Call for Submissions: There Is Strength In Our Stories

 

In honor of Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, Blood Into Ink and We Will Not Be Silenced are putting out a call for submissions for your lived experience of sexual harassment and assault. We believe that there is strength in our collective voices. We believe our work is not done.  Writing and art accepted for There Is Strength In Our Stories will be published on Blood Into Ink’s website and through the BII social media accounts, as well as on the We Will Not Be Silenced Facebook page during the month of April 2019.

Writers and artists can submit up to three pieces of creative work (poetry, prose, essay, and/or original artwork.)  Pieces of writing should be limited in length (under 1,500 words.)   Using a pen name or publishing anonymously is acceptable.  You will be asked to provide a brief biography (75 words or less.)

Please do not consider nonacceptance as any diminishment of your experience.

Submission of previously published pieces is acceptable if you still own the rights to your work.

We will NOT be accepting pieces previously published in the Anthology We Will Not Be Silenced, but the original contributors are encouraged to submit other pieces of writing and/or art.

Artwork can be submitted in black and white OR color and should be 300 DPI.

Using a pen name or publishing anonymously is acceptable.

All submissions should be uploaded to our Submittable site by midnight, April 23, 2019

The imperfection & the wonder ~ Candice Daquin

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What would it look like to be someone else?

who did not wake up red-eyed and fearful?

what would it feel like to be held and words said & meant

to be turned gently in the measure of another’s gaze

would it feel good or unnatural?

by now, like an ill-planted tree, I have bent at an angle to accommodate

the lack

It may be, I don’t want the dream anymore

but something that keeps cold from the hole in my side

so when you tell me

don’t fall in love with me, I am imperfect

so much is wrong with me, if only you knew

if you saw the real me, you would be scared off

when you tell me

the first time I saw you, I was in awe

I couldn’t reveal how much I liked you with nothing to offer in return

I ask you to consider this

I am a tree growing at an angle

because nobody bothered to set me straight and tall

in more ways than one I am bent

and crooked, slightly deformed and full of holes

that let in the cold

sometimes I am a woman who looks in the mirror and sees

every cruel word inscribed on her face

like inch worms or tattooists needle cutting off circulation

every betrayal, a brand burning my attempts

every lie, a drowning, of my ability to breathe

other days I am a girl who runs

for buses in heals and mini skirts

and the boys they shout after that person

because she is a parody and an apparition

as much as she is flesh and blood and nobody they’d want

but I’m the same no matter what mask I choose

I’m the girl who cries and then answers the door smiling

I’m the girl who has become so good at hiding

she hasn’t been found in a very long time

I give far more than I take

because I don’t know how to feel worthy either

so believe me when I say

I know your fear and part of why

you shy away from me, even as your eyes say

oh how I would like to spend a day a night

laughing and smiling in your company

but I am not a cult leader

I can’t convince you, you have to see it for yourself

I am a simple person flayed by life, other people and winter wind

cutting through our best intentions

I try to be grateful, mindful, all the things

we’re told to be

but just as often as I succeed, I fail

I wasn’t built for battles, I don’t know how

to compete the way others do

and if you think I won’t like you because

of any number of funny things

remember

they’re just things and any moment

they could be gone as we could

because life comes and snatches back

just when you think you have time

but what is left

what remains when the table is cleared

are two people

with suitcases of fear pouring out

we are sitting as the light fades in surround

talking despite ourselves

for some part of each of us, wants the other

recognizes a connection

and knows

the only way in this life is to risk all or none

there are no in-betweens

you cannot find love by wishing or digging

both of us have been burned and stung and hammered

by the lies of people and trust is a faraway concept

but until they switch us off and we lay fallow

impregnating earth with our dissolve

I say we try for our chance, however long we’ve got

not let the fear put us off

even as you swore you’d never again

even as I promised I wouldn’t go there

somehow here we sit

staring at the other

seeing everything we want

in the imperfection and

the wonder

For the whole we are – Candice Louisa Daquin

Out there

somewhere

all my lovers

each with a piece of me

I would ask

give them back

those crusts and half eaten slices

for the whole we are

prior to devour

feels good in the late day sun

and he comes to me

with his blackened hand

blocking out light

and muffling my mouth

beneath the stuffing of his hunger

to pluck before ripe

these crab apples small

wriggling like the worms

who rise when it rains

hearing the beat of water

hypnotic drum

I escape from his suffocate

like an eel loosed in oil

will slip and slide and

eventually vanish before your eyes

he cannot clasp me tightly

I am oil and water and brine

there is nothing of substance yet

just honey in chicory hive

we outlast the day in escape

climbing trees not yet high

raising roofs with our hide

to be at peace without

you needing to burnish your

wick on things free of

sickness

maybe there was never

a time of innocence

instinct knows the

predator even as the babe

is born in grass with

blood and gore of birth

scenting trackers

it is a lottery of minutes

rise to your feet

shaking and unsteady

follow your mother into

gathering woods

deeper where ribboned savage

shall not sharpen his sight

eclipse yielding moon shine

stay to shadows dwelt

the smell of you is enough

to drive lust into fecund earth

an anvil of evil

we spring and leap away

hoping its tarnish not stay

permenant like ink on fingers

rubbed away

there is then

no time of protection

from the moment we walk

there are eyes on us

stealing inside our vault

still, I wish for a remembered

moment

we were whole and unbroken

saved in rosy glow

of familiarity

before we grew away

from ourselves

and fragments spoke

of estrangement and

empty houses where

stranger is invited to

sup at our scarred table

such skillful stories he weaves

to splendid child

who is not yet versed

in deceptive wiles

and when she lays with him

it is the trust of

sun yet set on asylum hill

rounding out long day

for nothing is as bewitching

as the wish to believe

and in the morning

feel the marks of

deception

like rings of iron around

your trust

a splintered crown

such a silly girl

they say to your tears

this violation marks

the beginning of becoming

a woman

such as she stands

no longer pure of heart

holding her own progeny close, for soon

it will be their turn

to scatter seeds into sun

watch them grow

fitful and tall

against raining judgment

of the world

The hard as fuck girls – Candice louisa Daquin

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The hard as fuck girls

with their leopard eyes and sepia lips

set in twisted, pigtail granite

painted their hides with waterproofing

like the kind you put in the bottom of swimming pools

the muscles in their cheeks set so tight

they’d break a gobstopper with one bite

eating pickles like they were candy

no sour stomach, no need of remedy

the hard as fuck girls

survived asbestos, pinching boys and ant hills

broke their arms, laughed about the plaster itching

used youths rubber band as catapult

to get everything they required

including your heart and the french pleat dresses

my waist was too thick to fit into

they were Scarlet O’Hara before Rhett left her open-mouthed

Shirley MacLaine after she saw angels & demons

Lauren Bacall had their arching face

Katherine Hepburn the gamine grace

they didn’t like me much

I was a bleeding heart with too little guts

in fact they had no mercy for any girl

who didn’t seize the moment and say

this is what I want

FUCK the fear I’m on top

this is my day I don’t want a slice, I’ll take it all

and with lusty grinning glance ate

the cherry and the whip cream

with their little red tongues

licking the glass, round and

round til nothing more

was left

 

 

It’s all I know to do – Candice Louisa Daquin

Silent men are often admired

for their ability to endure quietly without complaint

whilst women who speak out are many times, vilified

behind their backs described as;

“that obnoxious woman who talked too much”

I lived with a silent man most of my life

he stared out of windows and when people died, his lips did not part

later on I realized it was a form of cowardice, not strength

later on, I saw how when good people say and do nothing

everything is fractured

if tomorrow I died, the people I have most admired

spoke out against tyranny and oppression

they even shared a confession or two

if they were female they were oft lampooned

if they were male they became more popular

because everyone loves a male sharer

this world is not kind to its daughters

its daughters are not kind to their sisters

it isn’t a gender battle but if it were

we have lost as we take on more, for less and less

sometimes I wonder if we had greater freedom

when our shackles were tighter

this is true of gays too, I can’t find within their collective

anything to be part of anymore

the world has grown strange and with it, myself

I heard on PBS yesterday half the world has been born

after the year of my birth, I am becoming less relevant

I could have told them I knew this already

by the way boys glances grow dimmer and there are no girls to love

for girls hesitate when you show them your heart

theirs is an unsure game of glancing round corners for prince charming

even as you stand proffering a depth they’d delight in

if they’d but give you a chance …

how ironic a man would make better match

yet you couldn’t stand, all that maleness

if I could become a creature instead of a human

I’d be a wolf

run with night pack, my loneliness obscured by trees and fur

if I could turn into a sea creature, plummet into water

or rise like a bird until clouds swallowed my shadow

for what succor is reason and what comfort, words?

when the world is a caustic, sharpened perpetual blade

and friends want friends who don’t resemble you

things you used to like, are lost in the figuring out, of how to get through

I used to fake it better and could wear a push-up bra for 12 hours without scratching

now all the edges are blurred, you left me in the fog to see my own way home

a place I no longer know, it has photos, but no key to open

I do not belong in my own picture frame

it’s been so long since I recognized an absence of pain

we used to laugh until our sides ached

sitting by the river watching the tanned folk preen and shake

their expensive personas

I liked the muddy waters best and all the out-of-the-way bars without names

I liked being nobody special and yet, I knew myself in a way I haven’t since

they took anonymity and gave it a new toll highway

when it’s my birthday save a slice for me, I’m not yet back to eating

I haven’t been made love to by someone who wanted to, in years

there’s emptiness behind the storage of sin and loose bolts, where you tried to squeeze in

I see your outline like a defeated smoke signal

we walk out to the table of earth, above the world

where you say you own nothing and have it all

my heart is heavy for all the suffering, that’s why I speak, even as you

stay silent on your boat, watching for ripples in the surface

I am beneath water, pushing air and words upward

it’s all I know to do

the curse of the confessional poet, hot whispered glares of disapproval

as they tut and turn away, their pigeon necks, bent and cooing

“she’s putting it all out there, for shame”

and you know what I think?

I think the shame is you

Preyed

 

Whispers penetrate flesh walls,
secrets resound like a melody
within the temple of mind.

A church choir of boys
sing Latin,
a tongue they never understood,
yet made beautiful in spite.

An angelic host of innocence,
perched in perfect rows;
perverse men licking dry lips
conduct harmony, as
chorus echoes in rounds
confined by marble stone
laid by hypocritical hands.

In time holy walls stand,
coffers full and overflowing
while souls remain empty.

Yet pride crumbles the benevolent,
corrupt tongues stumble awkwardly
over the dulled ivory teeth of time.

Stained glass fragments let in truth,
rays of light stream through darkness
reflecting a shattered faith sanctuary
built upon broken bones of man.

 

©Sabrina Escorcio
September 2017

Photo Credit, Sam Webber illustration for “the Priest That Preyed” – New York Times

 

When never is not forever – Candice Louisa Daquin

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The year is

somewhere back when

kissing in public would have

resulted in a shaming

it was not our shame

but we carried it high on our cheeks as if it were

the taunt of “lesbian bitches” like sharpened nails

prodding us to flee

and where could we run?

not your closed-minded house, nor mine

we had only the rugged country and its tilled earth

burning with our polished want

you told me, it was too hard

when you love, that’s what you eventually learn

to let go, if the pain is tormenting her

and I watched you

stumbling down the hill-side in your badly fitting rubber boots

tears obscuring your view

the purse I gave you, a mash of wool against your side

still I thought of chasing after your vanishing

but what would I say? What could I

a girl of mended pockets and thin chest of pennies

offer?

I thought of your heart-shaped face

the way the curls of your hair were blown straight

by fierce winds and the seeming condemnation

of nature

as if the spirits holding back the ice

threatened their eventual punishing

was it so? did something that felt so right really

reside in sin? and if this why was I given a

mismatched heart

latched to yours and never

the acrid stink of boys?

You, with your gentle malt brown eyes

and bitten nails rubbed raw, the way your knees

poked out of your tights like sharp stones

how your narrow shoulders threw back

the weight of sorrow as

you tried to make sense of things

broken and too heavy for either of us, even together

to move.

I lay in my singleton bed, tucked in by

the enduring chill of night and your jagged absence

pounding like a boulder on my chest

and if there had been a way to

take you away and build tree houses against

all who said

they’re going through a phase

if we separate them long enough

they are bound to find a good local boy

in time in time

oh love, my love, there is not enough time in this

short stacked life, or turn around empty stage

all its broken shells and lost moments curled

in the death of one season to the next

there is not enough power in the

minds of men and frowning adults

to leach this swollen sea from my lips

have your face vanquished along with it

no time can separate those who fate

decrees are bound

no condemnation is loud enough.

I let you go, an unfurled pain through aubergine fields

watching blurred from tears until you are beyond my gaze

even then rooted to the spot as it grew colder

you stood with me, wet cheeked, red with

high wind, the words caught from our mouths

blown like autumn around our woolen ankles

savage and whipping

the crack of old trees as they bend

unwilling and stiff

in the deluge of our hopelessness

I feel still the circle our fingers

made shared in one pocket for warmth and

how your lips tasted like cough drops and mine

or the warmth of your skin on my mouth

a scold from the whole world

who used ugliness to describe

what was always only ever beautiful

the catch of green in your iris, as if a spring shoot had said

I will grow despite the cold

and I could do nothing but let you absail away

our tether a kite, torn by tree branches

still in subsequent years, standing on the hill I saw

the string of us persisting long past its clossure

they said;  it will only take a season

perhaps a year at most

young hearts mend fastest

where did they learn that nonsense?

I grew beyond their chipped confines

you married a local boy, who gave you babies and hearth

without the fire

without the shared, reach of us

and my beckoning on our mountain

as we liked to think it was

when we were wild girls chasing each others burning flame

you smiled when you saw me again

many years hence; still the same full lips and high cheeks

like someone had thought carefully when

they carved you out of hill sides and left their grace in your shape

a woman now, of grown years in straight lines

you look up as I walk in, the chime of the door

wet shoes, dripping umbrella, badly fitting skirt

I can hardly hear the first words just your sound

my throat is closing, my cheeks flaming

our fingers touch beneath table-cloth

as if it were not the future

but that thursday atop the world

your buckled shoes scuffed by our climb

my breathless devour of the last moments

ticking down before

you turn

turn away and descend

into the world that says no to girls

I see fine lines against your eyes, the gentle curves of motherhood

you are wearing rings on all your fingers

and someone has released you from your bond

in the future you are free to ask me

meet at the coffee shop on the corner at ten

and the part of me who waited

watching the summit and our fall

and the part of me who stayed behind

seeing you go into the fog, become no more

and the part of me who knew

we’d return to each other like

coal is made in darkness and so are diamonds

where the taste of sudden storms and electricity

play on your neck and a rising blush

is a sunset in lost time

I saw us then, grown and still smiling

despite the savage world and its rules

you can try to take what is not yours to claim

I tell my enemies and the crows

as starlight falls on the empty shapes of our descent

we will in some hour, somewhere

hear again the beat of one another’s heart

steady and determined, despite the years apart

pull us close against like a final stitch

for I am hers and she is mine

washing over the heather and bracken

like light rain compels rainbows from

grey reluctant skies marbling

her hands in mine, the feeling of dissolving

for some are destined, no matter

will is won over, when never is not forever

and a promise stays growing

beneath fecund earth