I wish I hadn’t publicly shared that I was a #MeToo.
I thought it would feel cathartic.
I thought it would help me feel a stronger bond with women who also said #MeToo. Help to bring us out of our personal isolations.
I feared that if my male friends saw that I was a #MeToo, they would get uneasy, and I would need to protect them from hearing bad things. So, did this allow me to feel like I could be honest with men I knew? Gain their support? A shoulder to lean on?
I had the tiniest pipe dream that men would see #MeToo, and it would make them speak up, show some outrage, some sort of appropriate reaction.
I feared that if I came out as #MeToo, I would be met with, not just outright denial, but with aggression and anger, like I was jumping onto the trendy #MeToo bandwagon. Just, you know, for attention. I mean, really, it can’t be THAT many women, can it? And you’ve never talked about any kind of assault before. Why did you wait until now? And really, what IS “assault”? And boys will be boys, good clean fun, so just shut up, already. Did this fear of backlash get alleviated by #MeToo?
Did my whisper of #MeToo serve to show that “I’d rape ya” is not a compliment? That fear of sexual assault makes day-to-day harassment (on the street, in the office, in the elevator, in the club, in the dorm room, in the home, on the bus, in the parking lot, on the cell phone) possible because it shuts us up? Because we don’t want escalation? This obscene comment; those icky leers; being told to smile; being touched, grabbed, squeezed, groped, stroked; having men expose themselves in the park, on our phones; being followed for blocks, stalked, downright chased in broad daylight, all the while putting on our game faces, pretending that nothing is happening, nothing is wrong because we don’t want to make things worse for ourselves? Because we’ve been groomed since childhood to expect being approached but also to be wary of trouble, and well . . . we’re just asking for it, anyway, right? Now: Has my description of what women face everyday make people suddenly SEE that we face a daily gauntlet, a battle zone, just in, say, a short walk to work? My guess is:
So, never mind. Don’t give it a thought. Did a man with a knife sexually assault me under the streetlight that night, trying to force me into his car? Did I experience prolonged hand-to-hand combat, my screams surely heard but ignored? All those apartment windows with screens in for springtime, resting there above us, not one light turned on, as we tussled our way down the street? Was I drenched in blood, after grabbing the knife blade, right before he pressed it through my shirt, so much blood it puddled in my shoes? Did the investigating officer in the ER say that I couldn’t blame the attacker for wanting to “fuck me” because, after all, “we all want that?” Did this event make me fear random men and what they might do or say, at any time? Make me fear cops? Does this flashback visit me, still? Does it level me? Do women have far worse stories than this? No. Never mind. I retract my statement. No more “Me Too” nonsense. It didn’t happen.
Finding no sanctuary in my sleep
Nightmares roaring in my head
Scenes of desolation and devastation
Certainly no bed of roses
In war ravaged countries
The rattling call of injustice
A cauldron of death and despair
No respite or any beds of roses
Amid the poverty and desperation
Where people grieve for their dead
The ever flowing tide of human misery
For the children, no beds of roses.
Anguished eyes gaze, frail hands reach out
Barren lands flooding with tears overflowing
Global silence decapacitating hope
as the night calls, no bed of roses.
While humanity turns away and abandons
Another dawn exudes deaths mephitic odour
How can we fail to speak out, not be silent
Reach out, cultivate fertile beds of roses.
An injury to one is an injury to all
A collective thorn of pain and misery
We can cover our eyes, be indifferent
Or help those in need, offer beds of roses ,
From the heartache, filled with cries
We can send messages to the politicians
The gift of solidarity to those that deserve
And when wars cease, beds of roses will grow.
You do not speak for me.
The sparrow has my voice,
busying between hedgerows,
English as a cloudy day,
more English than you anyway.
That oldman and his dog,
out at dawn beachcombing,
letting the morning tickle
his mouth up at the edges,
his gait carries my weight
as he lightens the day.
The wildflowers on verges,
reaching for something
they can never quite touch,
but stretching all the same,
smudging their glories
all over the mundane.
These Saturday kids,
smiling through braces,
serving ice creams on days
when ‘hot’ doesn’t cut it,
learning that patience is
waiting for sainted grandmas
to choose between
sprinkles or flake.
The policeman, the plumber,
the teacher, roadsweeper,
gleaming proud dads,
the Sunday funrunners
replenishing the sweat
with a pint of English best
after winning their bet.
The lifesaver doctor,
last hour of her shift
who hasn’t slept since
God only knows when;
as kindas kiss it betters
to the latest in a line
of confused oldladies
who all ask the same thing;
‘But where were you born dear?’
and ‘Ooh what a lovely smile,
what lovely skin’,
as she holds their hands,
asks them where it hurts.
This is my England.
Its voice is not scabrous,
its sound is soft.
Its fingers reach down
to pick up the fallen,
brushing them down,
to hold them aloft.
Your tone is shrill,
a study in antipathy.
You are not my England
and you do not speak for me.
You can live free in the community
(as long as we always know where you live).
You must take medication
(which you don’t want because it makes you feel bad)
We will call these drugs ‘treatment’
(which is stretching the truth).
We will respect your opinion
(but over-ride it if we so choose).
You may claim you are well
(but we will decide).
You must remember your appointments
(even though your brain is fuzzy).
If you do not comply, we reserve the right to deprive you of your liberty against your will even though you have agreed to these conditions under duress and may take a different view of your life.
(That’s just how the system works, I’m afraid.)
Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) are a statutory instrument of control in psychiatric practice. Commonly used worldwide, they were introduced in the UK in 2008. They require a person to live at a stated address and to accept such treatments (generally psychotropic drugs) as are deemed necessary.
Artwork is Nobody’s City by Dutch artist Marcel Herms (Netherlands) marcelherms.nl
Henry Bladon is a writer of short fiction and poetry based in Somerset in the UK. He has degrees in psychology and mental health policy and a PhD in literature and creative writing. His work can be seen in Fewer than 500, Pure Slush, Truth Serum Press, Flash Frontier, and O:JA&L, among other places.
Psychometrics of a Refugee
the inkblot of teen secrets.
Doc, it looks like a cave
to stow away
a summer whose red plastic ball
still tumbles heartbeats around.
In the empty space
God resides, and inside
an abstract of my tenement.
I negotiate its staircase.
My hands barely hold those vacant cartons
you want for storing my home.
Doc, playing tarots
with my pet witch?
Last night I counted Four, Three, Two…
to lose sight on
my shadow, pagan, mating with my
other silhouettes at the Stonehenge.
I shall always see a butterfly in a Rorschach Test, and the word ‘Memory’
will feel my nostrils with the ghost fragrance of a zoo.
A Bullet Not For The Bystanders
‘A wrong blood’, they say to the widow.
The bat in the brittle heart of hers battles the harsh
daylight. What is a right blood?
Meanwhile one bullet that missed the bystander’s chest
shadows its own failure, fails to settle down.
Who did it want? In the dark someone
climbs up our stairs. We hear the knocker.
‘He can be an angel or a wrong blood’,
you say. ‘Should we open?’ Silence.
Edited the online magazine ‘Words Surfacing’.
Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press, Ohio), A Place For Your Ghost Animals (Ripple Effect Publishing, Colorado Springs), Understanding The Neighborhood (BRP, Australia), Scratches Within (Barbara Maat, Florida), Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems (BRP, Australia) and Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems (Hawakal Publishers, India) and now Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel (Alien Buddha Press)
Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/
You wanted to meet Pope.L, but he failed to understand the details of playing the market by using proper tools to open doors on Wall Street where traders are bullish about CO2 and global warming since drones fly through toxic air. You should share your wealth with negro men using malware to revolt at Goldman-Sachs® and Nordstrom’s®—where Afrobots are subject to virtual attacks. You’ll figure it out though the poor eat more pork than any other group, and it’s time to ask Norway to cure the obese. You have infinite data on your laptop, but gigabits could offer so much more. You defined black power as a financial game played in Harlem and Grosse Pointe or in homeless shelters selling lottery tickets at reduced cost—proving that spite never evolved in the colored race. Some day you will send post cards to everyone on welfare inviting them to an Ibsen play though “The Doll’s House” lies and tells the truth at the same time. You prefer a peaceful solution to the Korean problem, and the banks want contracts with firms in Seoul to close deals for poets seeking Asian patrons. Simply put, racism is a form of decadence and misogyny a type of nihilism. Households carry trillions of dollars in debt, and philanthropy alone can’t solve their problems though NGOs are federally funded, and the powerless always feel oppressed. You are optimistic about the economy, but corporate greed is out of hand, and you’re obsessed with hedge funds that will make you rich for life.
Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Among other works, she is author of the collection, Poems for Rachel Dolezal (GaussPDF, 2019).
Those who know when old
is new again
are the ‘Bareback Riders’
who speak if
a purple sage
and the future
The immigrant boy calls to me
from behind the fence,
Where is my mother?
I tell him that I don’t know.
Why not? he asks.
A shitty taste rises in my mouth.
Our state assumes the third child
Needs no food or clothes, shelter
Cot or toys. Our state assumes
That what is stretched and threadbare
Will go further when moral fibre
Is applied. Our state assumes
That just before you copulate
You both will take appropriate precautions
And bear in mind that for the poor
Conception should be subjected
To rigorous analysis
Of all the costs and benefits.
Our state assumes that for the poor,
The joy of a new-born child, the third,
Should be tempered by poverty and want.
Our state assumes that all the rest
can procreate carefree and have
as many children as they want.
They are the ruling classes after all.
There’s a green and daisy window
brimming with light. A river where fish
gleam and swim and an old stone bridge
where people stroll in a merry moment of day.
There is a window, Magritte style, devastated
by fragments of rubble and dust. A river swollen
with blooded limbs and a bridge that’s severed
into two parts; an un-merry moment of day.
Finding My Voice
I was silent for awhile
Until I found my voice.
A shrill sound through the night
Echoed in the canyon.
Crickets joined in and the noises got louder.
There are no roses here in the valley.
Food is scarce,
The air is stagnant.
We are waiting for a fresh breeze
To awaken our senses.
My eyes and nostrils burn
From the stench of
The trash burners.
Windows are closed.
Smoke circles over our heads
When we open the door.
I am still trying to breathe.
Into other places.
On a wrinkled face,
Speaking languages with gestures
Miracles are waiting to happen
In the sands of time.
My poems can be found at Spillwords, The Writing Disorder, Literary Librarian, The BeZine, Literary Yard and other places.
of a child abandoned on a hillside
of a man’s tears falling across a rock
of a seabird caught in a trough of oil
of a whale lost amongst the throb of engines
of a mother pleading for the life of her child
It is a sound
drawn from wet, wind-hammered fells
drawn from the curlew’s piping
and the lapwings winter cry
drawn from the farmer robbed of his fields
drawn from the tribes driven into exile
drawn from a saw cutting bone
It is a sound distilled
from the edge of extinction
from war’s obliteration
from the driving out of mercy.
It is sound that grinds against the skin
that lacerates the heart
but is not heard by all and so it must be amplified
a threnody for the loss of hope
played by the last surviving piper.
(with profuse apologies to Lewis Carroll)
’Twas Brexit, and the slithy Gove
did drone and prattle all the while;
All creepy were the Rees-Mogg’s leer
and the Farage’s smile.
Beware the Brexitbus, my friends –
the figures lie, the words deceive:
“A fortune for the NHS”
to tempt you to vote Leave.
Beware the immigration meme,
the poster that incites to hate,
the promise to “take back control”,
the lies exposed – too late.
As Leavers gloat, Remainers weep.
The country can do naught but fall.
Meanwhile, the snarky Maybot seeks
a way to please them all.
“This is my deal,” the Maybot cries,
“Trade, backstop, and passports of blue!
Three times I set it forth to you;
therefore, it must be true.”
Cockwombles all refuse to see
the UK dying at a stroke,
and turn deaf ears as through the land
six million cry: “Revoke!”
“Oh loathsome day!” the red-tops scream
when Leaving Day doth come and go.
“Tusk, Tusk! What will befall us now?”
Response: “We do not know.”
And all the while the Cameron
(creator of this clusterfuck)
writes memoirs in his garden shed.
As if we give a ****.
’Twas Brexit, and the slithy Gove
did drone and prattle all the while;
All creepy were the Rees-Mogg’s leer
and the Farage’s smile.
POETRY: Variations on an Apology
It happened a long time ago. I watched it on television in shades of grey. It started with smashing windows, the glass jagged over black space inside. On some of the windows you could see ‘Jude’ in ugly writing. Men in uniform were marching down the street: young men with short, short haircuts and bland faces looking straight forward. Then you saw the people in the street running to get away. Some of them seemed pleased, but then there were the other ones with stars pinned to their clothes. They looked frightened when the fires started. Old people spoke who had been children then. The children didn’t understand what was happening, but they understood later. An old man opened a box and took out the yellow star he’d kept for seventy years.
It hurts when the prod shocks through your skin
when cages cripple all your limbs
when they whip you to make you stagger
in what they call a dance.
It hurts when they pour poison into you
when they take away your child
when they force food down your throat
so you’ll be good to eat.
It hurts when they crowd you in trucks
when they drive you towards fear
when, shocked but not stunned,
you feel the knife’s first rip.
It hurts when they don’t hear
you telling them it hurts.
The morning after
I explain everything while you’re sleeping;
how I got lost by the river, how the banks were
slippery as eels, how time slipped away, yet
got caught in the weeds at the same time. How
the hooting of owls hypnotized me. How the boat
called me on board; the turbulent water, the throb
of the engine lulled me to sleep.
I was alone, no one touched me, I wasn’t afraid.
When you wake, before I say anything, you assure me
you’d like to tear the lies right out of my throat. I’m
delicately removing splinters, the needle still hot
from the flame. I feel like the rabbit’s foot dangling
from your key chain, the one you shake in my face. Not
lucky; more like severed, more, loss mixed with shame.
On the first day she learned not to wear underwear
or tight jeans: they mark the flesh and waste time.
She learned you can get very high in half an hour
waiting for flesh marks to fade, and during that time
a professional could assume the right to behave
unprofessionally towards a seventeen year old. She
learned three new descriptive phrases: beaver, split
beaver, split wet beaver. She learned to pinch her
nipples erect when the heat of the lamps relaxed them.
She learned she could earn more money in a day than
many people earn in a week. When the photos were
published the caption disclosed the shame of seeing
her suitcase split open at the airport, and her multitude
of sex toys spill into the lap of a security officer.
On my Mind
There is a way of getting answers without
being sure of the question. A prayer, a poem,
a painting. Find the sharpest tool to gouge your way
in. Or the gentlest; oil on water. I harbour the intention
of deceiving you; struggle with twin desires of polishing
your ego or shattering you. You are a shrill kettle demanding
to be noticed. An energetic complaint. In the vivarium of desire,
the tomb of the bewildered, I’m in a suffering kind of place,
the web of the bewildered, the last sizzle of wax
hitting the bottom of the wine bottle. I notice the way
the slatted blind traps light and throws it with mathematical
precision, or intimate groping, against the wall of my trailer.
My mystical timepiece, restrained flamboyance,
a contradiction of light and shadow.
This road has seen and heard it all before; the walking
wounded never commit suicide on a whim. I pull her
out of the water. Stones soften in the rain’s silent jostle.
A hover of pigeons, scattered by an old face and the stride
of a young male, are captured waist-high, threaded to suffering.
I begin with a revelation of breath, balanced on legs of air.
Mountains deny artificial explosives can be put to good use;
we explode naturally at times—all that fat. Ash and steam
create the loudest sound ever heard, while history doffs its hat.
We surmise that if we bubble and expand long enough,
someone out there will hear the report.
She cut off her hair. It wasn’t where her strength lay;
now no one would hold her by it, swing her by it. Plus,
it was better for swimming. On the bus she split
and wove together her ticket, split and wove together
her ticket, and thought about choosing ice gems
from the machine. She didn’t think about the guy
waiting in the deep end, under the diving board. She
was the best swimmer in class, could save herself
by turning pyjama pants into a float. Afterwards she
walked along the jetty to dry her hair, took the bus home.
She is grabbed off the innocent, sunlit street
one ordinary, workaday lunchtime
to be beaten, punched, taken
to a foreign land
Not only punches and kickings
but unspeakable punishment
with cables, doors, things she cannot utter
by human beings wanting
human feelings. The probe and jab
of men’s weaponry, their mauling hands
as she stares at ceilings, walls.
They have no respect. They are weak.
They use other people for control.
She has torturous nightmares.
The world is a locked door.
She cannot find the words
to express her eternal pain
and somewhere, beyond all words
come tears, ancient as rain.
BBC Radio 4 drama, I Am a Slave, week beginning 03.06.2019
BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour, 06.06.2019
A belly-cramp wakes her
Before the guards arrive
and herd them into the yard
for morning roll-call.
She clambers across
the top bunk,
stands up too quickly
and night’s scald of blood
streams down her legs.
Anna’s watching, frowning.
who prattles in her sleep.
Anna, whispering Martha,
child, don’t cry.
She’s kneeling, lifting
a mattress then padding
to Martha’s side
and filling her hands
with strips of cloth.
Torn secretly, she says,
from her underslip.
They’re used and stained
but she washed each rag
as best she could
and kept them safe.
Thought they’d be needed
again; hoped her womb
would obey the tug
of a clouded moon.
In Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration camps, menstruating women had to use any scraps of paper and cloth they could find. Young girls were helped to manage the trauma of this, and a first period, by older women, a vast proportion of whom suffered amenorrhoea.
I hear the charge of the Trump Brigade.
From Trumped up Towers he comes.
Swaying, staggering, seeking the PM’s hand again.
Red carpet rolled out, protesters warned away
because this is the charge of the Trump brigade.
Far off near his homeland a wall is being built,
partitioning Mexico from the United States.
I see this man with his misguided bigotry even hate speech.
Shouted down by the Mayor, Sadiq Khan,
adding fuel to the fire, because this is the charge of the Trump brigade.
Corbyn protests, will the left unite to get rid of this unwholesome tangerine sight?
Trump will tango with Farage and Johnson,
Theresa May is barely in conjunction.
The special relationship sits uncomfortably.
Trump schmoozed Prince Charles out of the way
and Camilla winked knowingly.
Will this draft dodger get his comeuppance?
Tax payers money wasted for securing this curmudgeon.
When he goes the royals will sigh with relief,
Khan and Corbyn will still give him grief.
This loose canon will boom stateside,
because we have not seen the last from the charge of the Trump brigade.
Geraldine Ward is an author and poet from Kent. You can find more of her work at www.geraldineward.wordpress.com
We reject war
is our weapon
We reject inequality
is our dream
We reject illiteracy
is our right
We reject walls
is our goal.
Against the mafia
Daring bright men
who fought against
a strong and cruel
honest rare men
A bloody bomb
No peace no rest
for their souls
to the ground
The truth lay
on their minds
hid it away.
Mariangela Canzi is Italian mother tongue, translator. Her passion is English language and literature. She started writing poems about two years ago. It was a joke, it is now a challenge and a pleasure. She tries to express her feelings and thoughts about life and the world.