Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tinos, August 2012

By Anastasia Vassos

The island holds dust like a bowl,
but not for long. When the wind cracks,
the sand snakes. The priest’s shutters
are open. The rooster blusters
the morning sun.

In the center of the powdery town
a modern-day Sisyphus ascends
to the Virgin Mary’s church on hands
and knees – the bone he has to pick
with God between his teeth.
Dust in his lungs, his coarse face
is flooded blood-hot, a scrim of heat
rising off his back like a mirage.

We walk the sandy roads hand
in hand and observe this sacred contour.
We stop for bread, tomatoes, cheese.
A bottle of water. We bow our heads
having never been hungry.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

All the World's a Stage

By William Shakespeare

JACQUES:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

From from As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Book of Vashti

By Bonnie Lyons

(Esther 1)

Yes, you're Jews
but aren't you also women?
How can you celebrate Esther,
Mordechai's pawn, who only rose
to the occasion when he threatened
her personally. Until then, she was
content to remain Queen and blind
herself to the destruction
of the Jews.

Blind herself.
As you do now.

Read it again
but read it
as women:

We women were celebrating together
in our part of the palace,
when Ahasuerus, after seven days of drinking,
his heart "merry with wine"
ordered me to display myself
for the other men
like a whore.

When I refused,
he wanted to laugh it off
admit he was drunk and foolish,
but the other men, like all drunken men
in a mob, goaded him
to set the manly example.

And he did.
Banishing me and taking my lands,
jewels, and homes like a child
who grabs his playmate's toys.
The official account doesn't record
what happened next: how I lived
with the other cast-off women
in poverty and pride.

Yes, Esther, the fair young virgin,
using her beauty like a whore
conniving as a slave,
ensured the survival of the Jews
something temporary and local -
But even now
she blinds you,
binds you
to your weakness.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Change of Address

By Deborah Paredez

Rate your pain the physical
therapist instructs and I am trying
not to do what they say
women do lowballing the number
trying hard not to try so hard
to be the good patient scattered
assurances lining the aisles like
dead petals and me left
holding nothing but what’s been
emptied out obviously I am over-
thinking it when I settle on someplace
in the middle six or seven
times a week I walk past the street
vendor on Broadway and say
nothing while eyeing the same
pom-topped hat the physical
therapist asking me now
for the name of that Chinese place
where I sometimes go asking
for the patient just before me
a street vendor in need
of a cheap massage as I lay
the plain wreckage of my shoulders
in the shallow hollows
the street vendor’s body has left
on the padded table in the center
of the story I sometimes read
to my girl a cap seller sleeps
under a tree’s shade waking
to find the monkeys in the
branches above have plundered
his wares he waves his hands shakes
his fists until his rage makes him
throw his cap to the ground and the
monkeys mimic him and down
float his caps his fury finally
fulsome enough to restore
what he’s lost you’ve got to find
another way to move the physical
therapist modeling for me the poses
to mimic assuring her I won’t move
what’s left of the heavy boxes later
unpacking the last of them I learn
about the woman who once lived
here Charlotte who twisted the cap and shook
out the pills Charlotte who swallowed
and slipped into sleep in her last act
of volition here in this bedroom where
the westward windows go on longing
for dawn and I am trying to move in
a new way to pull the mess of sloughed
hair from the bathtub drain to move
in the space of another’s suffering
scrub the caked toothpaste
from the sink make a home
in the space where suffering
may meet its end.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Responsibility

By Grace Paley

It is the responsibility of society to let the poet be a poet

It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman

It is the responsibility of the poet to stand on street corners
giving out poems and beautifully written leaflets
also leaflets they can hardly bear to look at
because of the screaming rhetoric

It is the responsibility of the poet to be lazy to hang out and
prophesy

It is the responsibility of the poet not to pay war taxes

It is the responsibility of the poet to go in and out of ivory
towers and two-room apartments on Avenue C
and buckwheat fields and army camps

It is the responsibility of the male poet to be a woman

It is the responsibility of the female poet to be a woman

It is the poet’s responsibility to speak truth to power
as the Quakers say

It is the poet’s responsibility to learn the truth from the
powerless

It is the responsibility of the poet to say many times: there is no
freedom without justice and this means economic
justice and love justice

It is the responsibility of the poet to sing this in all the original
and traditional tunes of singing and telling poems

It is the responsibility of the poet to listen to gossip and pass it
on in the way storytellers decant the story of life

There is no freedom without fear and bravery there is no
freedom unless
earth and air and water continue and children
also continue

It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman to keep an eye on
this world and cry out like Cassandra, but be
listened to this time.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Be Like the Cactus

By Kimii Nagata

Let not harsh tongues, that wag
in vain,
Discourage you. In spite of
pain,
Be like the cactus, which through
rain,
And storm, and thunder,
remain.


Kimii Nagata was a child in a Japanese internment camp in the United States. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

immature little narcissists

By Linda Crate

i never voted for you,
i implored my friends not to
because anyone who
feels women are nasty or to be
grabbed by the pussy
is too emotionally unstable
for office—
i tire of this country's rage against women
of people like you using money
to silence them
when they're assaulted or raped
and then your minions
want to say there's no rape culture
but i guess they've never had to walk down
the street and be catcalled when you're
in your work uniform and i suppose they've never
been looked at like a piece of meat or whistled
at when all they wanted was to be
left alone—
men like you make me sick
because you don't even deserve to be called men.
you're just boys pretending
angry when anyone sees through your paper thin alibis
the blame always belonging to someone else


Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon), and If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications). Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015. The second novel of this series Dragons & Magic was published in October 2015. Her third novel Centaurs & Magic was published November 2016.

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