OUR MOTHERS AND THE MEN THAT GUIDE THEM- Timothy Tarkelly

 

The younger men
of my neck of the woods,

gather
at their rain-trodden stomping grounds.

They navigate battleship trucks
through the mud

until one is proven
to be better than the rest (commander).

The women gather there,

As they haven’t missed this show
since the resurrection.

The boys, like roosters

pin calls of prowess

and “until morning,”

Allowing lips to meet, separate,
sign terms, and promise rewards:

a fifty-five inch piece of glass.

It will mark where she belongs.

She will tell her neighbors
that it was what she wanted.

When the door is closed,

the curtains drawn,

the TV tells a different story.

Lips meet the lips of strangers,

deals are broken.

She wants to be one of the liars,
smokers, sexual beings

craving pain in her joints,

and tired brows, strained teeth.

Her mind wanders to a softer mattress

As foreign (brown) hands
quicken a pulse thought dead…
buuuuuut…the deal she made
so many years before.

“Leave the bending hips and smacking lips
to those who can bare to lose them.

I will take it straight. I will take it on my back.”


Timothy Tarkelly has had poetry featured by Paragon Journal, GNU, Whisper and the Roar, Haunted Waters Press, Cadaverous Magazine, Poets & War, Cauldron Anthology, Lycan Valley Press, Fourth & Sycamore, and Aphelion. When he is not writing, he works for a non-profit that serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence in western Kansas.

Girls Aren’t For Beating/Rachel Finch

I take rejection like a winner, spit the blood

from my mouth when you’ve finished

pounding childhood

trauma into my lungs, smile through the bruises,

keep your secrets in my throat, along with your name.

I won’t speak you into existence.

My body tapped out but my Spirit’s in the ring, I won’t go down.

Fists don’t need words to speak, shades of you staining my cheekbone, a child’s signature.

Numb, I am transparent.

Still, you never knew when to stop. I used to watch the bubbles of anger form on your lips and think maybe if he kissed me this wouldn’t hurt.

I was underdeveloped, rage, half your size and yet it was you who hurt.

Tears falling from your eyes, a little voice in my chest screaming I know and I couldn’t silence her.

I swallowed your shame and stomached it better than you could. I want to spit you out but you’ve flavoured my tongue and there are traces of you in the back of my eyelids.

You thought women were weak, but the same hands you bound, ground herbs, whispered sacred words and wiped the salt that you couldn’t carry from your face.

Little boy, calm your rage. Girls are not for beating. Grow into the skin you hide behind, watch how the women do it without heaving.

I take rejection like a winner, climbing on the steps I stumbled on. Kicking them to pieces behind me. You can’t reach me up here, floating with the fireflies.

Bite your tongue, learn release, I might reach down my hand.

A Statistic- Timothy Tarkelly

 

Without a reason to rise, they fall

and break upon a gentle chin,

young and daring to look up.

A graceless splash

drowns everyone

within arm’s reach.

The branches missed on the way down?

Pocket change

and the jobs they think they should have taken.


Timothy Tarkelly has had poetry featured by Paragon Journal, GNU, Whisper and the Roar, Haunted Waters Press, Cadaverous Magazine, Poets & War, Cauldron Anthology, Lycan Valley Press, Fourth & Sycamore, and Aphelion. When he is not writing, he works for a non-profit that serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence in western Kansas.

 

Stuck- Viola Bleu

 

 

Her feet wouldn’t move; welded to the floor they were. She knew she needed to leave the
bedroom, wanted to most desperately. But those feet were stuck in mud, or concrete. She
looked down to check but the pink socks with the dirty fluffy soles were quite free of
shackles.
His voice – hoarse from shouting – was still for some seconds. The silence more scary than
the hateful words directed at the back of her head on the pillow a few moments before.
She had stopped arguing. Stopped trying to reason. He had an answer for everything, and was always right. He was so hard done by, he’d shouted. And he’d punched the wooden sections on the door to illustrate his frustrations. He had never hit her and was proud of the fact he would never hit a woman. The door beading had given way at one end, but the old pine held firm at the other and she watched as he knocked it back in place. Hide it from the kids.
“I want to sleep now. We will talk in the morning.” She heard the words leave her mouth and something willed her feet to finally move towards the door.
“Why don’t you sleep in the marital bed? Hey? Hey?” He was off again, pushing himself up from the edge of the bed, pupils dilated with anger.
Those few steps gained her some courage and suddenly she was out on the landing, passing him. It would be ok. He would sleep it off, the gin, and wake the nicer version.
“I’ll see you in the morning.” more calmly than she felt, she closed the door of the spare
bedroom, old wallpaper from years of tiny people showing her the way to the single bed. She wobbled a little as the adrenalin started to falter, and felt for the edge of the duvet in the dark, soft and inviting between her fingers. She fought the urge to cry.
The cool sheets felt good as she extended her toes down between the unslept-in linen… and then heard floorboards move next door. She stopped and held her breath, praying he would slump into his bed and leave her alone.
The brass door knob moved; it turned and clicked and the door gently opened. His form
clearly visible with the hall light behind, he stood in silence, filling the space.
Her heartbeat was bursting from her ears, she was sure he’d be able to hear it. From
somewhere she found the strength to speak calmly, “what are you doing – go to sleep.” She then laid down and faced away; faced the wall and placed her cold and shaking fingers between her thighs and wished she was wearing more than a T-shirt. Jamming her jaws together, she lay there, determined her body should gain the sleep it deserved.
Some moments passed. He stood and stared. She could just tell he had not moved. Anger
bubbled away, how dare he do this. She was conversant from her research that she should be free to sleep in her own home without fear. And yet here she was scared out of her mind. It was her fault he was drunk and angry. According to him. But she was determined to talk in the morning, when the sunlight in the kitchen made everything seem far less sinister.
“I want to go to sleep!” She could bear it no longer, and begged him to leave.
“Go ahead. I’m not stopping you. This is my son’s room and I will stand where I want in my house.”
She was stuck, well and truly stuck.


I write under the name Viola Bleu and am in the process of creating my first manuscript which one day may be offered as a novel to the outside world.   My website/blog space is Ideas.Become.Words.

Heritage: Kobiety- Timothy Tarkelly

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I don’t know the women,

but I picture them strong.

Their names are echoes

of patron saints,

or famous travelers;

the heroines of cabbage eating people.

The men, though:

Vladislav, Vostok,

Wachek.

 

They saw men

on wood and linoleum stages.

They saw themselves

pulled by an aluminum bridle.

Men need nourishment,

even before the sun can shake its disapproval.

Electric veins course until lunch time.

Refill! Beer run!

Whiskey

under the gut and ready to burn

at a moment’s notice.

 

Time cards:

the analog tick of sore bodies

and shameful performance.

“Refill!” “Set them free!”

Off to feel the gentle ease

of tension being replaced

with expectation.

Which echo will they hear after dinner?

Home,

or the nymph?

 

Musical interludes

of sweat and fun abroad

delay the inevitable.

The day isn’t over

until vibrato folds to chemistry,
wife and babe feel the result,

and grow the bruises to prove it.

 

The drive —

we’ll call it work ethic —

to do it all again,

in spite of sorrow and having anything better to do,

is something to be admired

in a cutesie, but dark denial-laden fashion.

So,

I guess I’m doing okay.

 

Image courtesy of Pinterest


Timothy Tarkelly has had poetry featured by Paragon Journal, GNU, Whisper and the Roar, Haunted Waters Press, Cadaverous Magazine, Poets & War, Cauldron Anthology, Lycan Valley Press, Fourth & Sycamore, and Aphelion. When he is not writing, he works for a non-profit that serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence in western Kansas.

Withholding- Wendi Clouse

 

No smile or wave in the gray light of dawn, instead a dark look and turn.
Withholding.
She melts beside me, shrinking.
Wondering, like a scolded pup, what she did to earn
the coldness—and how long it will last,
this time.
In the light of day, I wonder too.
Stinging.
Thoughts tumble, memories of words and phrases, like a bad novel
that put me in her place, but without a mother as a shield
with words to deflect
provocation.
Stilted exchange in the cool color of evening.
Unnerved.
Too bright with effort of an olive branch, extended,
tersely brushed aside in censure.
I am shrinking too.
Failing.


Wendi Clouse, PhD. has spent the last decade as a research analyst within the arena of higher education. After numerous academic publications in refereed journals, which include New Approaches in Educational Research and Management in Education, she has recently, returned to her roots to work on a body of poetry, which explores the complex and often hidden life, of aging women. You can read more her writing at The Eggcorn