Featured Post: Secrets Made for Truths – Ashley Jane

we slip into shelters
far away from prying eyes
a cosmic clash of beautiful madness

we evolve
we move between
we metamorphosis into something
m o r e
something born on the wind
and draped in the wings of nyx
h u s h

doll face darkling
you were never meant to be loved in silence
but there was a satisfaction
in keeping you a secret
my mystery
my melody
my sun kissed twilight
you blend moon into magic
and leave me mesmerized by the stars in your eyes
h u s h

i am adrift on the calm seas of your constellations
the ones drawn into the heavens
just for me to find
while the clouds hide the sun
i hide in you
floating through
the shadows that longer
beneath your skin
h u s h

we strip our souls down to nothing
and let them merge with the night
we build and undo
shatter and fall together again
we excel in the art of drowning,
never dreaming we’d need to come up for air
h u s h

but all secrets fear the light
especially the ones that should’ve never been hidden
i am gasping
found and flickering
consumed by a secret
that should’ve always been
a truth


Ashley Jane is an indie author from Alabama. She has been writing off and on since childhood, but she only started sharing her words a few years ago. She is the co-founder of FallsPoetry prompt, which runs on both Instagram and Twitter. She also co-hosts DarkLines and DrugVerse prompts on Twitter, and she is co-admin of Her Heart Poetry and Our Poetry Journey. She has two books of poetry out: Love, Lies and Lullabies and The Mums are Filled with Melancholy. She enjoys helps other authors pursue their dreams of publishing.

You can read more of Ashley’s writing on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress

Keeping You a Secret – by Rachael Ikins

She looked searchingly into my eyes as we hugged goodbye. That combination of fragrances that was uniquely “mom”, hair spray, Esteé Lauder and Scotch, though no more cigarette smoke, lingered.

We had been to dinner a last time before she and her husband went south for the winter. Her expression looked as if she expected me to say something or wanted to ask a question.
I disengaged from her bony arms and laughed. It had been a good time, a good meal. My partner Genevieve and I bundled up and dashed through the cold and snow. We had a long dark road ahead of us going home.

She said, “You ought to tell her. But it’s ok with me if you don’t.”

“It feels disrespectful to you, keeping you a secret,” I said.

“Not at all. You have that bad memory of the way she behaved after she was eavesdropping on you to contend with. Coming out is personal. I just think she is ok with it.”

Yes, I did. A college student living at home and working, I’d begun dating a woman I had a crush on. Late one night we had been talking on the phone with the kitchen door shut and my mother had burst in, yelling how disgusting I was, that she was going to go right upstairs and tell my father. The scar lingered, though I never did know if she told my dad. His behavior toward me did not change.

We crunched up our driveway. The dogs barked their exuberance making us smile. Soon they milled about our boots as we petted and told them to go pee.

We hung up snow-covered coats. Fed the cats. Banked the wood stove. Showered and before long were settled warm in our bed to read. It nagged at me, my mother’s inviting behavior at dinner. I stared into space, my book forgotten. Finally, Gen pushed her glasses down her nose and looked over the frames at me. She elbowed me gently in the side. “Go downstairs and call her.” She kissed my cheek.

I shrugged into bathrobe and slippers. Several dogs escorted me to the kitchen where a hopeful cat waited by an empty bowl. I postponed the phone call to pour Friskies.

My mom answered on the second ring.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

I said, “We had a fun time.”

“Yes, it was.” said Mom.

“Umm, well, look.”I said. I was 52 years old.

Silence.

“Genevieve and I are in love and we want to make a life together.” The words tumbled out in a rush. Everyone in the family liked her already so I wasn’t sure what this confession would do.

Silence.

My heart pounded in my neck.

“So,” said Mom. “Does this mean you’re gay?”

Of all the responses I’d imagined, that was not among them.

I said, “Well, uh, Love is Love no matter what equipment a person has in their underwear so why does it matter?”

“Well, you were married to a man you loved for many years.”

She laughed. “I asked your brother if she was gay the first time you brought her here. He wouldn’t tell.

I knew it!” she chuckled.

What the hell, I thought.

Suddenly serious, “Do you love her? Are you happy?” she asked.

“Yes. I love her a lot. I am.”

“Then, that is all I care about. That my child is happy.”

We giggled together a bit more. I was sweat-soaked with relief and also bemused at the conversation.

I set the phone in its charger and flicked the light switch.

Once I was back in bed, dogs and cats piled around us. Genevieve looked at my smiling face over her glasses again, setting her book down on one thigh, “So?”

A few nights later we pulled in the driveway after a long day of work. I headed for the mailbox while she locked the car in the barn and let dogs out. They boiled down the driveway around me as I grabbed junk mail and letters. Halfway up the yard, in the light from the back door, I saw an envelope addressed to Genevieve with my mom’s distinctive back-slanted, leftie script.

My heart leapt into my mouth. I couldn’t help it. Dread. Panting, I dashed into the house, barely remembering to hold the door for the last dog. Gen was putting leftovers from our supper on the road in the fridge. Its light shone on her freckles.

“What is it? Your face is white as a sheet.” She straightened up.

I held the mail out to her.

“My mother,” I breathed. “She sent you something.”

She took the proffered envelope and examined the addressee, only Genevieve, and return label. It said it was from Mom and husband.

“Open it.”

I watched her read, standing so close we were breathing on each other. She held the card so I could see, too.

“Dear Genevieve,

I understand that you and my daughter are in love and you want to make a life together. My husband and I would like to welcome you to our family. We wish the two of you all the best.

Love, Rosie.”

Our eyes met, brimming with tears. We gripped each other in a bone-crushing hug, paused for a long kiss, lips still chilled from winter outside, and then laughed. Hugged again and re-read her note. I brought it upstairs into our study and thumb-tacked it to the wall over the desk.

Life is filled with surprises. An 82 year old woman who was by then married three times had spent time over the years, a few of them when we did not speak at all, thinking.

Proof, I thought; a person can grow for her entire life.

Though the card was lost some moves ago and Genevieve and my mom are both gone, the gift of my mother’s words will stay with me as long as I live.


Rachael Ikins is a 2016/18 Pushcart, 2013/18 CNY Book Award, 2018 Independent Book Award winner, prize-winning author/artist with 9 books. Syracuse University grad, member CNY branch NLAPW, and Associate Editor of Clare Songbirds Publishing House, Auburn, NY. Her new memoir Eating the Sun a love story narrative punctuated by poetry and garden recipes available 4/2019 at Clare Songbirds Publishing House.

Crush – Carol Jewell

Right in front of me,
unseen.
What did I miss,
how didn’t I know?

Whether fictional
or real,
you were
all real
to me.
I loved you
but, was it just a crush?

Came out at thirty-nine,
surprised myself.
I fondly remember thanking
Aretha Franklin’s breasts
for bringing me to the light.

But if I had figured it out
when I was young and naïve
how different my life would be now.

Some things are better left
unknown,
until they have matured,
ripened,
in their own time.


Carol H. Jewell is a musician, teacher, librarian, and poet living in Upstate New York with her wife, Becky, and their seven cats. She reads constantly, being insatiably curious.

Girl Beware – Heather Carr-Rowe

In this twenty first century
troglodytes live
crawl out from
beneath the rocks
they have clung to
spew their shallow
ignorance that spawns
like mould in the shadows
while we women warriors
will pay the price of salt
hear the crush of gravel
beneath our feet
break the lingering mould
so we can breath free
in this twenty first century.

©Heather Carr-Rowe


I am a tree lover living on the prairies. My poetry is often inspired by my passion for nature, the environment and current affairs. You can read more of my writing at my blog – Sgeoil

Men explain things to me – Megha Sood

The sharp wind
grazes and cuts my tongue
/razor-sharp/
like your disagreement towards
how I live my life
your pointy misconceptions
about how it has been traded for various things
to give you little pleasures
as the expense of my happiness

the black metallic taste
of my unspoken truths
sits at the back of my throat
mulling in obsidian time
resting precariously on my forked tongue
slithering and infusing that deep
the sense of fear in the roots of your hair
as they stand the back of your neck

I fear the day when my shredded truth
will drip and taints your soul
your pristine soul,
and your rambunctious gesture of owning everything
will crumble like a house of cards
in your phony wonderland

your ramshackle leash around my neck
hasn’t choked me enough
to knock out the wind
out of my chest
those broken rods of resilience
though pounded a million times
with your sheer ignorance
hasn’t given it yet

You,
with a smirk on your face
think I have caged my heart
but instead, I have given it an armor
a valiant shield,
against your vulture beak
as it tries fervently to preen the truth
from the depth of my soul
my bones rattle in a symphony
with crimson rage.
when men explain things to me.

 


 

Megha Sood lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is a contributing member at Free Verse Revolution, Heretics, Lovers and Madmen, Sudden Denouement, Whisper and the Roar, GoDogGoCafe and Poetry editor at Ariel Chart. Over 300+ works in journals including Better than Starbucks, FIVE:2: ONE, KOAN, Kissing Dynamite, Mojave Heart Review, Adelaide, Foliate Oak. Visitant Lit, Quail Bell, Dime show review, etc. and works featured/upcoming in 20 other print anthologies by the US, Australian, and Canadian Press. Two-time State-level winner of the NAMI ( National Alliance on Mental Illness) NJ Poetry Contest 2018/2019.National level poetry finalist in Poetry Matters Prize 2019. Poetry selected multiple times for Genre Night reading by Jersey City Writers group and events sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs. She blogs at https://meghasworldsite.wordpress.com/ and tweets at @meghasood16.

My body is not an apology – Megha Sood

This body–
my body is not an apology
it’s a prayer
Forgiveness wrapped in the filigrees end of my skin
frayed at the ends
battered for so long
by your pointy convictions
and cookie-cutter rules which try
to shape and mold this body along

My body is not an apology
it doesn’t desire to fit in a frame
mapped inch by inch
else they are ashamed
My body is not an apology
its a roar, a declaration
an unapologetic
unabashed
straight truth in your face
a war cry,
a deafening scream from the silence

My body is not an apology
this body will not be mapped
a benchmark for beauty,
an attempt to hide the crows-feet
or the spider veins
from your vile eyes
and your forked tongue

My body is not an apology
but a safe haven
an epitome of affection,
a metaphor for crimson love
which flows in my veins for years to come

My body is not an apology
It’s an eye of the storm
a dance of destruction,
safe haven for life
forgiveness in disguise

With love neatly folded in the wrinkles of skin
warmth oozing from every pore of my skin
a lesson etched in very single crows feet
forgiveness written through every inch of my spider veins
this body is not an apology–
but a profound lesson
a triumphant proclamation;
An unfettered declaration.


Megha Sood lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is a contributing member at Free Verse Revolution, Heretics, Lovers and Madmen, Sudden Denouement, Whisper and the Roar, GoDogGoCafe and Poetry editor at Ariel Chart. Over 300+ works in journals including Better than Starbucks, FIVE:2: ONE, KOAN, Kissing Dynamite, Mojave Heart Review, Adelaide, Foliate Oak. Visitant Lit, Quail Bell, Dime show review, etc. and works featured/upcoming in 20 other print anthologies by the US, Australian, and Canadian Press. Two-time State-level winner of the NAMI ( National Alliance on Mental Illness) NJ Poetry Contest 2018/2019.National level poetry finalist in Poetry Matters Prize 2019. Poetry selected multiple times for Genre Night reading by Jersey City Writers group and events sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs. She blogs at https://meghasworldsite.wordpress.com/ and tweets at @meghasood16.

How to be a woman? – Megha Sood

There are rules to be followed
guidelines to be remembered
regulations to be followed
to the T.

before I can call myself a woman
a lady like appearance–
an ever-present grin on my face
smiling from ear to ear,
just to ease you into the life
as you please.

I should bow down in obedience
should never raise my voice
walk with the stoop of discipline
and eat with your hand.
With the freedom, you have handed me on the plate
Like I was the chosen one, you see

Oh! that skirt is a little shorter than we expected
see it clearly fails to keep those lurking demon
inside their skin.
Now, you have shown them
too much flesh
now they will come out
will rip you into shreds
and devour your soul from within.

“I told you” they will say
keep your voice down
the patriarchy can’t handle you pitch
they are tone-deaf to your songs of freedom
every war cry of yours
is not more than a mere screech

Give in to the fear of those jackals
those protectors lurking in the dark
they are the guardians,
the unabashed kings
of this society.

So next time the world tries to
teach me how to be a women
/an epitome of grace and elegance/
they should come and witness the scars
I bore on my body.

and the glow I carry
which can put their
thousand suns to shame
a sight their shameful eyes
can’t bear to see.


Megha Sood lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is a contributing member at Free Verse Revolution, Heretics, Lovers and Madmen, Sudden Denouement, Whisper and the Roar, GoDogGoCafe and Poetry editor at Ariel Chart. Over 300+ works in journals including Better than Starbucks, FIVE:2: ONE, KOAN, Kissing Dynamite, Mojave Heart Review, Adelaide, Foliate Oak. Visitant Lit, Quail Bell, Dime show review, etc. and works featured/upcoming in 20 other print anthologies by the US, Australian, and Canadian Press. Two-time State-level winner of the NAMI ( National Alliance on Mental Illness) NJ Poetry Contest 2018/2019.National level poetry finalist in Poetry Matters Prize 2019. Poetry selected multiple times for Genre Night reading by Jersey City Writers group and events sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs. She blogs at https://meghasworldsite.wordpress.com/ and tweets at @meghasood16.