That woman is me

OC_vanishing1sThe woman sat flaccid-bottomed on bath lip

squash of emotions beneath sturdy hips

pieces of her, no-one ever sees

water on full, hitting porcelain as drums beaten to recall

steam filling small room, obscuring

her grave emptying breasts as they urge to droop lower in hour

whisper of a nipple, against empty arms

when was the last time? She felt hands on her

lifting drummed grief within, recoiling of sadness for

blur and smooth music of touch?

Is she still a woman able to appeal?

or become the damp drying of paper walls

pealing and perishing with carved silence

and who would caress the broken parts of her

with equal ardor? Not minding

how her stomach rounded and slid

slightly sideways in its phantom gelatin mold

where the folds of her neck roosted

her opening legs a trust, erased

for she holds within herself an

eternity of scolds and loose threads

disliking the belch of flesh around her thighs

or the downward pull of stretched skin

marking its silver lines across her

like marauding seafarers

she is told she is beautiful

by those who over-use the word and

glut on dispelling fears like caged witches given

their freedom

but in her heart of hearts

where rosy trace of girlhood is long swept and vanquished

and mirrors are to be run past and shunned

the puckering of her forehead, and thin skinned clavical

knows the real scales of her drying self-hood curling inward

in its invariable regret

she is not the smooth melatonin

goddess of her dreams nor even young enough to stop

another heart with any part of her

physic movement or grace

yet she possesses still

a smile, pulled from depths, capable of

illuminating others darkness

and when she is not

angered by slouch of age and

hours spent hunched over making

worlds with words

withering in slow motion on the vine

of her choices and that stayed

moment she quit opening for sunlight

she remembers the fleet-footed

girl of yesterday, taken in the arms of those

who would give her ease from solitude

in their reverence of her youth

though, it is not now, now she is alone

the bath filling high and her wish

to step into hot water and be absorbed by fantasy

to be touched again in feelings now stored away

only taken out briefly when facing herself and

the strange quality of her diminishing reflection

a voice within

rarely permitted to verbalize

the absence and loneliness of her skin

for if it could speak

surely those words would, catch the damp of her

ardor and unsaid want and cry out

oh just once more! Let me feel the rounding

desire we take for granted in youth

a touch through time, relieving ache

of years spent sleeping, back to the wall

hands beneath pillows, unwanted in disappearing skin

the burning of such need

a fire beneath closed eyes

seeking refuge in other worlds

where you are as you were

and have always been

devoured by your passion

the feeling of you inside, reminding us both

of life abundant

without loathing nor reducing

that woman

reaching out

is me

Writers/Artists Wanted for Upcoming Brave and Reckless Prompt Themes – Christine E. Ray

I am quite enamored with the response my daily writing prompts for Brave and Reckless have generated.  I am getting to know new writers, reading great writing, and being creatively inspired myself.

In a burst of inspiration, I have put together the prompts for the next two months.  August’s theme will be Feminist Book Titles and September will be Lesbian Book Titles.  I realize that these may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but know that I very carefully chose titles that I thought could be creatively inspiring to anyone.  You certainly don’t need to be a feminist or a lesbian to participate, but if you don’t believe that women are human beings who deserve basic human right I doubt you would be following Whisper and the Roar.

In any case, I would like to take things up a notch for August and September.  I am hoping that some of you might be willing to take on one of these future prompts and submit a prompt-inspired piece for publishing on Brave and Reckless (and quite likely Whisper and the Roar) when the prompt goes live to inspire other writers.

The only rules are: 1) that you use the book title as your piece title OR that you integrate all the words in the title into your piece somehow. Poetry, prose, short fiction, and art are all welcome; 2) you send your piece to me (her.red.pen.wordsmithing@gmail.com) in advance; and, 3) your piece gets published on Brave and Reckless before you share it anywhere else.

If you are intrigued, see the prompt lists below and let me know whether you are interested. I am hoping that every prompt will be covered by at least one writer- if one speaks to you, please let me know:

Feminist Book Title Challenge – August 2019

1. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
2. When God Was a Woman – Merlin Stone
3. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Wolf
4. Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
5. Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit
6. Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde
7. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
8. This Bridge Called My Back – Cherrie Moraga (Editor) & Gloria Anzaldua (Editor)
9. In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens – Alice Walker
10. The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan
11. The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir
12. The Body Is Not an Apology – Sonya Renee Taylor
13. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
14. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Gilman
15. We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
16. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
17. The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
18. The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf
19. Ain’t I a Woman? – Bell Hooks
20. Women Who Run With Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estés
21. Backlash – Susan Faludi
22. Against Our Will – Susan Brownmiller
23. The witch doesn’t burn in this one – amanda lovelace
24. The Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston
25. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
26. How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran
27. Girl Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
28. Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman – Lindy West
29. What We’re Told Not To Talk About – Nimiko Ali
30. Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other lies – Scarlett Curtis
31. she must be mad – Charly Cox

Lesbian Book Title Challenge- September 2019

1. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
2. Rubyfruit Jungle – Rita Mae Brown
3. Desert of the Heart – Jane Rule
4. Happy Endings Are All Alike – Sandra Scoppettone
5. Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
6. The Price of Salt – Patricia Highsmith
7. The Well of Loneliness – Radclyffe Hall
8. The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M. Danforth
9. Stone Butch Blues – Leslie Feinberg
10. The Gravity Between Us – Georgia Beers
11. Curious Wine – Katherine V. Forrest
12. Her Name in the Sky – Kelly Quindlen
13. Crush – Jane Futcher
14. SKIM – Mariko Tamiki/Jillian Tamiki
15. The Girls in 3B – Valerie Taylor
16. Orlando – Virginia Wolf
17. Fun Home – Allison Bechdel
18. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
19. BODYMAP – Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha
20. Kissing the Witch – Emma Donoghue
21. The One Hundred Nights of Hero – Isabel Greenberg
22. Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta
23. Keeping You a Secret – Julie Anne Peters
24. Ash – Melinda Lo
25. The Wanderground by Sally Miller Gearhart
26. The Space Between – Michelle L. Teichman
27. Here Comes the Sun – Nicole Dennis-Benn
28. The Truth That Never Hurts – Barbara Smith
29. Juliet Takes a Breath – Gabby Rivera
30. If You Could Be Mine – Sara Farizan

Somebody – by HLR

Stumbling out of the pub last night we heard the helicopter before we saw it. “Air ambulance,” he said. “Trouble in someone’s home tonight,” I replied.

Then, first thing this morning, the news:
A few doors down from the house where I grew up.
Mass brawl turned into knife fight.
3 men stabbed.
2 in hospital.
1 dead.

The street where I learned to ride a bike,
where I used to play football
with the other neighbourhood kids,
where I used to climb the trees,
where I had my first kiss
is now a crime scene.

Murder inquiry. Police cordons. Forensic tents.
The street that held so many innocent
childhood memories now runs red
with the blood of three young men.

Immediately, panic. “Please God, let it not be somebody I know.” Panic, panic, panic, thinking of the people I know who live around there who would likely be involved in such a thing. There are many names running through my mind, too many. But no confirmed names. So we all keep praying: please please please don’t be someone I know.

Text to my brother: are you alive???

The rumour mill starts up. Gossip. Nosy neighbours. Twatter. Somebody who knows someone who knows someone that was or was not there or was nearby or heard something or spoke to a copper or knows a guy that knows another guy who heard something somewhere from somebody.

Text from my brother: yah just seen the news. way too close to home man

The story changes every 2 minutes. “Foreigners.” “Domestic incident.” “Polish.” “GMG.” “Drug dispute.” “Blacks.” Whole human lives and a world of misery reduced to a word or two. Still we wait for names and pray to a God that clearly isn’t here.

Text from B: Very sad. house has been taped off back garden has blood everywhere waiting for the forensic people to come out let you know if I find out anything

Text from J: Fukin terrible mate. Streets aint safe anywhere anymore. Waitin on names to come out hopefully not anyone we know

Text from M: omg do we know them? jesus this horrendous !!! RIP.

Text from D: Just heard on radio, bloody hell. It wasn’t outside the pub was it? x

Text from S: ive herd 10 diffrent stories! better not be anyone we fukin kno xxx

Text from F: Sad news about our street. What is wrong with the world 😥 Hope you’re keeping well babe, must meet soon, it’s been aaages! ❤

Then, news from a reliable source. “Not from round here.” “No one we know.” “Not one of ours.” Relief. Sick relief. Cruel relief. Shameful relief. Inappropriate relief. Insensitive relief. Somebody died last night but not someone we know. Thank you, God. Shameful relief, but relief nonetheless.

Then, anger. Somebody died last night. What the fuck are we going to do about this? How do we stop this? Where are the police? Where is Sadiq Khan? What on earth are politicians doing about this? When are judges going to start giving hard sentences? When are prisons going to become less like hotels and more like hell? How many more people have to die before something changes? When will this stop?

I fear that knife crime in London
will only cease to be a problem
once everybody has been
stabbed to death.

The heavens have opened over north London.
The rain has come to wash the blood away.
Another day, another slain by a blade.
The forecast for tomorrow: more of the same.

HLR is a 20-something writer of creative non-fiction, mainly short prose and poetry. She writes about challenging subjects such as mental illness, addiction, suicide and grief with an injection of sardonic British droll—a style acquired through years of mental angst and too much time spent in the pub. Perpetually on the verge of either a breakdown or a breakthrough (sometimes both) HLR was born and raised in north London, and is yet to escape. A list of previous publications can be found here.

Find more of HLR’s fabulous and powerful writing here on her webpage and with the writing collective Hijacked Amygdala  here

Writing Prompt: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Throughout the month of July, Christine has been providing daily writing prompts based on the title of a beloved Children’s book on Brave and Reckless. They are designed to inspire readers to write a poem, prose piece, or a piece of flash fiction in 30 minutes or less.

Speak is an important and groundbreaking young adult book about the after-effects of sexual trauma. We hope you will consider writing or creating art in response to the prompt.

The only rule is that you use the book title as your piece title OR integrate the title into your piece.

If you would like to have your piece considered for publication on Brave and Reckless, email your prompt inspired pieces to Christine at her.red.pen.wordsmithing@gmail.com.

You can also participate on Facebook by tagging your writing with:
• # the title of the daily theme
• #kidsbookchallenge
• @braveandreckless66

or on Instagram by tagging your writing with:
• #kidsbookchallenge
• @indiebluwritersnetwork

You can also share your response pieces in the comments below.

speak-laurie-halse-anderson-book-cover

 

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

6d502f4b592d0e15ed0c667269f3515b

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