There Is Strength in Our Stories: Thin Ice – Tamara Fricke

i.

Cracking ice
twists and sickens
at an intrinsic
level as though
cells know
hypothermic pain.

ii.

The time when
I said no and
he said yes and
I changed my tune
because fear is
intrinsic.

iii.

A sheet of ice
covers the snow
creating a satisfying
crunch with each
wintered step.

iv.

The satisfying
taste of a well
placed lie that
saves face for
all; even when
it’s transparent.

v.

Roads glisten
in ice blacker
than Death’s robes.

vi.

The day
Death knocked
and I was forced
to answer.


Jack-of-all-trades, master of a few, Tamara resides in Springfield, MA with a rather ungrateful cat.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: a night that didn’t wash away – Linda M. Crate

i remember that rainy saturday night well
will never forget
your sister was supposed to be watching us,
however, she was rather absent
from where we were;
i remember how you forced your lips against mine in
a kiss although i protested no
you didn’t listen—
never understood why my voice didn’t matter
how you made me silent and empty as a void,
but you hallowed out my tongue and emptied me of
my power;
broke my heart and impaired my magic
when you stole all those kisses
from me—
and then you insisted we’d “do it”,
i protested again;
yet all my protests fell on deaf ears
refusing my right to deny what i didn’t want
as if this were some norm i was supposed to come to expect—
i remember how you were in your underwear and you tried to pull
my clothes off, but i refused to let you;
felt so hot that i thought i must be melting as i somehow found the strength
in that adrenaline rush to push you away
ran down the steps
never happier to see my mother in my life
& as the car door slammed shut
i wished she would speed away like a get-away car;
only wanted that night to wash away.


Linda M. Crate has been full of words and stories for as long as she remembers. Her works have been published in many magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is a two-time push cart nominee and author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is “More Than Bone Music” (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019). She is also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018).

There Is Strength in Our Stories: Over her shoulder – Sarah Bigham

If only she could carry seven
Classes worth of books to avoid
The lockers where he waited
To grab her while the others
Snuffled and his girlfriend
Apologized for his behavior
But no one stopped to help

Arriving at a party that was
Supposed to be fun where a row
Of grown boys in khakis and
Polos all drinking beer
Rated the “harem chain”
With alternating pack hunger
And audible disdain

How did he hide the
Strength in his arms and large
Palms that braced her head and
Sick fascination with teens
His grandchildren’s age
That horrible tongue
Of a man of god

The phone would ring
At her desk
While she worked
The strange laughter
Felt sour in her breastbone
As he said
I’m in front of your house

(Originally published in the anthology, Daily Abuse)


Sarah Bigham lives in Maryland with her kind chemist wife, three independent cats, an unwieldy herb garden, several chronic pain conditions, and near-constant outrage at the general state of the world tempered with love for those doing their best to make a difference. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, Sarah’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of great places for readers, writers, and listeners. Find her at www.sgbigham.com.

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.

The Body by Melita White

 

The body wants to move
wants to reinhabit itself
it wants to play
To bend arc writhe and double with grace and ease
The body lets go
It also gets tired
and stiff and it aches
The body takes up more space than the other bodies do
It is majestic and has presence
Full of symbolism and reference
it represents fundamental truths
cruel ironies and distortions
The body is encumbered
Yet extends beyond boundaries
The body is boundless Continue reading

To have without holding- Marge Piercy

This love poem by Marge Piercy speaks to me as strongly now as it did when I first read it over 30 years ago.

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.
It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.
It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch ; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.
I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.
Marge Piercy, “To have without holding” from The Moon is Always Female. Copyright © 1980 by Marge Piercy.

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