Women-Introducing Rishika Sangeeta

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[Poem by Rishika Sangeeta]

women are told
lies before they even understand the concept of truth
taught to be softer
sweeter
smile more
laugh less
lower your eyes you insolent witch
taught to unravel like a carpet beneath a man’s feet

there is a place for a young girls dreams
your mother tells you at 12
and it hangs itself inside closets
tucks itself silent and simmering in her snarling curls
perfumes the house with the aroma of spices and bitter compromise
you will understand when you are older she says
and her eyes shine at you like a sickle moon in an empty sky
too tired to put up a fight

women are taught
to belong
to surrender
like sheep led to slaughterhouses innocent of your deceit

women are taught
to quicken their pace as day passes into the jaws of black night
the dark hides terrors little one
and animal lust
and the only voice she hears is her mother’s
and it whispers
run!

women are taught
their bodies are commodities to be bought and sold to the highest bidder
her mother is careful to call it dowry
a bride price
as if the safe trappings of tradition and culture
somehow censors the truth
that she never belonged to herself
she never would

in this world
a woman willing to claim herself
is deadly
dangerous
an outlier

but listen to me
you belong first to the call in your veins
to the pulse in your throat
to this shell that carries you
battered and bruised through
the quagmire of living
and you are powerful
merely for existing
for enduring
for loving

never forget that

[Rishika Sangeeta is a therapist in training and a writer of romantic prose and poetry. She spends hours in communion with the dark and her heart in a constant quest to unearth some meaning from the mayhem of living.]

Constant Constantine-Introducing Hannah Munroe

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[Poem by Hannah Munroe, image from Medea, directed by Michael Thalheimerv]

He roars he barks he bites
Little boys trying to be men
Emotions so big
they only know how to express it
with their fist
Stomp their feet in a fancy suit
And turns to look back, did she like that?
He is constant
Constantly there incessantly follows
obsessively claims me
and the ground I walk upon
I just can’t meet you in the middle
I don’t want to be owned
I don’t want to be yours
Remember that song by Lesley Gore?
YOU DON’T OWN ME
I am only mine
And now a refugee too
Landed on another man’s doorstep
Now I’m caught between two men
It’s a nightmare really
How can I express myself
There must be more to this life
than a veil and pure white and flowers
Couldn’t a sister be enough?
But he is constantly there

[Hannah lives in Salem, Massachusetts. She is a writer, performer, dreamer, and lover of all things Stevie Nicks. She writes to heal, she writes to breathe, she writes to awaken. Hannah tries to do six impossible things before breakfast. She thinks there is a little witch in all of us.]

SEVEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT VIRGINITY-Introducing Leah Mueller

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SEVEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT VIRGINITY by Leah Mueller, pictured.

1). A glass of milk sits on the table, untouched. Nobody wants to be the first to claim it, though everyone is thirsty. The milk is a big deal, but no one can explain why.

2). The young woman walks down the street a couple of blocks from her home, clutching books to her chest. A carload of men drives by and honks. She is ashamed of herself, even though they are the ones who are behaving like louts. She keeps her eyes on the road ahead of her, but she knows they’ll just drive around the block and return. Next time, they’ll be more insistent.

3). I always thought the whole concept of virginity was devoted to penis-worship. If you never had a penis inserted in your vagina, you were a virgin, even if you’d had orgasms from oral sex, even if someone had inserted his finger in there numerous times, even if you had rubbed against someone so hard that your entire body convulsed. But stick a penis in a vagina, suddenly it was a major deal.

4). The man moves towards the woman. She opens instantly. It’s one of those rare moments when both people want the same thing, and aren’t afraid to show it. Then they both wake up.

5). I have a dream in which I am a virgin again. I decide I don’t need sex to be happy, and that I will go through life as an artist who lives alone. My only contact with men will be through postal letters. I will have an endless parade of postal lovers, who will regale me with propositions that I will never accept, and this will secretly be a relief for them. I keep the letters in a box in the closet. The box swells until it finally bursts open at the seams.

6). A man went searching in the forest for his virginity. It had been eaten by animals a long time beforehand. One of the lions told him it was delicious. The man smiled, since he had been unaware of this.

7). I didn’t lose my virginity. I gave it up voluntarily, and I don’t want it back. If you try to return it to me, not only will there not be a reward, but I’ll never speak to you again. Go find someone else’s virginity. They’ve either been searching for it since they were born, or they never lost it in the first place.

[Leah Mueller is an independent writer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of one chapbook, “Queen of Dorksville”, and two full-length books, “Allergic to Everything” and “The Underside of the Snake.” Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Blunderbuss, Memoryhouse, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Sadie Girl Press, Origins Journal, Silver Birch Press, Cultured Vultures, Quail Bell, and many others. She was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival, and a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest.]