Became realities again.
In lands that had assumed
Never again.

-Quatrina Hosain


More than Wage Inequality- Nightly News- a May week in 2019

“Missouri restricts abortion rights! Alabama has already made it illegal.”

“I choose life!”

No, you choose a ball of cells with no heartbeat-technically as alive as an amoeba, over a woman.

“A 19 yr old pregnant woman was murdered by 2, a mother and daughter. They opened her belly, cut out her unborn baby to raise as their own.”

Was she a container the prize was in to toss into a dumpster?

“US pregnancy rates are down! so low we can’t replace the population! The reason: most significant, the drop in teen pregnancy.”
Fewer humans would allow some of the one million species in the verge of extinction because of human depredation of the planet
a chance to

choose life.

In the midwest, fine American women hired an Ivy League-educated woman physician to remove the entire genitalia from a 6 yr old girl.
No anesthetic, grandmother, mother held the little girl down.

Sewn-shut breeding machines
in the name of one version of God.
Lawyers and legislators debate whether to call it “child abuse” or “freedom of religion”

to justify doing nothing.

Historically women underwent hysterectomies for everything from depression to
back pain to
a hang nail.
I ask you.
If a man complains of headaches, will you cut off his balls?

We march.
We are loud.
Yet the juggernaut blunders forward.
Back to a place where it’s encouraged to grab pussy because “they love it!”
Let me grab you by the balls.

“Le plus ça change, le plus que c’est la même chose.”

I am a woman of an age where society deems me invisible and irrelevant. My gray hairs, my wrinkled skin.
A woman friend messaged me recently, “at our age the light begins to dim.” Sure, talk yourself into it.

My light BLAZES because
I am just getting started so

Rachael Ikins


I don’t know what color to wear
For the child of rape forced to accept
Her mother’s rapist as Father
For that mother forced to put her daughter
Into the hands of her rapist
For the grieving mother mourning a miscarried child
And under investigation for possible homicide
For the child of incest
Life-long symbol of a family’s shame
For the doctor who must make a judgment call
On a woman’s life or a doomed fetus and
Facing 99 years if a court disagrees
No, I don’t know the right color to wear
Black of grief?
Rage red?
What color is fear?
Perhaps Gold for resolve that
These horrors must not come to pass

Robert Wertzler

We, The Broken – Aurora Phoenix

come play, poetic friend
the full moon waxes
idyllic on the starless night

glimmering invite reflects
stark fear from the silvery scar
of my ever-unprotected flank

breathless, transfixed
I rummage among
my branded entrails

forage for rose-colored glasses
to gaze upon
luna’s beatific face
find them bloodied
from werewolves’
prior bites

moonbeams’ harmonic strains
drag piercing fingernails
across the chalkboard
of my angst

we, the broken
long to frolic carefree
in cool-limned incandescence

hang frozen

in shattered indecision
having forgotten
what it’s like
to be whole

Inspired by Jessica Nodarse, Eric Syrdal and Megha Sood

A beautiful mind – Devika Mathur


I feel a sudden twitch today,
Blue as this cold dead water ripple.
Flavored sniffs of nocturnal touches of laughter,
all wrapped in the thin film of a small garden,
watching me like a ghost.

My body is one today, floating in abysmal.
Plagiarism of mouth often haunts my brain.
And each time, i pick up my fallen canvas of dreams,
emptying, filling, emptying…
the process takes a day or a night.
I am broken like complete poetry.

There is a method of how I decay.
I believe it is the greatest notion.
the greatest form of art, you should learn.
I hear it,
the drumming windows of that ghost.
I feel abortions, thousand of them in my belly, like that.

And then there is my mirror,
hollow, small, flowing.
a twig of spring inside my mouth,
popping up to show my mind,
a beautiful mind.

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

Your bloody daughter – Candice Louisa Daquin

What would you tell her

The you of twenty years ago

Your bloody daughter

Wiped on doctor’s sleeve

What would you say?

Lying there with your legs open and mind shut

Would you tell her about all the false starts?

Or pick a cliché, like time goes so fast

Would you sit by the river eating damp sandwiches

And say only one thing

Don’t forget

Oh please, do not …

Because it runs out

And the music stops

You realize you didn’t find

In squirming crowd and nubile bundle of years

That self-assured hand of worship

Divination and objection

Pulling you out of horror

A soaking crimson thing

Searching for tapestry within wider weave

Throwing runes in fire pits

Eating the marrow of after birth

To discoverment

What would you tell her to look for ?

Learn the meaning before running

Barelegged catching scratches, leaving blood

Weeds pressed at their fragile necks by the thunder of your sprint

Straightening afterward, leaving no trace

Swaying all, in direction of beckoning wind

Tumbling off high rocks

Their granite faces scowling

Disapprobation carved into their carbon

As surely as your little chest heaves with the labor

Of surviving

trust women – Melita White

trust women
for they know things
like how to listen
and how to draw you out
they help you feel normal
for committing the mistakes
a normal woman makes
they help you reveal
all the shame
you learnt to conceal
long ago

trust women
to tell you the hard truth
show you new perspectives
reveal back to you
your world
one that is
clearer, fairer and kinder
or harsher, meaner, more unjust —
whichever the case may be

trust women
to protect you
beyond their professional duties
they might slip in a phrase or two
that is more sage or friendly
than it ought to be
and if you listen carefully
you will hear it
and if you choose to
you can heed it

trust women
the covert coven of women
dispersed secret members
initiated unknowingly at birth
a network of wisdom
an underground railroad
of waiting women
ready to help you
if only you would let them

trust women
you just need to like yourself
and then you can ask
for the help that is there
like spores in the breeze
it is ever-present
waiting to attach to moisture
and multiply

Melita White is founder and writer of the blog Feminist Confessional, a space that features feminist poetry, essays and personal pieces in a confessional style, with a focus on the MeToo movement. She is a composer and musician and loves making all kinds of things.

The imperfection & the wonder ~ Candice Daquin


What would it look like to be someone else?

who did not wake up red-eyed and fearful?

what would it feel like to be held and words said & meant

to be turned gently in the measure of another’s gaze

would it feel good or unnatural?

by now, like an ill-planted tree, I have bent at an angle to accommodate

the lack

It may be, I don’t want the dream anymore

but something that keeps cold from the hole in my side

so when you tell me

don’t fall in love with me, I am imperfect

so much is wrong with me, if only you knew

if you saw the real me, you would be scared off

when you tell me

the first time I saw you, I was in awe

I couldn’t reveal how much I liked you with nothing to offer in return

I ask you to consider this

I am a tree growing at an angle

because nobody bothered to set me straight and tall

in more ways than one I am bent

and crooked, slightly deformed and full of holes

that let in the cold

sometimes I am a woman who looks in the mirror and sees

every cruel word inscribed on her face

like inch worms or tattooists needle cutting off circulation

every betrayal, a brand burning my attempts

every lie, a drowning, of my ability to breathe

other days I am a girl who runs

for buses in heals and mini skirts

and the boys they shout after that person

because she is a parody and an apparition

as much as she is flesh and blood and nobody they’d want

but I’m the same no matter what mask I choose

I’m the girl who cries and then answers the door smiling

I’m the girl who has become so good at hiding

she hasn’t been found in a very long time

I give far more than I take

because I don’t know how to feel worthy either

so believe me when I say

I know your fear and part of why

you shy away from me, even as your eyes say

oh how I would like to spend a day a night

laughing and smiling in your company

but I am not a cult leader

I can’t convince you, you have to see it for yourself

I am a simple person flayed by life, other people and winter wind

cutting through our best intentions

I try to be grateful, mindful, all the things

we’re told to be

but just as often as I succeed, I fail

I wasn’t built for battles, I don’t know how

to compete the way others do

and if you think I won’t like you because

of any number of funny things


they’re just things and any moment

they could be gone as we could

because life comes and snatches back

just when you think you have time

but what is left

what remains when the table is cleared

are two people

with suitcases of fear pouring out

we are sitting as the light fades in surround

talking despite ourselves

for some part of each of us, wants the other

recognizes a connection

and knows

the only way in this life is to risk all or none

there are no in-betweens

you cannot find love by wishing or digging

both of us have been burned and stung and hammered

by the lies of people and trust is a faraway concept

but until they switch us off and we lay fallow

impregnating earth with our dissolve

I say we try for our chance, however long we’ve got

not let the fear put us off

even as you swore you’d never again

even as I promised I wouldn’t go there

somehow here we sit

staring at the other

seeing everything we want

in the imperfection and

the wonder