Girlhood – Kristiana Reed

she’s the tough girl. soft girl. doesn’t get involved girl. the too much girl. yet never enough girl. smile girl. what are you laughing at girl?

cry girl. middle of the dance floor girl. she’ll hold your hair girl.

she’s his girl. my girl. will always be the baby girl. daddy’s girl. shy girl. get them out for the lads girl.

she’s a show girl. not much of a grower girl. innocent girl. lost girl. missing girl. the nobody knows her anymore girl.

she’s the ‘you’ve changed’. learnt how to be brave. the woman you fail to recognise. because you do not use her proper name.


 

Kristiana Reed is a writer and an English Teacher living in the UK. She is the creator of My Screaming Twenties on WordPress and she is currently working on her debut poetry collection which will be released this Spring. Her work has been published in several poetry anthologies (Swear To Me, All The Lonely People, We Will Not Be Silenced), in the feminist issue of MAELSTROM Zine and the inaugural issue (flight) from Nightingale and Sparrow.

Cartography…

She looked again
but she could not find her
not on this scraped and scribbled parchment
not here among the faint ink lines
that denoted landscapes long forgotten
hills and valleys
that were worn even by the winds of time
though she continued the search
for the she before her
the paper oracle in her lap remained silent
it would breathe no word
of the whereabouts of this woman
the she before her
the one whose locks
were not of ash and peppered coal
she whose mane
flowed like an ebony flame
and how often through the gold of a crown
it hung in the salt air
aloft on her shoulders
before they were pauldroned
and framed in steel
she who walked amid
daisyed fields
and through the shade of willow branches
in the sun-swirled breezes of early march
and knew no particulars
of drought cracked earth
beneath the flap of torn rag battle standards
the she before her
who knew not the sound
a blade makes as it slices through dragon flesh
the edges of this map
here be monsters
they all knew her name now
the monsters
and they all would retreat
when e’re her boot heels would approach
and though her sword
slept at her hip
it knew they would not find her
the she before her
for the woman they sought
was the self same maiden
now warrioress
who rests upon weathered stone
and dreams of a time
when this map
was a stranger to her

– Dedicated to Christine Ray – Beautiful Woman, Amazing Friend, Trusted Ally, Champion

Pretty Skinny – Kristiana Reed

person-801899_1280 (1)

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.  

Ally…

4-Tr
when I first met her
it was on the road to our homeland
the sun shone bright
and the birds sang praises to the gods
she and I shared words
of beauty
written on the pages
with our blood in the ink
when next I met her
she cupped her hands
around an ember of my heart
and breathed courage across it
a flame danced and flickered
in the dark of my doubt
and so lit the way for my dreams to walk
when last I met her
it was on the road to war
I stood by
as she leaned upon a shattered fence
I attended her wounds
while she caught her breath
and it was my honor
to hold her shield while
the pain of battle ebbed
in her weary limbs
and while tears dried upon her cheek
I renewed my oath
and I
will walk with her
toward home

To gentlemen on dance floors everywhere – Kristiana Reed

To gentlemen on dance floors everywhere:

Fuck off.

No, seriously. Please keep

your bump and grind stare

to yourself.

Perhaps I’m not wearing

any underwear

but I didn’t come here to share.

I came here to dance and

drink until I’m silly,

not the ‘liability’ you’ll claim

as your lion’s share – and

try to take.

If you haven’t yet realised

I’m using the term ‘gentlemen’

loosely, because chivalry

is not dead,

you just haven’t learnt it yet;

and I don’t mean door holding

and jacket offering –

No, I mean personal space

for each of my hands,

my ribcage and raging breath.

I mean having conversations

which don’t have forks in the roads,

yet no matter what I choose

in your head, both lead to sex.

I mean dancing on my own

because I decided long ago

this body is good enough for me

and me only,

and even if you ask politely

I’m still not obligated

to give any of it, to you.


Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar & Sudden Denouement, and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Brute – Eric Syrdal

This is something I need to write
while the fire of anger is in my heart
In these later years of my life
I have learned to let go of anger
more quickly
so what is left of my heart doesn’t become
blackened and bitter

But I must say this

You disgust me
You have my complete contempt
and that is not an easy thing to do
I have a forgiving heart
I strive to understand
to accept
to empathize

I cannot do this with you

You confound me to no end
I am continuously embarrassed and confused
by your actions

You can not comprehend how much
rage fills my heart when I think of you
what you do
what you consider amusement
is a sick and twisted malady
which is incurable in the likes of you

what gives you the right
to approach her?
what broken logic
do you mutter to yourself
in the throes of your indecent behavior

you can’t be content
with all the warnings we are given as children
you can’t be satisfied
that a butterfly perched upon your finger

You can not marvel at her beauty
with eye-watering wonder
You can not sit in peace
as she shows you her gorgeous colors
close your eyes and feel
the tingle in your soul at her delicate touch
upon your skin
sigh out loud
at the pride swelling in your heart
that she chose you
as a place to rest from her weary flight

You had to touch her wings

Your alpha-bullshit
convinced you that you could do such a thing
and she would be fine
and so with slobbering tongue and whining like a beast in heat
intent on humping the furniture
you repeatedly let your primitive hind-brain
type out a string of tripe to her
always on a private channel
because your coward nature doesn’t let you make advances in the light
where men such as I
could see
and oh how I wish you would give me the chance to see

You inspire me to violence
because you make me physically ill
Your alpha-animal-fuckery makes me want to
give in to my primal side too
and thrash you within and inch of your life

So of that you can be proud…you drag me kicking and screaming to your level

I hate you for it

You can’t walk past a beautiful flower
without putting your filthy hands around the stem
and yanking her from the earth?

On this massive battlefield that we all share
you can’t celebrate her strength and power
without hooking a finger behind her breastplate to see
what’s underneath?

How dare you, you wretched filthy piece of trash…..

In this war we all fight
how good does it feel to protect her flank?
take one more worry off her mind
that she can feel confident you are an ally
You will never know
what it feels like to put your back against hers
and devote all of your willpower to the forces in front of you
never worrying that something may attack from behind

I enjoy
so much
lying on the ground
next to their fire and watching the beautiful shapes
amid their crackling flames

They warm what is left of my soul and you have no idea the battle that I fight to keep it every day

and you are putting them out
these wonderful bonfires of strength, magic, and beauty
sensual and romantic
hard edged and joyful
you are snuffing them out one by one

and I hate you for it

with every shame-laiden-panick-attack-inducing
unwanted advance
you remove more and more of them from my universe
and I am tired of it

So very tired

They owe you nothing
and that is all you will ever be

 

  • This is a subject very close to my heart. One that I have taken on personally to fight against. It has claimed so many of my female friends here on Word Press and other social media sites. The day to day anxiety and stress from dealing with unwanted advances online has snuffed out their existence here. And it is among the greater tragedies of my time to have to acknowledge that the situation seems to get worse and worse by the day.
  • unwanted online advances of ANY kind are tantamount to sexual assault. And should be treated with the same seriousness we would if it were happening in the everyday real world.
  • it is imperative that we do everything we can to address it and to also be supportive of the victims. I should not have to explain how terrible it is to deal with this type of behavior alone, no one should feel like they have to put up with this. They need allies and support, always.

Tulips-Sylvia Plath

sylvia-plath.jpg
The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.
They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.
My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage——
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.
I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.
I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free——
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.
The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle : they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.
Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.
Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.
The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.