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.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: I Will Rise – Layla Summers

I can still feel his hands on me
Grabbing too roughly
Holding too tightly
Leaving a lingering sting
Long after the slap on the face

I can still hear his begging
The pure disappointment
No -that’s too kind a word-
The disguised fury
When I said no to sex

I can still feel it
How he decided to fuck me anyway
How he kissed me
Making me gag on his tongue
How he’d bite my neck
How he’d do anything
Until I gave up

I can still feel it
His jaws clenched way too tight
On my breasts

I can still hear him
Sounding so pleased
So thrilled with himself

He was my first true
“Relationship”
And yet I was his prisoner
His plaything

I vividly remember the last time
I remember the rage in his eyes
Because I didn’t want to have sex
5 days before my birthday,
The anniversary of the first time I was raped
At twelve years old,
But he didn’t care
And he fucked me anyway
Because I’d “been doing fine”

What he doesn’t know
Is I am a Phoenix
And I will rise from the ashes
Of my broken self


I am a poet, author, and playwright. I have been writing for almost seven years as a way to cope with my traumas and bipolar disorder. Now I use my writing to show others they are not alone. My writing can be found on Wattpad under HealingTatteredWings. By overcoming the past, we can do more than survive. We can all thrive together. My heart goes out to all those who need someone there for them.

Neither you and neither me – Candice Daquin

 

Behind closed doors I am a different animal

I eat my food protectively and with great bites

I play dress-up and pretend

I am a typical only child used to a secret life

sometimes it is lonely and sad and often after

socializing I long to rid myself of the feeling of being

filled up with too many people and too many words

the reason I have few lines on my face is

I don’t speak for hours often gallivanting in my head

stories and themes and wonders

whilst outwardly impassive and calm.

When I was younger I loved to

wear fancy dress and make up stories and climb trees

when it became the time to give those things up

I did never find a suitable replacement

if I had my way I would dance and blow up balloons

eat cake and make love and little else

a hedonist with a conscience, one friend said

you care so much and then you wish you did not

people have always remarked upon how

well together I am, with my matching colors and my greese-proof make-up that doesn’t run when I scream

but it is absolutely a mask, clowns buy in bulk

one becoming a little threadbare as I

get out of practice and grow older

my hands resemble a milk maids and the times I have howled

show in the corners of my yawning mouth like apostrophes of regret

in the past I’d just have plaited

ribbons in my hair and worn a torn chemise

all the world would have said; Adorable!

But now, damn it, I want to be liked for who I am

not that miracle of long hair obscuring

layers and layers hiding, the girl beneath

who never did like how she looked

too masculine, too strong jawed, too high forehead

as I age I see the thin-lipped hydra smile of my dad more pronounced

vanity whispers; Botox and Rejuvaderm can solve that

yet I hesitate

something unbrushed and feral in my blood saying

don’t give up being wild and seeking the rheumatic lore

thinking in my mind of all my family, how

like short-lived butterflies they bloomed young and grew old fast

in things of skin and bone

but their spirits were always wild

like they continued to roam

and I love that

it’s the one thing about my legacy I am proud

when it is quiet and I am sorrowful and piteous

I think of my grandmother stomping in her big heavy boots

lines around her mouth from dragging on her fags

taking the dog for his seven mile walk

up into the heath we clambered

her giving me tips on avoiding a receding hairline (well coconut oil didn’t fix that)

whilst I longed to sneak off for a cigarette myself

we’re a nest of night tokers until we become unwell

or if there had been a lover, a little bit of slap and tickle

I was always unrestrained and apt to be naughty

she was exactly the same that I knew

we all possess a fierce loyalty to the idea of love

even if it disappoints

you might say

we’re a cracked family of romantics

ransoming reality for a second bite of cake

I smoke in my dreams

and I kiss you with closed eyes

I don’t want to be 34 or 73

even as we all shrivel and decrease

I long to find that diving pool again and

swim underwater long enough

when I emerge I am neither you

and neither me

 

Your bloody daughter – Candice Louisa Daquin

What would you tell her

The you of twenty years ago

Your bloody daughter

Wiped on doctor’s sleeve

What would you say?

Lying there with your legs open and mind shut

Would you tell her about all the false starts?

Or pick a cliché, like time goes so fast

Would you sit by the river eating damp sandwiches

And say only one thing

Don’t forget

Oh please, do not …

Because it runs out

And the music stops

You realize you didn’t find

In squirming crowd and nubile bundle of years

That self-assured hand of worship

Divination and objection

Pulling you out of horror

A soaking crimson thing

Searching for tapestry within wider weave

Throwing runes in fire pits

Eating the marrow of after birth

To discoverment

What would you tell her to look for ?

Learn the meaning before running

Barelegged catching scratches, leaving blood

Weeds pressed at their fragile necks by the thunder of your sprint

Straightening afterward, leaving no trace

Swaying all, in direction of beckoning wind

Tumbling off high rocks

Their granite faces scowling

Disapprobation carved into their carbon

As surely as your little chest heaves with the labor

Of surviving

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