Trigger warning: suicidal thoughts
You learned early to stand
next to the back door,
prepared to make a quick exit.
So many things could have triggered
that final flight--
the constant haystack
slumping your camel back
was so heavy.
what dingy wonders
this chambered organ,
for the dear widow’s heart gave out
much too soon :
Do as you’re told
Don’t be shy
Make them proud
Best days of
Get a degree
Don’t sleep around
Find a job
Get a house
Keep in touch
But not in a bottle.
Trigger warning: mild profanity and mentions of rape and violence
Most people wonder how I became Queen. How a cocoa coloured woman like me became the
ruler of a patriarchal, chauvinistic, post-colonial society? The truth?
I did it by killing.
One: A Made Woman
Gulf of Zula, Ethiopia
Several wars have raged between the Ethiopians and Arabs, leading to the seizure of the land by
the Arabs and enslavement of the native tribes.
I go to the gods every day.
I was raised that way after all. My whole life has always predetermined. Where I have been, has
never been a surprise and where I'm going is even less so.
Still though there are times I am content. I live a life of comfort and opulence. I can have
everything, well almost, everything I want.
I am a wife, a daughter in-law, friend, and one day, hopefully a mother. What more do I need?
I still go to the temple every day for hours.
when I was young I played
with my plastic pink palace
constructing a monarchy,
and a class system at five,
determining who would have
the pretty bedroom
with the window
who would be a princess
who would cook,
with barefoot plastic feet
in a small fake kitchen
near tiny plastic rats
The female dolls wore dresses
that snapped off their bodies
revealing clothes less
pretty and poofy,
I married them off
to possessive plastic men
who fought wars
for the king
I had a playset
with a carriage and
the driver came
holding a plastic whip
When I was a child,
I used to sing to the sky,
I never thought anyone was listening,
Or that somewhere up there,
Leaning over too far
To hear, after too many beers,
Until he dropt
Face-first to the floor.
The pages they write
Will never tell of how I
Wiped cuts and scrapes
From your mass of shapes
Because it’s not a form
as a little girl,
i went to lick the
sugar drip of every
born from satin
swirls & 7-eleven cigs
the scent of
strangers – lure &
mist, fills me
through a filter.
the ladies in the
band; i wore guitar
& sang bob dylan
for a week.
Trigger warning: mentions of blood
Every night I die and I am
I shred pieces of you
The ones you hate about yourself
It’s a painful metamorphosis
Shredding my feathers and fears
Bleeding you out
Droplets of blue
In the morning when
The dawn kisses the sky
And the morning birds hum
I am reborn again
I am whole again
I sing when the storm comes,
Because the fields and streams and wind farms
That fly past the window
Need to dance.
Everything becomes witchcraft
Where there is rain,
And on the other side of
The sky cries for me,
I was more gloomy than ever. As the house got closer to my steps, the warmth slapped on my face, a
slap exactly like the one of the man whose beard is black and white, like our TV and like my shoes
and like me and my black and white life. At the same time that his fingers imprinted my broken pride
mixed with happiness and shame as a five-finger image on my cheek, I was a light year away from
happiness. I absorbed the grief, or no, the grief was absorbing me. What does it matter, whether I
absorb it or it absorbs me, I was the loser and that’s it. Grief followed me all over Mustofiat to Sufi
Abad, as if I had killed its lover, or was in debt to it. It was following me, I could feel it struggling until
suddenly, with its own permission and not mine, grief left my eyes, turned on my cheeks, rolled itself
over my cheeks, lower and lower, so my mouth became salty and life became colorless as death.
Through the capillaries to my heart it spread like a corona deep into my being. Grief made me cough
so much that tears reached my nose and started pouring out my eyes like Niagara Falls. I didn’t want
grief to be spectacular, and for this I raised my head.
With the collision of my eyes and her hair, fear jumped in me again and more stones were thrown at
my feet, which were more tired than ever. With a movement and a sound that I can’t write, I lifted
my nose, my mouth was no longer salty, and I could see better. I looked at her hair, her laugh and
her beautiful and troublesome gown with a pity that I had never felt before. I was sorry for her and
even more so, she reminded me again why, how, where, and from whom I had recived that slap. I
still didn’t know which bridge my laughter, my dress, and my enthusiasm had destroyed, which root
has dried up in which corner of history, in which house had decomposed God’s brain? Was my
freedom the reason for painting schools and library walls with the blood of books and students?
Were girls really the ones who exploded everything in Afghanistan? I really didn’t know what my
loud laughter did wrong that I didn’t know about myself. If I knew what I had done I would have
punished myself. I thought a thought and asked myself why these words are my right and why does
God hate me and think that I am shameless or his enemy? Was what those pious men (the Taliban)
say was correct? After all, I was laughing with God! I really wanted God to believe it. I painted my lips
like the pomegranates of our village garden, because the tall mirror in our house said I was prettier
that way and I always wanted and I didn’t want to be prettier!
have you ever seen a butterfly
go on a rampage?
it’s a sight for sore eyes
or a sorry sight for sympathetic eyes
her picturesque wings fluttering
rapidly in the wind
her delicate body swaying
trashing to escape
and the giant roams
with his butterfly catchers
swatting, seizing, snatching
prying, abducting, invading
but if only the butterfly just submitted
accepted her inferiority
trusted the cycle of life
relished in how she was wanted
They tell me to be at peace.
They don’t notice that I am in pieces.
Regardless of the blood that drips from my lips.
Regardless of the bruises that shackle my wrists.
They wrestle control from bloodied fingers,
and crack my knees against the floor.
They wish to strip me of my strength,
and trap me in my voice.
They wish for me to cease,
gagging me with dirtied money.
They think it will stop me,
stuffed mouth unable to speak.
Is my womb crying out in pain because a month has gone by
with another egg unfertilized or is it echoing
the maenad lament across the country,
grief-stricken, hair matted, bloodied
from a war waged and lost.
Part I (Yours)
Each time you lead me to the box,
I get in:
Willingly, even gratefully.
I close my eyes and hear the locks click.
The room begins to spin.
But you just shrug,
And drop your hacksaw to the floor,
Then walk offstage--
Your arm around the latest bunny
Pulled from your hat--
As I beg you:
Either let me out,
Or pick up that saw and finish the job.
And you watch her, keenly
Going from one to another
Seeking for advice on how to navigate the cold and unwelcoming waters ahead of her
Others had gone and found their different ways to the other side
Through these same waters
But she was still dithering
Unsure and unwilling to take the dive
Watching others before and behind her, go on, before her
Through the cold, unwelcoming waters
Being the age you were when we met,
brings me to the door of reflection.
A door that’s been locked for some time now.
to a dark room with cobwebs covering
your security and masculinity.
Tinted windows and empty walls.
I remember the shiny items you used
to lure me in here.
Now I understand why you pursued me,
reaching for any light to steal.
for thirty years,
i’ve noticed a ritual
around the fine
silk nightgowns i fold
with precision and the
sullied, red fevers of
three times a year now,
i let myself slip from
the sick air of
and fall silent
– a lost pilgrim
swallowed by night,
choking on lilacs
Trigger Warning: death and blood
Stephanie sat cross-legged in the standing shower aboard the VIKENGRASS. The water
sprinkled over her body as she kept her eyes closed, trying to meditate and alleviate the pain that
came on this day every year. It was the anniversary of the accident that took the lives of both of
her parents, having her leg and finger amputated, along with permanently deafening her. All
because their self-driving car stopped working and drifted into oncoming traffic.
She opened her eyes to be met with darkness, alarming her. The lights came back on in a
moment, and the room shook. Stephanie quickly stood up and turned off the water, jumping out
of the shower and drying herself off. She grabbed her clothes and slipped them on, returning to
her living quarters as soon as she could.
The VIKENGRASS shuttered and groaned as explosions rocked the inner hull. The lights
in the hallway dimmed, flickering subsequently with the detonations. The crew scrambled from
their living quarters as sirens blared overhead, red lights flashing along the tops of the black
walls. It was against protocol to be woken this way, as a member aboard the bridge was
designated to wake them, preparing the entire crew to deal with the emergency.
Do you think you could save me
from the darkness and decline?
Bring me back to what I was,
beaming like sunshine?
Shall you be the white knight
come to save the cursed girl
with lips kissed with strawberries
and a crown of golden curls?
What disappointment will you find,
when no such creature exists?
When you are robbed of the glory
of a true loves kiss.