Sexism Doesn’t Exist/Unburying/”That’s so like a girl!” – by PRERNA BAKSHI

Sexism doesn’t exist

(Originally published in The Harpoon Review)


 

Next time someone says

sexism doesn’t exist,


 

ask them to pay close attention to

their inner voice when


 

a woman pilot onboard

makes this announcement:


 

“This is your Captain speaking.”


 

Unburying

 

Unburying those long-held secrets

one shovel at a time

she breathes life into them again


 

“That’s so like a girl!”

(First published in Anti-serious)


 

That I ended up hitting him

so hard

when throwing the ball back,


      I was concerned

        if he was alright.

***

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Prerna Bakshi is a sociolinguist, writer and interpreter of Indian origin, presently based in Macao. She is a Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her work has been published widely, most recently in Red Wedge Magazine, Off the Coast, Sick Lit Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture and Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature, as well as  anthologized in several collections. Her full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, which was recently long-listed for the Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK, is available to order here. Find out more about her athttps://about.me/prernabakshi84

*Photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*

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The Raindrops – by REBECCA HARRISON

The Raindrops

 

By Rebecca Harrison

 

 

Bella translated raindrop patter. She put it into her own words. At night, she slept with a notebook under her covers. Her blankets smelled of torch light. When clouds cracked and spilled, she woke and wrote her words until the skies were clean. On damp days, she scribbled under her school desk. Her notepads frayed. She tore out pages of storm-speak, and stored them in her boots to read under silent blue skies.

 

She didn’t teach the other children. At rainy play times, they gathered in staid games while she pressed her face to clammy windows writing out downpour and drizzle. Her hair stuck to the glass. When teachers glimpsed her pages, her words were shapes they hadn’t known. Her parents closed curtains to shut out the rain. She tipped her money boxes on the garden, covering it with coins, to make the patter louder.

 

She grew up. She smelled of pencils and clouds. She’d noted down everything the rain had said. But her hands still ached to shape more of her own words. She began spying on tree sway and listening to insect crawl. She wrote out everything she saw and heard. Her notebooks filled the rooms. They sounded like stuffed ears. She lived in the gaps. She crawled close to the ceilings. Every night, she reached into the papers, pulled out a page and read the rain-speak until sleep. She climbed onto the roof and wrote smoke swirls and moon glide into her own words. She slept curled between warm chimneys. She stayed forever on the rooftops there, translating the faint blink of distant stars.

***

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***Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. Through the WoMentoring Project, she was chosen by Kirsty Logan as her mentee. Rebecca’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Rose Red Review, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.***

 

 

One Night at Dinner – by JOANNE SPENCER

One Night at Dinner

 

Every single word felt like spit. Slick with deceit which held shape but zero merit.

People, my people, cling to her stories as if she were sister to the messiah. To me, her

words are no different than the heave that arrives when a sour stomach can hold no

more bile.

 

Just look at her, sitting there. Her back stretched taught, pressing against the brown

leather booth, boasting. Disgust falls from collagen lips as her pock marked chin pushes

forward, confessing of dalliances with him while her husband, my brother,

sleeps beneath fresh soil.

 

I resist the urge to escape, flee from the blather. Her animated expression as she speaks

causes my stomach to roll, yet my friends lean in, living vicariously through her saliva.

The why has me on the verge of utter frustration and the scene threatens to strangle my

cortex.

 

Abruptly I pause and inhale.

 

Inventory of myself has me reaching across the table for the bottle of Cabernet. I

sloppily pour reality into an empty glass. Will revealing the why make my annoyance

unjustified?

 

The waiter approaches. With care, he sets a steaming bowl of pasta down in front of me.

A skewed understanding of her begins to unravel my thoughts and I am suddenly struck

with clarity. He is free and her shapeless spit is not worth my mind’s exercise.

 

“Can you please pass the salt?”

***

picture for sick lit

Joanne Spencer, who once had her life saved by a naked man, has had work published in Fresh! Magazine, Woman’s World  and will soon have a poem published in Mother’s Always Write. She is a published author of one novel, The Letter Keeper, and is currently working as a contributing journalist for her local publication, The Creekline,  as well as writing reviews for The Review Review. She resides in Northwest Florida where she pretends to cook, clean and do laundry all while secretly writing on a notepad she keeps in her back pocket or her bra, depending on her outfit that day.

 

 

 

Dinner With a Side of Everlasting Happiness – by GRACE BLACK

Dinner with a Side of Everlasting Happiness

 

Sticking my hand down the garbage disposal is something I almost never do. In fact, I never do. Maybe, it’s the visions of sheer horror that play out in my mind. Bloody nubs emerging from the black hole just to retrieve a wedding ring. Is it worth it? I ask myself.

 

The item of promise lies in the belly of the disposal, a trinket. And I stare. A wet noodle from last night’s uncleaned pasta plate clings to my ring finger instead, and I almost laugh. Leftover congealed weight to signify a union.

 

Yes, I realize there is a switch, and that if the switch is off then logically bloodied nubs could only be the result of a B-rate horror flick in action, or an overactive imagination. Basically, the probability is extremely low that this could happen. Therefore, it’s not logical. But nothing’s logical anymore. Up is down, and down is left of lost.

 

You were on top of me just last week pressing, rutting around like, “Tell me where you want it, baby.” I pretended to not hear you just like you pretend not to see the dishes that pile up—day after day. You came in record time and decided I’d like to be showered with your seed on my thigh. You never were very creative.

 

We didn’t kiss. Or exchange loving glances or any other words. I didn’t have an orgasm nor did I have the energy to fake it. You fell asleep in less than two minutes, and I watched you. Honestly watched. Studied you. The slope of your jaw, the concave orbital eye area and how it seemed more sunken now, like supple plums close to rotting. Your trinket firmly in place, a yellow-gold symbol of our everlasting happiness.

 

I stare at the noodle that has chosen my finger without accompanying vows, turn on the faucet, and flip the switch for the disposal. There is a resonance to the metal as it’s forced against the stationary grinding ring at the bottom of the black hole. Church bells pealed twenty-five years ago; now, it’s tintinnabulation as I peel the carrots for our dinner.

***

Grace 2

Grace Black is just another writer wearing down lead and running out of ink, one line at a time. Coffee refuels her when sleep has not been kind. She writes poetry and flash fiction and prefers them both like her coffee—dark. She is an editor at Flash Fiction Magazine, and has been published in various journals and anthologies online and in print. Find her on Twitter @blackinkpinkdsk

March is Women’s Month: Will you be apart of it?

Women’s Month, Women’s Writing Month, Women’s Week, what gives?

We deserve more than a month; we deserve years of appreciation and accolades for all the shit we have to put up with.

Let’s switch gears. 

Isn’t it amazing what you can do when you decide to fly instead of walk?

I say decide because it ultimately is a decision. Right, we can’t actually sprout wings and fly. Imagine if I’d stayed at my old job, as a banker, working 40 hours a week busting my ass only to bring home 300 dollars every two weeks of disposable income. After paying for daycare, the mortgage, meals out, gas, etc, etc, etc, that’s really all I brought to the table.

When I first ventured outside my comfort zone, putting myself out there as a writer, so many people liked my Facebook page merely based on my profile picture. (It was of my face. So shut up before you even say it.) How stupid and ridiculous is that? Not that stupid. Not that ridiculous. And, to my surprise, not that uncommon. When I first started Sick Lit Magazine, I was still just as shocked at how many people visited the page only to click on my “Gravatar” and then leave without reading any of the stellar work we’ve published.

What??

So, can women do serious journalism?

Yes. When we step out of the superimposed box. When we stop thinking of gender in terms of an indictment or definition of self. When we begin to work for ourselves and say what we really think.

We don’t exist just to serve as a face, body or walking caricature of what society thinks we are; nor do we simply exist to serve as baby vehicles and happy housewives, scrubbing that darn pan and selling Mary Kay!!

If you sell Mary Kay and are offended, you’ve missed my intent. When you begin a side project like Mary Kay, Avon, Eyelash Product (insert whatever here) Du Jour, Tupperware or colorful, microwave-safe, BPA-free dishes, you’re still working for the man, my love! You’re still getting a fraction of what you deserve! And look at what the hell you’re selling: cosmetics and kitchenware. All we do is put on makeup and cook and clean, right? (Oh and bleed. And have babies. And apparently, according to every stupid-ass movie I’ve seen, binge-eat ice cream when we break up with someone?!!! WTF? I used to cut my hair every time I had a break up. Fuck ice cream.)

I see so many women who think they’re only worth what’s on their surface;  they become a machination of what corporate America and misogynists alike think they’re worth. Because they can’t see beyond that superimposed box that surrounds them. If that’s all you focus on in life, solely your appearance, at the end of the day when you lie down with yourself at night, you feel that hole in your heart.

Since I happen to have a gender-ambiguous first name, I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of e-mails objectifying and shaming women. (Sorry that you hate your ex; welcome to life, my dear boys. It’s called everyone. Everyone hates an ex or two. Or three. Get over it and move on.)

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I’m in a Starbucks with my husband and kids on a shitty, humid, cloudy Sunday (also known as Valentine’s Day).

I started Sick Lit Magazine just a short five months ago–with no clue as to the direction we would end up going; I just woke up one day and I knew what I had to do. I knew what I wanted to do. And I knew that I wanted to go the opposite of the places I’d been. So, if snotty literary agents turned right, I was going left. If uppity editors owned the building, I was going to do doughnuts in their parking lot.

Inspiration isn’t the kind of thing that you just get–you can’t grab a pre-packaged version at the grocery store on the corner. It, like its close relative happiness, is an intangible. Damn intangibles. So elusive. Plus, when you add the variable relativity to the mix, intangibles can seem impossible.

Intangibles cause so much trouble, don’t they? People go to great lengths in the hopes of reaching one. But, most likely, what’s impeding them from getting there is themselves.

Here’s a hint: Life doesn’t have a guidebook, road map or instructions for a reason. We’re supposed to bump our heads a bit and try again. We’re supposed to learn.

Listen, I fight against my own chronic illnesses and pain daily–I don’t always win. Quite often, I fall down and mess up. I lose my shit and scream and say things I swore I’d never say as a parent, much less an adult. We’re human; each one of us is flawed. Flaws, adversity and loneliness have strengthened each one of us. I may have to remind myself daily to leave the cynicism at home, but it’s still progress. We’re all works in progress, much like our writing, our music and our art.

Please know that I’m one of those people who doesn’t follow her own advice.

I know what it is to pour your soul into a project and have it ripped to shreds in front of you. I know the feeling of getting that hundredth auto-rejection letter from yet another agent. They tell you that your writing is weak. Or diluted. Or whatever. They tell you that you’re not strong enough and neither is your writing. But it is. And you are. Sure, some of the writing may be sloppy, that’s a given. But it doesn’t make you incapable of fixing it and making it better.

Without us, people wouldn’t have art to hang on their walls, books to read or music to blast in their cars or headphones.

I’m more than okay with admitting I’m complicated, complex and flawed. Because at the end of the day, when I lie down to go to sleep at night, I have to be able to live with myself, right?

And I refuse to, as a woman, be taken at face value (“just another blonde”). I’m more than Michael Coody’s wife. I’m more than Nikki’s mom or Jackson’s mom.

I’m Kelly. I have a name. I also had a different last name before I got married. I have depth. I speak multiple languages. I don’t have an easy answer to the conversation starter, “So, where are you from?” That’s okay. It’s what makes me who I am.

I read a quote recently that said, “The person who broke you cannot be the one to fix you.” I hate this quote. No one can break me. No one. Ever. They can try; they can hurt me; but I will persist. I will exist. I will live. They may hate to see my name, my face, but that speaks volumes about them, not me. No one has the ability to break you, either. Take the reigns of your own life back and stop feeling like a slave to the system. Write. Paint. Love. Enjoy. Live your life the way you want to; not the way society tells you to live.

I’ve been through a lot in my 32 years on this planet and I know that I have much more in store for me. Hell, my kids are only 7 and 3 – they haven’t even hit double digits yet.

If you saw me walking down the street in my skinny jeans and Adidas trainers, you’d probably mistake me for some hipster kid (or maybe just a hipster wannabe. I’m not that cool.)

It just further proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to host Women’s Month/Women’s Writing Month. You ladies inspire me daily–you’re a wealth of unique, spirited talent; and proof that the pen is, in fact, mightier than the sword.

Please enjoy some spectacular writing and art this March. I’m keeping submissions open–continue to send in ideas, questions, writing, art, etc, for Women’s Writing Month and all the other remaining themes.

Oh, hell, let me just post the theme schedule again below:

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I’m one of those rare nerds who actually enjoys editing; and I’ve loved reading (almost) every single piece I’ve received for 2016 thus far. You guys are inspirational. So as much as it might be intangible, it is also contagious. An editor who loves her job is happy to have a full inbox. An editor who hates her job snarls at it.

Readers, writers, contributors and SLM enthusiasts, continue doing what you’re doing.

Because you’re damn good at it.

*Just to clarify, we’re staying open to unsolicited submissions until further notice–send everything to kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com*

Cheers,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

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*I may wear many hats, but I always wear the same sunglasses.*