Mirage / Watermarked – by SHEIKHA A.

 

Mirage

 

the hills are steep, my eyes heavy

chanting of sleep

 

the hull nest of the sea’s urchins

have laid still

 

so calm is the body

on which the moon bathes

the sand on the land gilt of true light

 

the knowledge of nothing,

the manger of fish

 

that didn’t get caught in the nets

by the song of the waves

for there was a rising heat

from the east of the sea

 

curdling under pounding of hooves

the race of shields

 

far where the trees grew winds

out of their eyes

 

mine fell steeper into a lull-less sleep

 


 

 

Watermarked

 

(inspired from Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Fisherman and His Soul’)

 

clasp me in a shroud of opal

and take me

 

to the bottom of your seas

where your castle is a joyous

 

cave of jewels, the wistful moon

shall throw none

 

of its laments over the walls

of your determination

 

to see my soul snared

in the sceptre of your being;

 

this is how it’s going to be:

I shall be entranced and entombed

 

in the melodies you sing, you shall

be the merman with the ruby harp

 

and I shall be the woman with legs

that cannot paddle water

 

but run on shores, giving away

lines of my fate under my feet

 

to an indifferent sand,

then wait for your promised tides

 

before the sun bares our will

to the scrupulous light

 

as the night wraps me in its spell

 

have I fallen

into a dream

 

or fallen

from one –

 ***

Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in over 70 literary venues both online and print, along with several anthologies by different presses, the history of which can be accessed on her blog, sheikha82.wordpress.com. She has edited and co-edited two separate anthologies released by Poets, Artists Unplugged , and has had her poetry recited at two separate reading events in Greece. She edits poetry for eFiction India.
*Photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*
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#feministasfuck: #15, #thisbody, #comfort by Ani King

 

#feministasfuck: #15, #thisbody, #comfort

by Ani King

 

#15

 

Do not go gentle into that fucking boardroom

In your good-girl skirt

And your yes-sir shoes

And your I’m-sorry shirt

 

            as if you’ve done something wrong

            in being right.

 

Ingenuity is not accident

There is no shame in your bright, sharp mind

Let others cut themselves on the edge of your ideas

While they clamor to steal them

hide them in their pockets

 

as if you’ve done something wrong

in being right.

 

 


 

#thisbody

Others might describe her as pale and freckled

I say she is the night sky in reverse

She is a holy map of secret constellations

            I follow them from limb to limb

                        to mouth

 

Others might say that she has red hair

I say she is a woman burning

She is a fire in the dark

            I follow her light to tangled

                        sheets

 

She sees herself as fat and plain

I say she is an abundant feast

My mouth and hands are always full

            My eyes brim and spill her out

                        so that her beauty sloshes everywhere


 

#comfort

 

i say

i have been held down

by

my hair

by

my arms

legs

spirit

i say please

until

tile

until

concrete

dirt

water

cools my flesh

and still

you say

my suffering

is women’s suffering

my suffering

is an open mouth

a red gash

a bloody heart

like most women’s things

you say

***

File Jan 12, 11 06 03 AM

Ani King is a Michigan author, as well as Editor in Chief of Syntax & Salt: Stories. She can also be found at http://thebittenlip.com/?page_id=61

*Cover art courtesy of Toby Penney*

Impersonator – by KATE JONES

Impersonator

 

She dresses carefully – ever so carefully – for the meeting with him.  She wants –needs – for him to see her as the woman he thinks she is.  

She feels, as she dresses, that she is impersonating the woman he wants her to be.  The woman she wants to be.

She thinks that maybe they are both the same person: the same woman.  

But she’s not sure.  She’s not sure because it’s been so long since she was the person she’s impersonating now that she doubts herself.  She doubts whether she was ever actually that woman.

Could she ever really have been that woman she sees in her mind when she closes her eyes, the one who used to walk into rooms and feel comfortable- confident even – with who she was; with how she looked?  

Could she really have dressed in such a way before that men had turned their heads to look her way; that they held her in their thoughts even long after she had left?

She sprays a little mist across her chest now, between her breasts, her décolletage.  She hopes she remembers which musky notes best react with her own individual scent.  She hopes he likes the rose-scented fragrance of her soap.  

She hopes…she just hopes.  That’s all.  For him to like her; for him to not be disappointed.  

She sounded so self-assured, so experienced on her profile.  Yet, still youthful enough to remember how to flirt with him.  How to dress right.  How to stay cool and casual.  

When really, she feels nothing of the sort.

She dreads the moment of walking into the bar and seeing the disappointment register on his face.  The deadening fake smile that says I was expecting someone younger, prettier, smarter.

Sticking the red carnation into the button-hole of her blouse, re-applying red lipstick, she hopes, desperately, that this time she will be the woman he is expecting to meet.

***

KATEJONES

***Kate is a freelance writer based in the UK who writes articles, including regular contributions to online women’s magazine Skirt Collective, as well as publishing life writing and poetry both in print and online.  She has a passion for flash fiction and short stories, and is usually found lurking around coffee shops, writing and listening to other people’s conversations. Jones has also become a regular contributor to Sick Lit Magazine, and is a 2016 nominee for the Pushcart Prize through Sick Lit Magazine.***

She blogs at www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com.

Find Kate on Twitter at:  https://twitter.com/katejonespp

*Photo courtesy of Cori Hackworth*

Let’s Get Real.

Recently I met a group of women who saw my personal Twitter page (@kellycoody) and balked at my self-description. (This was on the Carnival Cruise where I was a bit too martini-happy).

I say that I’m self-deprecating in that tiny little blurb of a paragraph; they completely lost their shit over it. They said if I was such a “feminist,” then why would I ever describe myself as being “self-deprecating?”

First: My humor is self-deprecating. Because I don’t take myself that seriously. If I want to laugh about how I fell on my face on the way to a meeting, the fact that I look like Buddy the Elf on escalators and moving sidewalks, or talk about my translucent eyebrows, then why does this make me a piece of shit feminist? I’m admitting that I’m human and that I can laugh at myself. Feminism doesn’t only come in one shape or size—in fact, it’s damaging for us as women to expect one another to be carbon copies of each other; and it shows me that we have a skewed image of what we think feminism is. The most damaging thing we can do is openly criticize one another and harbor ill-feelings and jealousy for petty, superficial, competitive and altogether ridiculous reasons.

I have to say, Women’s Month at SLM let me down, man!

That does not mean in any way that I didn’t publish some damn good work and that I haven’t received some submissions that are fantastic reads. It’s just that, again, I got a disappointingly low number of submissions. March is Women’s history month! What the fuck gives? I chose March on purpose.

Next year I will feature Black History Month in February. I’m very excited to host that as it will be the first for us here at SLM; I want to celebrate during February. Because by celebrating and acknowledging challenges, struggles, and daily life as a woman, or as a person with darker than white skin, is how we break down barriers. It’s how we try on each other’s shoes for a moment and see what they see.

I have to do a bit of political commentary here. I have to.

Last week, I saw on TV at a Donald Trump (I HATE TO EVEN TYPE HIS NAME) rally, multiple black people being punched by Trump supporters, manhandled as they were taken out of the rally, and leaving with bloodied faces and noses. IT MADE ME SICK. Why are we condoning this disgusting behavior? Why are we celebrating it? To punch a black man in the face while he walks up the stairs just because you are a racist sack of shit is DISGUSTING. I am ashamed that someone like Donald is gaining power, popularity and a devoted following.

I have to get off the topic before I get really, really upset. 

Back at the beginning of February, I got more submissions for April’s theme “Letting Go” than I did for March’s Women’s Month. So, if that tells you anything, which it should, then you would be a bit miffed if you were me too.

I run this magazine because I love it.

I will continue to run this magazine because I love it.

But, understand that I’m only one person over here and I am also taking care of my two children, taking one to cheer-leading practice, making sure the other one pees in the potty and not on the wall, making sure they’re fed and dressed and don’t look homeless, and then making sure that I don’t look homeless too. Ergo, I’ve been much slower to respond to your submissions than I used to be; this doesn’t mean I’ve rejected it, that I’ve not seen it or that I am not getting to it. It’s gotten much busier here at SLM (this is a good thing), but with that comes the opportunity for patience, my friends.

Dr. Jeffrey Toney, who co-authored an op-ed with me that was published in The Hill, Congress Blog, and on HuffPost, has sent me an amazing collection of his 100 word stories, leading me to consider deviating from this month’s theme to publish his work a bit early. The enthusiasm with which he writes, coupled with the fact that in a 100-word story every word counts, these stories are the definition of shattering the mold.

I took a week’s break from publishing during my childrens’ Spring Break because: I needed a break. And I did not have enough content to fill the rest of March’s Women’s Month. Re-read that last sentence. I did not have enough content to fill the rest of the slots in March.

We’re all busy—I know that. But to the writers out there who are afraid they aren’t good enough, who send me sheepish e-mails and then never follow-up, WHY? You write for a reason. All of us have something to say; but if you’re a writer, then you have that passion to put words on paper and make it mean something. So do it. And don’t apologize for it.

I have to thank all of the female writers who did submit to Sick Lit Magazine for this month—you guys nailed it. Mickie, Grace, Kate, Rebecca, Penny, Bibi, Hannah, Prerna, Teresa and Joanne—thank you for showing such a fantastic range of fiction, prose and poetry. Reading your work inspires me to write more, to write with more passion; it inspires me to be better.

Prerna Bakshi is never afraid to put herself COMPLETELY out there; she bares her soul when she writes. She gets harassed almost daily on social media (one fight I got in the middle of; I ended up flustered, going back and forth with some moron, getting all worked up—Prerna had to calm me down), yet she persists. She knows what she has to do and how she has to do it—and she does it with such conviction that it’s inspirational.

It makes me feel so entitled when I whine about not getting enough sleep because I was up with my violently ill child until 3 A.M., before horrendous storms rolled in, knocking out our power for a good chunk of time.

Women, I know you’re out there. I know you’re writing.

Before I created this web site and the concept for Sick Lit Magazine, my writing got so many rejections that they started to make me laugh. I wanted to start a “rejection wall” because it was so comical.

Last week, I toyed with changing the layout of the web site. But then I took a step back and shook my head. Nope. I am keeping it just the way it is. I don’t want to be like anyone else. I want us to be Sick Lit Magazine. I want us to publish and continue to publish challenging pieces that make our readers think in a way they haven’t had to since they read the book Catch-22.

Reading Rebecca Harrison’s short stories is like stepping into her world; it’s truly confounding how she can create this surreal atmosphere in so few words. If you haven’t read any of her work yet, I will implore you to do so.

And know that we continue to stand for equality in all forms, social justice, human rights and that we extend the invitation to submit to us whenever. To everyone. I may just be “one little girl,” but I’m here to stay. And I’m here to kick some ass.

Who’s with me?

 

 

SPRING BREAK!!!

Good afternoon, team, writers and readers of SLM. We’ve worked so hard this year; we’ve all been writing, painting, sketching and playing guitar like there’s no tomorrow. And I couldn’t be prouder to be the platform that gets to show off your work. It is such a treat. And I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know each and every one of you since SLM’s uncertain start back in October of 2015.

Gene Farmer created our new avatar, which I am forever indebted to him for (THANK YOU, Gene!!), Brian Michael Barbeito keeps me supplied with countless beautiful photographs to go with your writing (THANK YOU!) and everyone else does amazing things every single day; things that may go unnoticed. So I try to be the one to capture that.

You may have noticed by the title of this letter that it’s spring break. My kids are both home with me, so yes, IT’S STILL WOMEN’S MONTH, but we will be taking a tiny break from publishing this week and pick back up on Monday, March 21st with some pieces from Kate Jones, to delve us back into the true spirit of feminism.

If this week is not your spring break, then enjoy it whenever you get it; if you get no spring break, I understand. I, too, once worked a thankless job that treated me like Milton (from Office Space), continually taking my red stapler.

Don’t let them take your stapler, I say. Take your red stapler back, Milton. And seize the day.

Cheers! 

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

Woman or Mouse – by PENNY BARRATT

Woman or Mouse

 

She’s always leaving the top off the biscuit tin so we get mice in the kitchen cupboards. I tell her where to put the trap and what to bait it with, crumbs of cereal bar stuck into cheese.  Mostly they come at night but sometimes, when we’re watching TV, you can hear scratching and a snap. You have to keep putting out the bait. There’s never just the one.

Often they don’t die outright. The spring comes down and gets the mouse by the end of its nose instead of the neck and it lies there, black eyes popping, body twitching.  I tell her she needs to take them outside and hit them with a spade when that happens. She doesn’t want to and I say that not doing what I tell her to is just going to cause more suffering.

She asks me to buy a humane trap which catches them alive. Then you can release them far away from the house so they don’t turn round and come straight back in.  When we look in the morning, we find bits of flesh, fur, tail and blood, shards of plastic. The mouse hadn’t read the instructions. Instead of sitting quietly, waiting for us to drop it at the end of the road, it went stir crazy. Gnawing its way out of the box hadn’t worked so it started on its own body instead. I ask her, do you reckon if there had been two of them in there, would one of them have tried to eat the other or would they have calmed each other down?

She started crying and said she wouldn’t clean up the mess. I told her, you’re not a mouse, you can leave at any time.

***

Penny Barratt (1)

***This is the first piece of writing that Penny Barratt has had published that isn’t a feature or a news story. At the start of this year she took a vow to attend fewer creative writing classes, write more, get as many rejections as possible and finish at least one of the three novels she’s started.Three out of four achieved so far, with particular success at number three.***

*Photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito.*

Honeycomb – by BIBI HAMBLIN

Honeycomb

by Bibi Hamblin

 

He will remember it

Through the prism of the honeycomb.


 

Memories eventually gang up against you,

Ask anybody


 

Childhood days filled with love, kisses, happy families

He could swear on his life,

His sister’s kiss on his cheek evidence of what he’d forgotten.


 

Weary from her heavy burden,

The promise, her own fault,

Every single detail

Written down

Kept hidden.


 

It was only him now,

The graveside,

The single red rose,

It was only him now,

Empty house

Sister and brother bound together,

The stain never completely erased,

The pages of the journals standing as judges.


 

Father’s got to go away

His mother said one evening,

She’d been crying,

He said nothing,

When Father became a ghost,

He said nothing,

A silent wave,

A smiley lady,

A room full of toys,

His sister spoiling his fun,

She held out a hand

In the end he took it.


 

A fresh start

Him, his sister, his mother,

All for the best,

New town,

New friends,

New name,

Mother now distant,

Sister now mother.


 

The ghosts hover,

Head in hands

Too full to take the weight,

He glances at the photograph

He and his sister laughing

Decides to remember,

Through the prism of the honeycomb.


***

Head shot sepia small

Bibi Hamblin is a certified workshop leader in the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. A Londoner, she can be found adding and subtracting words to create short stories, flash fiction and her first novel for children. Her work appears in the Blue Harvest Circle anthology, A Winter’s Romance and with Zeroflash and Visual Verse.

 

*Photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*