Testify! – A Collaboration

Elephants in the arena,
drowning out the stories as
we all hear them,
stomping on
the flowerbed scenery
they’ve built around your garden of rot,
and without a
second thought,
sold the world a
wilting centerpiece
(Nicholas Gagnier)

I
And His Daughter Prayed for Her
She didn’t really know why
She prayed she’d not meet a guy
At a party; ‘cause he’d liked beer
That sudsy stuff she’d now fear

II

The louder we toast
The better the truth we spew
Just another pint
The truth becomes toxic stew
We’ll all agree
Got the votes of the old crew
Now let’s all meet
At Four P’s and grab a brew
(Stephen Fuller)

Oh! look at him
when the venom drips from his slithering tongue
and he moans and screams
to validate his flagrant lies
and the white privilege
agrees in complete unison

Hiding behind the female prosecutor
those bunch of naysayers,
shreds and rips the reality in bits and pieces
oh! she should have reported it sooner?

Where the validity of her truth never mattered
it would never be
a grain of sand in their eyes of ignorance
too hard to ignore,
too painful to realize
an exercise in futility.
(Megha Sood)

If only I knew
that high school and college
were hunting grounds
for people like you.
The ones that worked hard
with all their money,
physical talent, and popularity.
Those predators were untouchable.
Little did I know that being
in an empty hallway,
a bus ride at night,
or walking home from school
was a dangerous act.
If only I knew that predators
come in all forms,
and not all monsters
have hideous faces.
The word of a quiet, unknown girl
would never match
the thoroughbred males
that dominated my world.
If speaking up would only lead
to more labels, accusations, and bullying,
why say anything at all?
The shame and guilt
was already overwhelming.
Why add insult to injury — literally?
(Sarah Doughty)

Get out of my head
my body, my bed
take your license for molesting
somewhere they welcome it
there’s no show tonight
the actress fled the stage
finding herself unable to fake
why bruises keep cropping up
like blooms of rot on her body
the price paid for her art
they told everyone she wanted
to be gang-banged at the after party
where lilies to congratulate her success
lay strewn on much trod floors
as they ground her soul to flour
she felt the wink out of valor
how can I go on from this?
where is my sword? My strength
to rise above their dissection and
penchant for ownership with violate
lend me a knife so I can slice
their pretty little grins of entitlement
right off their wolfish mouths
(Candice Louisa)

‘LIAR!’
the self-righteous hiss
under their breath and
in the comments sections
their venom dripping deep
so like their ancestors
who spit ‘WITCH’ and
‘WHORE’
from forked tongues
when truth spoken
shattered the community
myths
(Christine E. Ray)

Devil’s dancing fingers go
clikety-clack,
tapping at the keys,
and shifty voices surge.
Virulence is vomited into microphones:

“She lies!”
Meanwhile, we continue
to learn that some of our friends are despicable people—
discover stomach turning rhetoric and defense of abusers.
Women blaming women…

I’m fuckin disgusted by all the questions:

“Why didn’t you report this sooner?”
“Why did you put yourself in that situation, anyway?”
“Why even bother speaking out now?”

We’re under attack,
and I’m armed to the nines.
(Kindra M. Austin)

you formed thick callouses
padding o’er those wounds
I watched how you bled
as you peeled them off.
you held your composure
just so
/a shield and your frying pan/
at arms’ length
peering from behind spectacles
uttering carefully poured
analytical professorial articulations.

I saw you shake
we all did
your sisters in conversant
solidarity.
I bled alongside you
as you clawed off your skin
in the service of truth
that bitch named
greater good
and I felt the warm sanguinary
drip
as your demons feasted
on your vulnerable flanks
all the while.

he is laughing still
isn’t he?
(Aurora Phoenix)

The abuse began so long ago that I can’t quite place a finger on the exact moment my heart shattered for the first time. I don’t have an “I remember it so vividly” story, for that moment, because there is so much water – so much water between me and the shore. I want so badly to plant my anchors of feet into that wet sand and refuse to budge ever again. But my reality is one of drowning and resuscitation; only to end up with another mouthful of water and flailing hands. Memories do fade, especially when the waves do not relent. But, it doesn’t make the assault or the sting nonexistent. Must we bleed all over you in order for you to believe? By the power of 3 × 3 karma let them see. Let them see. As I will it, so mote it be.
(Susan M. Conway)

Why ‘We Will Not Be Silenced’- Christine E. Ray

I am a writer, an editor, and publisher with a background in clinical social work and neurodegenerative research.  I am a mother, a wife, pansexual, dyslexic, living with Bipolar II, and fibromyalgia.  I am an artist, an avid reader, and lifelong advocate for social justice.

I am also a sexual abuse survivor.

Like many sexual abuse survivors, I kept my story to myself for many, many years.  For decades, I only shared my story with the people I was most emotionally and physically intimate with.

Partially my silence was to protect the innocent who could still be hurt by the fallout of my story, partially because of shame, partially because I told myself that what happened to me wasn’t so bad compared to what has happened to so many others, and partially because I didn’t want to be viewed as damaged.  I didn’t need, or want, anyone’s pity.

When I turned 50, I realized that my silence was slowly eating me alive and was keeping me stuck in a place in a place of shame and self-blame that served no one but my now-dead abuser.  So I started to write and tell my story creatively.  It was terrifying, painful, empowering, healing and incredibly validating when others started to tell me what an impact my writing had on them.  They told me they felt less alone.  Some said that I had written exactly what they had always needed to say but couldn’t.  I cannot express how profound this feedback was or how motivating.

This lead to the founding of Blood Into Ink with Kindra M. Austin, 1Wise-Woman, Aurora Phoenix, and others.  I felt strongly that we needed a place to collect the stories of trauma survival warriors and show that they were so much more than victims.

This led me to ask Rachel Finch, the incredible founder of the Bruised But Not Broken Community, to let me publish her stunning book of poetry A Sparrow Stirs its Wings about her own experience with abuse and healing through Sudden Denouement Publishing.  This led me to prepare the manuscript for The Myths of Girlhood, a collection of writing about my own experiences with sexual abuse, PTSD, and life of a survivor.

It also lead me to turn to my incredible network of survival warriors when the recent Kavanaugh hearings rocked the United States,  communicating to the world how little our stories as survivors are valued, how easy it is for some people to turn a blind eye, and how many would rather accuse a survivor of lying than accept that rapists and harassers are not always monsters who live in dark caves, but can be the boy next door, our classmate who is a star of the basketball team, our judges, our heroes.

Candice Louisa Daquin, Kindra M. Austin, Rachel Finch and I believe that it is more important than ever for women AND men who have been sexually harassed, sexually abused to tell their stories.  To be heard.  For our diversity and our commonalities to be seen.  We Will Not Be Silenced is just the beginning of our response to these recent events that have shaken us, outraged us, and motivated us to encourage others to break their silence, to use creativity and community to heal, to connect, to fight back.

We will be accepting submissions for We Will Not Be Silenced until midnight on Monday, October 15th.  There is still time for your voice to be heard.  We are stronger together.  It is time to be loud.

© 2018 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

Last Call to Submit Writing and/or Art for “We Will Not Be Silenced” Anthology

Midnight, Monday 15th October is the deadline for submitting art/writing/poetry, this is an important, very timely project at a critical stage in history, your voices need to be heard!

Bruised But Not Broken, Whisper and the Roar, Indie Blu(e), and Blood Into Ink are joining forces to publish an anthology about the lived experience of sexual harassment and assault. We believe that it is more important than ever before that more voices speak out and reclaim their strength by owning their survival stories. All contributors, female and male, can submit up to three pieces of creative work- these can include; Poetry, Prose, Essay, Short Fiction, Prose, or original Artwork, but should be limited in length (under 1,000 words) considering that this is an anthology. You will be notified if your work is accepted. Please do not consider nonacceptance as any diminishment of your experience, but as with any publishing venture, we must try to fit the individual pieces together into a strong whole.

  • Submission of previously published pieces is acceptable if you still own the rights to your work.
  • Artwork can be submitted in black and white OR color but all artwork should be black and white compatible.
  • Using a pen name or publishing anonymously is acceptable.
  • All submissions should be sent to bloodintoink2017@gmail.com by midnight, Monday, October 15, 2018.

Writers and artists will retain the publishing rights to their individual submitted pieces. Indie Blu(e) will retain the rights to the collection We Will Not Be Silenced.

Pieces accepted for the Anthology may be used in whole or in part to promote the Anthology. All writers and artists will be appropriately credited in all promotional materials.

Should the royalties from sales of the Anthology exceed the costs of publishing and promoting the Collection, 70% of the royalties above these costs will be donated to organizations that support survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

 

JUSTICE – Candice Louisa Daquin

woman-speaksx750Today my sisters and brothers

there is simmering fine-grained rage in the quiet pockets of woman all around the world

rage has not left the room

it is bottled in corners like a fizzing drink about to explode

rage has no accent or specific color

it owns the language of all who came before

it is the woman who is violated when there were only five humans on this earth

it is the child who is taught to condemn women as their first lesson and does not understand

why the woman who nurtures him is trampled on

rage is a quiet supermarket and a grocery shopper

who stands at the canned beans aisle with tears pouring down her face

for she would rather spend hours picking out canned goods than face

the ire of her husband and the laws that do not protect her from being beaten

black and blue

maybe rage does have a color

maybe rage will not always be contained in petticoats and corsets and push up bras

maybe it’s taken too long (oh yes it has taken too long)

but the souls of the witches, the souls of the healers, the souls of the mothers, the souls of the daughters

and their good sons, and their good sons

are rising once more

they clamor to be heard

in the infernal din that is society today

with perpetual noise nobody is listening, apathy has multiplied

nobody knows what is being allowed to happen

or they turn their faces thinking if it’s not trending it doesn’t matter

this doesn’t apply to me I am not a feminist

I am not a victim. I am not a survivor. I am not oppressed

I will not take part in your embarrassing crusade

they are content to post selfies in sexualized poses to gain

imaginary power and control

by the time they learn their folly it may be too late

if one of their kind is raped, they turn like a swarm of locust against her

you must have done something to deserve that, you are weak

did you drink? did you wear a short skirt? did you stay up too late? did you let a boy into the house alone?

then you caused this to happen and you can’t come crying to me

it wasn’t the choices of the male

after all; boys will be boys

we teach them that don’t we?

with hyper masculinity and shame

we teach them that don’t we?

with pornography and permission; if a girl is lying there, you can take her

even if she says no or is unconscious, go on it’s okay she won’t mind

rape isn’t as bad as murder, what’s all the fuss about?

animals rape animals, it’s almost natural

we teach them with our legal system that blames the victim

makes her stand scathingly beneath lights and attest her truth

to a room full of disbeliever

if she is lucky enough to get that far

usually the police office will say

love, don’t you think you should go home and sleep it off?

you may feel differently tomorrow when you’ve realized

the part you played in your rape

after all … all girls lie don’t they?

what about our poor sons?

what about our vulnerable men?

don’t they deserve some justice?

absolutely say the guilty women

now there are many rights and protections for men

women, they work twice as hard once again

just to be believed

to prove what they say, because she could be lying

what motive does she have? Maybe she just hates men. Maybe she’s a lesbian!

what motive to destroy the lives of young boys just starting out

after all, he’ll grow out of it … won’t he?

like the average 80 victims of a paedophile?

he’ll just spontaneously stop doing it

or maybe, he’ll realize he has societal permission

after all wasn’t it said in the Cosby trial

the jurors were not convinced by the room full of women who came forward

they believed he Cosby was guilty because he admitted it in a private hearing on camera

“when he said what he did, I realized he had to have done it” said one young juror

it seems the deafening voices of the women were not enough

how many voices? How many women will it take?

what about the boys though? our boys? why is this all about women?

boys get raped too and when they do, nobody listens, this is true

it is about men because men do 99 percent of rapes

boys who abuse girls, grow up to be men who abuse women

the supreme court is the highest court of the land

if we allow men who have abused women in

to become more embittered by their battle to get there

soon rights will be crushed under their malice

but isn’t it fair to give him a chance? After all he didn’t go all the way?

does it take that to justify? What happened to morality?

would you want someone who had done this to your daughter, sister, mother

on the supreme court?

why do we believe her?

did you LOOK INTO HER EYES

I did

I saw her tremble

no woman

no woman in the world

would stand up in front of the universe and say what she said

if it were a lie

it’s just too awful

political shifting aside (as we all know both parties are doing it and care little for the rights of victims and everything for the machinations of the political beast)

she will have to go back to her burned out life

a pariah on the run, homeless, shamed

if we don’t stand and say we believe you

who will?

if we don’t finally stand together and stop picking apart words like

feminism, womanhood and equality

and realize it still doesn’t exist

we are the only ones who can make it happen

if we don’t all have the courage of Christine

we may never make this world a better place

for all of us

women and men

boys and girls

no is no

sex isn’t violence

existing isn’t permission

to rape me or try to rape me

it’s not okay

it’s not okay

if you think you should be given a free pass

because I cannot produce 1000 witnesses

because I didn’t die

because you have changed

there is forgiveness and then there is consequence

there is right and there is wrong

not all men are rapists

not all women are victims

but in order to survive

we need to decide

what we are willing to tolerate

I don’t tolerate a network of naysayers

who take rape as seriously as forgetting their lunch

who think it’s okay to support someone who has those lack of morals

let’s change the system

let’s get all the debris out

it’s true those attracted to politics are often, the egomaniac, the narcissist

but not every man attempts rape

not every woman is a liar waiting to tear him down

let the good ones back in

and when a woman stands up

do not be a voice in the crowd jeering her down

do not automatically assume she has an agenda

other than trying to seek

justice

Assaulted – Aurora Phoenix

you were pushed from behind

 

I heard in the breathless notch

in your measured words

that catch

in your voice

the tremulous quaver

in your understated stand

 

I have felt those hands

(haven’t we all)

one knife-wielding

– in word or deed –

while the other lays claim

with eyes or clammy paws

to my plush backside

 

you are the embodiment

of cultured terror apparent

the carbon dated anguish

etched on your skin

your pain quivers

on articulated tips

of your educated tongue

 

I jump sky high

elbow cocked in self- defense

it fades yet never ebbs

that stretched rubber band

that inhabits cells

twangs unbidden

and we sproing!

 

he tantrums

spews vile rhetoric

wields his power

his privilege

in ways she would burn

at stake

would she dare give voice

were she to cry crocodile

her ovaries would fry

ahhh those tantrums

we choke down

swallow hot with rancid bile

those that would label

rabid bitch

raving psycho

 

because well behaved women

may bare our ankles

here in 2018

shoulders even (Oh my!)

but we step NOT

upon the tender toes

of fragile male privilege

under pain of recompense