Friday, November 30, 2018


The Danger of Alone

When I get into my car alone at night
I check behind all the seats
open up the back
peer into the most unlikely of places
to make sure no one’s
hiding inside

When I run alone
I take note of my surroundings
cars parked and abandoned
men milling about
where I am at all times
a hand on my phone for quick retrieval

When I am home alone
every light is left

And when I’m exhausted
by the measure to which
I must go to remain safe,
I remember:
I’d rather be safe than
assaulted raped dead

- Rachel Toalson

Thursday, November 29, 2018



Let's draw a picture of
just you and me
wait! there's mommy so she makes three
combs my hair with reckless
this blur has just come
and slipped it's
hands in
this is not the blur
it's not the blur
can't focus my eyes
too many thoughts collide
this isn't the blur that I saw last time
not the same blur
not the same one at all.

Feel it pushing past my teeth
rolls like dice
lands with a clink
snake-eyed blur staring up at me, this
shallow, worker-smith's heat
he says
aren't you awful shy, my love,
so here is what I think
it's not they or them
or you or I
shoved, as children,
into the temperance fire
my dark-haired darling,
we are meant to
have these trials.
Of course, I say,
of course.
I wait for someone to
pull me up from
out of this

- Cristina Kennington

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


A French Jet Necklace​

A daughter, let's call her Anna, sees her reflection​
in the glass beads strung together in a necklace​
wrapped with a label in her mother's writing.​

The mother calls to check Anna received the gift​
and says it was bought as a present for the mother ​
from an antique fair so is genuine Whitby jet.​

Anna lets the recycled gift comment pass, but ​
raises an eyebrow at being told the beads are genuine.​
She tests them: they are fake.​

Politeness demands Anna thanks her mother​
for the gift. Anna knows if she doesn't wear​
the beads in her mother's company, her mother​

will demand to know their whereabouts​
and why Anna is so ungrateful. If guests ​
are present, Anna's failing will be made public.​

And what sort of daughter wouldn't be gracious​
about receiving a gift, even if recycled? What daughter​
wouldn't be delighted in a fake antique necklace?​

And the guests, who might be forced to choose​
between believing a mother's apparent generosity​
or a daughter's claim of worthlessness,​

which side will they take? Anna partially cuts ​
the string. In her mother's shadow, it takes a quick tug​
to break and let the beads fall to the floor.​

Guests scurry to help collect scattered beads.​
Anna's mother stands rigid. Anna, now without​
necklace, expresses gratitude to the guests.​

- Emma Lee​

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Black Fly Driveby Lyrics

I can feel
pouring in
like a thousand
flickers of flame
pouring down my
eyes like a thousand
bits of worry, a night
of fury hands and
warmth kept in blankets
over our heads,
acid on our
tongues, poisoned
kisses and showers for
hours on end I can still
hear you in my head as the
world just melted and fell
when we were alone
in my room.

The news was on
and I could still
hear you
in the other room.
The news spoke of worse
than ever before
but all I could hear
was the sound of you wake
and wonder
where I was
and you fell back
to what I’m unsure
I couldn’t hear
you move or breathe
but your hand outstretched
as you lay in my bed
searching for the body
that didn’t hear what you said.

- Cristina Kennington

Monday, November 26, 2018


Conversation with a White Man I

He said, we don’t have a rape culture in the United States
I said, why don’t you poll a random sampling of women and see what they say

He said, wait, aren’t men and women equal?
I started laughing and found I couldn’t stop

He said, are we living in the same world
I said, I don’t know, are we?


Conversation with a White Man II

You must be out of your mind, he said
I said nothing

There are mental issues in you, he said
I said nothing

You are ignorant, he said
I took a deep calming breath

I said, I know who I am
I said, And it’s not who you say I am
I said, I am Woman

strong kind courageous
worthy of dignity and respect
and an opportunity to


Conversation with a White Man III

Believing an allegation
against a person based
solely on gender is
ignorant and dangerous, he said

I said, What’s really ignorant
is believing a woman
could ever win against
a powerful man


Conversation with a White Man IV

He said, I’ll forgive you, even though you haven’t apologized

I said, I’ve been apologizing my whole life
I said, I’m done apologizing
I said, From now on I only

- Rachel Toalson

Sunday, November 25, 2018



The postmaster drove a Cadillac
with the design of an ace
on each tail light. He was a big door
of a man, with matching wife.
We sat with Ace, my mother and I,
on the steps of the pool.
Ace took me on his lap
and as they chatted his fingers
moved beneath my ballerina
swimsuit, until they found
that hidden spot between my lips.
I couldn’t swim yet but quietly
freed myself and floated away
in my bright orange float coat.
After that when we picked up
the mail I hid behind my mother.
She continued to joke with Ace
and his wife, comfortable and friendly,
the way one does in a small town
where everyone thinks they know
everyone’s business.

- Tamara Madison

Saturday, November 24, 2018


All Emmas have a tragic end​

at least in pop songs: suicide, overdose, ​
injuries from a car crash, an empty house​
left behind after drowning, sentenced ​
to hell and silence, the end of an affair ​
with the lover who saps her strength.​
Emma found herself incommunicado,​
falling like rain under grey cloud,​
a red, Christmas flower under acid tears,​
silenced in drunken streets and misunderstood.​
She was a blonde angel, a princess, a blue-eyed baby,​
who wanted to be a star, who wanted better​
who couldn’t see she was all she needed to be,​
who wanted to be human, to be loved.​
Emma’s the girl known by everyone.​

- Emma Lee​

Friday, November 23, 2018


The Last Sunday

When you go to the America First Trumpist Church it is all very white 
Of course the building is white clapboard 
And the deacon who draws you through the door is white 
And all the ladies 
And the white washed face of Jesus that beams down on you 

No matter how old you were when you went in 
Now you are five or six 
And the floor furnace is the gateway to hell 
Where the little blue flames lick and dance 
Because they know you are not actually white 

The dirt that you have soaked into your soul 
Which you pictured as an organ shaped like a cross between 
The liver and an old brown shoe from cartoons 
But you know that your soul is moldy and spotted 
You are not white and clean 

And for today’s scripture we will hear how we are justified 
To discriminate against the gays 
To revile the kneeling protester 
To stop the gift of food to the needy school children 
Because none of that is white and clean and trumply 

And then they will all stand and swear to the national flag 
And they will pray for people who are like them and for others to be like them 
Or instead you must fall on the floor furnace grate 
And be branded with dark waffle iron grids burnt into your palms 
You will not come clean 

And when they all rise as one 
Your legs no longer work 
And the congregation will fall on you because 
The right thing to do is purge the crippled, 
Remove the unclean from their midst 
Before singing one last hymn 


-Mary Gainer

Thursday, November 22, 2018


You Kept Doing It

You kept doing it.
You tipped over the box of photographs
and they spilled all over the floor.
You left your purse with the passports back in the cabin.
You couldn’t understand the point of that important movie because
you can’t conceptualize.
You spaced out when that lady got on the bus speaking your language
and you could have helped her say what she needed
but you weren’t paying attention.
What were you thinking about?

You kept doing it.
You broke stuff.
You said the wrong things.
You were hungry when it wasn’t time and thirsty
—-Goddamn it can’t you see there’s nothing to drink? —
when he wasn’t.
When he didn’t talk for the two days it took
to go from Vienna to Istanbul you kept asking what was wrong.

And you kept doing it.
You made too much of the food he didn’t like and not enough of what he did.
You smiled when that guy was talking to you.
You used that awful diaphragm except for the time when you didn’t
and you know what happened next.

Sometimes he wanted to just punch you but he would never do that,
of course, you knew he loved you.
You would let him massage your back and your feet.
You would let him read your journals whenever he wanted.
You would let him make love to you so well that you would keep thinking about it
all the next day.
And you just kept on doing it.

- Tamara Madison

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


Collage by Anna Badua with a poem by Ono no Komachi

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


More or Less or…

our bodies were the problem

I heard them out on the playground
talking about the “rack” on one of my friends
discussing the ass of another
pontificating about the lovely legs of the tall one

I was eleven years old
when I realized we could be
talked about
high-fived about
bragged about

we could be
in spaces of artificial safety
like homes and gyms and churches

we were a footnote on the
pages of their masculine lives
and it all boiled down
to our flesh and bones and blood

we may have been
more than our bodies
but we couldn’t possibly
be less

- Rachel Toalson

Monday, November 19, 2018


Yeah, I'm Fine, Thanks

Oh, don’t worry about me, honey--
I can pour fine bourbon out my fingers
if I concentrate and push,
spill inky sapphires onto my notebook,
send time and space both flying
with each pen stroke

therapy, and drugs, and emotional support
are for the wealthy;
I have a pen
and my own soul

trust me, I don’t need you

I’m here if you need anything,
you said.

I guess you were worried I’d be torn up
after you ripped me to shreds.

But I have something, and it ain’t even a secret.
I have the power to defy pain.
I have DNA that survived a genocide.
I have cells that outlasted an abuser.
I have a body that still cums even after being raped.
I have hips that hold to fat even after starving.
I have a heart that loves, and

I have a pen

- Samantha Clarke

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Staring at the Walls

Subtle twang of
ringing in my ears
awake to the sound
of the door closing
another night alone,
the bedroom falls
to dark
the carpet stings my
bare knees
scratch at my insides for
sweet release
no, I won't
I won't
keep playing house when
there's no one home
but me
I won't
keep acting like there's anything
left to be
I won't
cause, for you
the world is one never-ending
and I'm sick
No, I won't
I won't
walk straight
gonna reinforce these walls with
steel bars and ration jars
geode skulls and
skin of my teeth
no, I won't
I won't
stack my weight
I've finally got this
bony shell on
no, I won't
I won't
open the bedroom door
I'm too old for you
and it's too bad
all that time spent filling
me up with lies
watching you cry with all that
in your eyes
and now it's over and
you're surprised
so, no
I won't
it's not meant to be
I won't
cause I
won't be the last
to leave.

- Cristina Kennington

Saturday, November 17, 2018


The Professor’s Daughter

She drew carefully in the margins
of her notes — elaborate vines,
leaves, flowers. She was quiet,
childlike, sad for all things young
and innocent. Her father made a big
deal about us, explained the literary
genres that our movies belonged to,
kissed our hands like a continental
gentleman. I didn’t understand
my friend’s disgust. He was so
sweet! He drinks champagne all day
was all she’d say. Once she was
in the hospital for three days,
swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills,
but it didn’t work. When I felt down,
a shower or a walk were all I needed.
If she had told me the truth
about what her father did to her,
I would not have understood.
My own father drank scotch
and hooted like an owl; nothing
to hold against a man.

- Tamara Madison

Friday, November 16, 2018


Speak, he said.

And then he interrupted
time and time again,

asserting his power,
his superiority,
his arrogant grasp of facts.

When a woman hears, speak,
she knows it’s never for long.

- Rachel Toalson

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Family Tradition

you were beaten until
your glasses and teeth broke
you were ignored and over
worked, touched by your step-father
you were deaf till five
you were raped by every step-father
for years you were taught
god was salvation

you were told you were the messiah
you were told you were the devil
you were told your opinion didn't matter
to shut up and get out
that you were a worthless little shit
that you had no brains no future no guts no sense
and in the meantime
your father drank himself
into oblivion and violence
your mother was blind

The parents who made you
try to kill you as surely
it's the family tradition
the father who kicked you
the mother who called you disgusting
who blamed you for their lives
and so beat you, taunted you
allowed you to be damaged

and we?
artists because we have to be
else we'd be out there as missionaries
for the system we inherited
fathers beating, mothers letting
stepfathers raping, mothers being jealous
mothers' killing words, fathers being gone
mothers and fathers be damned

I'll be your father, you be mine
we'll fuck and make a mother to beat them all
she will stride big and strong in blue jeans
and a baseball t-shirt that says "Athena"
stout legged and gorgeous breasts
she has milk enough for all of us
and honey to follow
her braids are long as Rapunzel's
salvation and we swing through
the mountains of her capacity to love
as though we were the wind
and her arms were the air

she is a destroyer of destroyers
our Mamma-Shiva
our Matron Saint
the one we should have had

- Jeanette Powers

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


I Didn't Want to Survive

Life may be unimaginable
without those great battles
we fight with ourselves.
The war inside fought
against our hearts and minds,
tears in our eyes, begging
forgiveness, for the love
we swear to deserve and
cherish, for that which
keeps our bodies warm and
comforted at night,
for all that has been lost
to never be found again along the way.
Life may never be the same,
may never be unquestionably good
or without pain. The car crashes
and thoughts thrown like ashes
through the windshield, the dark
and silent moment
where there's nothing left
to fight for. When there's
nothing more that could damage
anything that may remain intact.
Shattered little beings just
crashing into one another
screaming out in agony as our
lies to ourselves uncover
no skin left to shed. Little bleeding
hearts with pulpy beats on the pavement
pounding out our songs to the world
and praying to God or someone to hear and
push our trampled hearts back from
whence they came, deep in the dark
and deep within our chests. Our little selves
with sockets empty and raw from the war
so large they seem to be all we're made of.
A walking, talking, gaping hole with no
recollection of how to breathe or think
and our world crushed underfoot as we sit,
staring at our broken hearts on the floor
after being thrown back at ourselves with the
comet-tail of others' judgment. We sit
watching it beat back against the rain
trying to wash it clean. Red light pouring from
the street as cars rush past, hurrying to crash
into others and splatter their own lives
onto the street. Watching everything rush past.
Watching. And waiting
for the world to change.

- Cristina Kennington

Tuesday, November 13, 2018



What binds me to this earth
are the hands of my children,
as I hold my mother
holding her mother
back to the mother
who begat us all.
This is gravity.
This is why we call the earth Mother,
why all rising is a miracle.

- Donna Hilbert

Monday, November 12, 2018



They say you can’t play with them.
They’re doing important stuff.
You’d be in the way.

They make loud noises.
They get dirty.
They push past you and you lose your balance.

Later, they like you but can’t say it.
They mumble and blush.
It’s sweet.

They ask for your number.
They call and are shy.
You feel flushed with moonlight.

They love you; you fall for it.
You don’t give them what they want.
They are gone.

Or they fall for you.
Their helplessness is touching.
You hold the power.

The power feels good.
They say they will call but they don’t.
What happened to the power?

They need you.
They will give you everything.
You are not stupid, but you fall.

You know the answers. But:
No one listens to you, girl.
You don’t know shit.

They hire you but pay you less.
They ignore your ideas
then claim them as their own.

One of them understands.
He is kind and sweet.
You join that one.

You are pregnant.
You are happy.
Your are lost in the tide of mammal life.

This is the power at last,
A tiny being needing only you.
This one will be the sweetest of the sweet.

- Tamara Madison

Sunday, November 11, 2018



what justice can there be
when a 97yr old Jewish woman
outlived Hitler during WW2

only to be killed by an errant
nazi-republican from today’s ignorant american hellfire
while attending temple
in Squirrel Hill
on a windy October Saturday?

there is some profound injustice in that evil,
but I know the oblivious pitchfork
and torch trump followers
will miss it

or revel in it
like pigs
in shit

- Heidi Blakeslee

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Friday, November 9, 2018


The Fault Lies With

when a woman
is sexually assaulted
she will find a way
to punish herself
atone for


crime for which she’s been told
she is responsible by
society or religious teaching
or the men and women
in her life


this rational
it matters not
one woman will punish herself
by eating and eating and eating
putting physical space
by way of flesh
between her and her
potential attacker
attempting to make herself
so unattractive
that a man “would


even rape her”
which some men will be
more than happy to tell her
starting the conversation with
“Your face is so ugly


body so fat…”
another woman will punish herself
by starving her body
shrinking enough so that
she will go unnoticed
in a world of danger
while at the same time
exercising obsessively
so she might be able to
outrun her attacker or
fight back against her attacker
or at the very least
prove her attacker isn’t
mistakenly seen as
giving her what she wants
either way she subconsciously
hastens her own death
because there is no other penalty
for this crime that is her


-- Rachel Toalson

Thursday, November 8, 2018



I blushed, and buried my face in your chest
in the stolen hours of the morning
when only lovers and bartenders are still awake

I know, I’m disgusting
I said for the last ten years of my life,
and again to you

I am sorry the perversion of this world
has perverted me too

It’s okay if you pretend you don’t like it

-- Samantha Clarke

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Her Name Was Becky

The morning after our dog barked, barked,
barked into the darkness, a row of cars
appears on the side of the road at the half mile
turn. The cars are there all day, windows
glinting in the sunlight, and men in dress
trousers with big cameras prowl around
in the dirt on the edge of the neighbor’s farm.
My parents will not say why, if they even know.
The next day, Mother hands me an article:
A girl from another town, Becky Sayers
is her name, a girl about my age, ten,
found dead in a ditch. Something about a man
and a car outside of a store in Brawley,
something about puppies. Then, “Officers
have not determined whether it was a sexual
assault.” I don’t know what that means,
but perhaps something in those words
can tell me why Mother has given it
to me to read instead of telling me herself.
I hold the yellow square like a puzzle
my eyes can barely make out.

-- Tamara Madison

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


Why I Didn’t Report

he was my boyfriend
we talked about getting married
I chose to date him I chose to date him I chose to date him 

my mom would be so mad—she’d tried to warn me about him
my stepdad might kill him
they’d never trust me again how could they ever trust me again how could I ever trust me again

the church said purity was my nonnegotiable expectation: I must be The Virgin Bride
I signed a True Love Waits card
I kept it in my wallet should I take it out of my wallet it will rot in my wallet

Bible teachers told me what I wore and did and said might cause men to stumble
the implication: I carried the responsibility for my purity and a man’s purity, both
had I made him stumble had I sent the wrong signals was my no not loud enough clear enough definitive enough

I was ashamed
I was used goods
I was afraid so afraid so unspeakably afraid

if I spoke, they would never believe me 
in the game of He Said She Said his voice was much louder than mine 
I saw what they did to women like me I watched what they did to women like me I understood what they did to women like me

so I folded it up
stuffed it in my pocket
and carried the guilt the pain the shame the sorrow the torment the black spot of it for twenty-one years

while he lived free
made his life
and forgot all about that night when we were sixteen that night I carry still that night I learned what it meant to feel unsafe in a world that was not made for me

-- Rachel Toalson

Monday, November 5, 2018


Not talking about the weather​

Her eyes say thank you but her shoulders remain hunched​
as she uses two hands to cradle the cup of coffee I give her.​
She is sitting on a bench watching the breeze chase dust​
against a department store wall. She wears a grey trouser​
suit with scuffed shoes and a beige trenchcoat which is unzipped​
but wrapped around her like a blanket. Her feet are tucked​
under the bench as if she is trying to take up the least amount​
of space possible. There's a trace of dry shampoo in her tousled ​
hair. From a distance, her face looks natural, but close-up ​
the contouring of foundation and layers of bronzer are evident.​
She looks like the sort of woman you'd seen in any office,​
in every office, the one that arrives early, leaves on time,​
rarely takes a sickday and does a competent but unremarkable job.​
She uses two hands to raise her coffee to sip. Says nothing.​
And I sit and wait until she's ready to talk. I don't care how​
she got into the trap she feels herself to be in. I do care​
about how she thinks she might get out. She crosses her legs,​
foot pointing in my direction. Perhaps today she'll talk.​

-- Emma Lee​

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Saturday, November 3, 2018


To The Men Who Don’t Understand

You know we’re talking
about a war zone, right?

Not just imagined reflections,
memories folding up from the earth in our path
like a shooting range,
not just a minefield strewn
with relics of horrors past,
but a burning, muddy, thundering battlefield,
alive and dead with danger.

We are talking
about staring in the face of atrocity,
our pasts and our futures filled
with the same threat as the present.

We are talking
about now.

I don’t know whether to plead with you
or tell you to fuck yourself.
I only know how much we need you
to understand.
Not allies, but fellow soldiers;
comrades in combat.

The grim, gory awakening
that is solidarity.

-- Samantha Clarke

Friday, November 2, 2018



News feeds hemorrhage headlines
Of sexual assault victims’ testimony.
Pompous old white men protect their own,
Circle wagons around the self-entitled offender.
Like the wicked witch, a Republican woman
Tut-tuts over reports of attempted rape,
Drunken high school parties,
Unwanted groping.
“Boys will be boys!” She proclaims.

I wonder if a lifetime of abuse
Has damaged her brain,
Left her confused about power,
humiliation and forced submission,
Rewired her thinking to excuse
And encourage more generations
Of internalized misogynistic oppression.

-- Jennifer Lagier

Thursday, November 1, 2018


Water is a Woman

water is a woman see how she fits
into whatever vessel you devise for her
watch her overflow
watch her evaporate away
you must vacuum seal her
to keep her tight in your jar

watch her grow green and brown
with primordial life, with algae
watch the amoeba bloom of her surface
soon she becomes murky with life
she cannot help but bear fruit
concocting children is her day job
and everything needs her

water is a woman look how she persists
corrosive and tenacious above everything
her carving the Ozark caves deep
across the southwest plateau
her body is a canyon of flood and rush
she pours herself downstream

relentless as hunger
graceful as mercy
she doesn’t take the high road
she takes the path of least resistance

watch her stay low
and curving always with the hips of the land
the cliffs open to her as she angles her way home
always home to the great source
the shared genesis of life
ocean and current and womb

a woman is an ocean look how vast
she persists against the rat tooth of shore
in small swells and carousing squall
thrusting a legion of hurricanes
she cannot be moved, really
by any whim but her own

water is a woman in blue and clear
neither a dark cloud or a silver lining
but something yearning to fall
each drop of her rain
each catapulting globe is a perfect
reflection of the entire world

-- Jeanette Powers