“Releasing the Sadness” by Midge Guerrera

“Releasing the Sadness” by Midge Guerrera One of my nonna’s mulberry trees was a perfect climbing tree. I’d creep higher and higher into its branches surveying the world as I knew it and dream of other worlds far away. Lots of little girls imagine themselves princesses – twirling, whirling, prancing at the ball and bedazzling a prince or three. Well, I tried to visualize that, but after tripping over a hoe, stepping in chicken poop, and chasing a run-away goat, somehow, I figured out that my family wasn’t royalty. Something told me that in order to understand my present I needed to look to my past. Travelling to Pontelandolfo, Italy in 1996, I discovered my dad’s first cousins. Family that no one in New Jersey even knew existed. “L saugu t chiama,” Zia Giuseppina told me in the dialect of Pontelandolfo, “the blood calls.” “L saugu t’altira.” Blood like a magnet is drawn to like blood. My saugu, is strongly attracted to the saugu here. She reminded me, that I was the only one who came back from America to search for and discover those left behind. Over a period of twenty years, I have shared many a long and wonderful Pontelandolfesi2 meal with my new extended Italian family. When the coffee was served, I often steered the conversation to stories about Salvatore, my bisnonno3. The family elders, his grandchildren, vaguely remembered him but vividly remembered their parent’s tales of the invincible Salvatore. In the ancient dialect of the village, Carmine and Giuseppina, regaled me with the legends of Salvatore Guerrera – depending on your point of view he was either Robin Hood or a scoundrel. Even though I was smiling and nodding, I didn’t understand ninety percent of what they said.  They knew I didn’t have a clue what the words meant but was absorbing instead the spirit of Salvatore. They kept right on talking. Talking, gesturing, occasionally crying and loving every second that I sat there listening, saying si4 and taking notes, these alert octogenarians made sure I walked away understanding Salvatore’s strength, tenacity and willingness to leap into the fray for justice. Sounded just like my dad and a wee bit like me. Afterall, Guerrera does mean female warrior. This tale stayed with me. Salvatore, the patriarch of my family, was a contadino5. Don’t think of the agri-businessman of today or even the funky granola local organic farmer. In the Pontelandolfo church and commune6 records my family members are all listed as contadino and/or bracciante7. They were peasant farmers who “gave their arms work” for another person. Serfs or sharecroppers – these men and women worked...

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“Granddaughter of Stonewall” by Ona Marae

“Granddaughter of Stonewall” by Ona Marae Why do I write? I write because of them. I write because of solemn women, in sensible shoes and fedoras, wearing three articles of women’s clothing. I write because of laughing women, who lean across campfire pits, braving growing flames to hand hot dogs to lovers and friends. I write for herstory documented for lives recorded for stories told and retold. I write because now I am in the history books, thankyouverymuch. I write because of the women upon whose shoulders I stand. I walk in puddles of blood shed – not a fancy metaphor but actual sticky, sweet-smelling blood, spilt by those who don’t understand and those who do fear or worse who do hate us and our stories told and lived and retold. I write because of them. I write because they wrote. I write because I am a granddaughter of Stonewall. I write for our daughters to come So that they, that she May stand on my shoulders On a literary card house that Does not topple. But grows stronger, firmer, more robust and richly colored with every passing generation. I write because of them. I write for them.   I was born in 1964, I was discovered by Girl Scout Counselors in 1974 and led into the world I choose to call home. I am a white, poor, disabled,college-educated, former Women’s Advocate from a DV shelter. I’m currently a single lesbian with one published novel recovering from brain surgery. – Ona...

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“Mantle” and Letter by Andrea Mozarowski, Legacy Fellow
Aug30

“Mantle” and Letter by Andrea Mozarowski, Legacy Fellow

“Mantle” by Andrea Mozarowski Father 1 I never breathed your breath of love I never learned breath your exhalations stung with fear, darkness, confined fathers lost forever within prison walls your breath hung with spirit oil paint and gasoline I never breathed your breath of love nuzzling me close for creature warmth – a way to find my way home – drunk, staggering with your love for me – I can only dream that the darkness wasn’t so dark that in this garden –spores from soil you had worked that I took in upon your breath –and fragrant jasmine–that breaks my heart today — and green things that you turned over in the earth -even the compost that you carried to the back -and breathed -and exhaled might breathe in me and hold a hungry clue I search the child for life in darkness and long for home and all my unbreathed love confines me in my longing to belong to breathe your love for me. Father 2 The last time a soldier falls on his knees it may not be on the battlefield. And Septimus is crying, Can’t cry “I have I have committed a crime.”* What if life isn’t what matters most? Ministry of Defence APC Disclosures 5 (Polish) Building 60, RAF Northolt West End road Ruislip, Middlesex Ha6 GNG 23 March 2010 Dear Ms Mozarowski Thank you for your enquiry about the above-named. I confirm we hold your father’s service record. I regret, however, that I cannot immediately give you the information, which you seek. All Ministry of Defence personnel records are held in confidence . . . First glimpse of the British National Archives at Kew– Swans float in square dark pools. Unfurling clouds. I have brought with me, snippets of father’s narrative, solitary inchoate details studied for years, read forward and backward—and reference numbers for documents from Churchhill’s War Office “[T]he archive is a place for reading things that were not written for your eyes,” wrote Ogburn. “This means that there is never quite enough.” Archive Record 4th Polish Infantry Division and general demobilization matters [F/O (Foreign Office) 1063/42] Personal and Confidential 10th May 1946 Dear Ross: The General does seem to have been getting more depressed lately, and impatient for some positive development . . . One wonders what blunder the spectre of Russia backing up the Warsaw Gov’t may not panic us into committing . . .What I fear more than anything may happen is that the disarming and de-equipping will start too soon . . .and we shall have thousands of depressed, bewildered and only half disciplined soldiers making real trouble...

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Homage to Literary Ancestor: Toni Morrison
Aug09

Homage to Literary Ancestor: Toni Morrison

“Tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” – Toni Morrison, American novelist, essayist, and teacher       Dear Creative Woman, Our town was a tiny landlocked one in Louisiana. Devoid of bookstores and gathering writers. As kids –  black, white, a girl whose family had fled Laos as refugees – we all went to the same school. After the afternoon bell rang, though, we scattered to our still-segregated neighborhoods. It was the late ’70s and then the 80s. I was a girl who had fallen in love with written words partly because my own were sewn so tightly within me, and I didn’t know how to let them unravel naturally. Eventually, I had a passionate literature teacher, and the town library. I read classics written mostly by (long-ago dead) white men, the local newspaper, Judy Blume, the World Book of Knowledge encyclopedias, but was woefully ignorant of the existence of black authors, did not even hear of Toni Morrison until I got to college and, lo and behold, there was one class that jumped off the catalogue at me as though I were looking through a magnifying glass: African American Literature. I enrolled – curious, breathless. Morrison’s Song of Solomon blew my brain wide open, what with its language and characters, some named after Biblical figures I’d read about for years in my family’s church. These black characters reminded me of my maternal grandparents, born in 1904 and 1908, and of many of my uncles, born in the late 1920s, 30s, 40s. They looked like my people, sounded like my people, hurt and loved like my people. They were complex human beings. And I had not seen that before in literature. Even so, looking back, I’m sure so much of that book went over my head, but no matter: I was baptized; I was hooked; I was being enlightened. The book considers the notion of flying, inspired by a story passed down by enslaved Africans who claimed to “fly back” to Africa. When I heard her explain this in an interview, I thought: My grandmother used to sing that old song, “I’ll Fly Away,” as she went about housework, or tried to avoid getting stuck in one of the many old arguments looped by my grandfather, whose father had been lynched before he was born. Who was this Milkman who wanted to fly? I wondered, we all wondered as we read Song of Solomon, and where is...

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“The Sacred Wash” by Jerrice J. Baptiste; “On Lisa’s Mantel” by Darlene Taylor; “The Ancestress” by Dianalee Velie
Aug09

“The Sacred Wash” by Jerrice J. Baptiste; “On Lisa’s Mantel” by Darlene Taylor; “The Ancestress” by Dianalee Velie

  “The Sacred Wash” by Jerrice J. Baptiste The women stretch their clothes on the line in the circular sun, tied between two Grenadia trees. It’s noon, and the wash by hand is complete. Sweat drips, their moumous cling to their backs. The waterfall from the mountaintop invites them to swim for a moment, a vibrant song on lips thanks the waterfall for flowing. Each woman gets out of the water with a helping hand from another. Heat of sun dries their moumous quickly on their bodies and their wise faces glow. Homemade Grenadia juice in a jug and water from a blessed well is shared. The two elders with gray hair drink first. They take three sips, the jugs are passed to the right on to the next woman, completing the circle of eight. They gather their sandals, and tie on their blue or white headscarves before they sit woven baskets. The elders lead the way home through the woods of the mountain. Before sundown, they will make the same trip back in the cool shade to gather sun rays hiding in clothes. – Previously published by Yale Review I grew up in a creative community with artists and poets in Haiti. I love writing about simple traditions. “The Sacred Wash” shows us how to be connected as women. – Jerrice J. Baptiste   __________________________________________ Read Cassandra Lane’s full “From Me to You” homage to Toni Morrison here. __________________________________________     I am an advocate for cultural arts and build connections with people using literature as a framework for cultural exchange. My work has appeared in Kinfolks Quarterly and Blackberry: a magazine, Public History Commons, a KY Stories anthology of Southern writing, and the magazine of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Among other things, I currently serve on the board with A Room of Her Own Foundation. – Darlene Taylor   __________________________________________   “The Ancestress” by Dianalee Velie If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song. – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet I I wish I could tell you, from the sepia colored photo at which you stare, my life with your grandfather was happy; that I forgot the color of my skin; that I forgot I was once his slave. I wish I could tell you I raised thirteen children to full adulthood, but I can’t. Your father, the sweetest, and the youngest of my four surviving children, possessed my dense, green eyes, blazing with all the colors of my homeland, a land of a proud people. But,...

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“Be Free” by Barbara Eikner Thompson; “Phoenix of Fire” by Márcia Maria Tannure; “If I Am” by Rebecca Woolston; and “Legacy” by Elizabeth Best
Jul26

“Be Free” by Barbara Eikner Thompson; “Phoenix of Fire” by Márcia Maria Tannure; “If I Am” by Rebecca Woolston; and “Legacy” by Elizabeth Best

  “Be Free” by Barbara Eikner Thompson   We are all creators … so if you dance, dance. If you sing, sing. If you build, build. If you cook, cook. If you carve, carve. If you weave, weave. If you write, write. If you prophesy, prophesy. You are the child of the creative force of the universe, stay in the light and be free. I am a lover of poetry and books.. I am a mother, grandmother, wife and friend. I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and have published two books of poetry. I believe in the Ancestors and know that they are always with us , if we give them time and space. – Barbara Eikner Thompson   “Phoenix of Fire” by Márcia Maria Tannure   I am an artist from Rio de Janeiro. This is how I live my joy and artistic purpose. – Márcia Maria Tannure “If I Am” by Rebecca Woolston 1 This is how I feel: Put your hands together, with fingers interlaced. Turn the palms up. Imagine the child gesture of capturing something small. Some magical creature that you also wanted to share with the people in your life. This is how you deliver memory. Tender child you. Fragile and dreamy. This moment matters. 2 I would like to reach for the charred bone of your right hand. To see where the skin remains pink, fringed in jagged ash. I can see these things now that I remember your voice. I can see these things now that I remember your eyelashes and the roots of your hair. The smooth skin of the scar along your bicep. What memories sit tucked beneath the small mound of flesh. I can say these things now that I carry you inside the bends of my bones. 3 If I pull all the strings of my tendons, I break all the rules of my girl body that I only called a woman body after I turned 25. That’s not right. Maybe I mean break every rule placed on my girl-woman-body. That’s not right. Maybe I want to break every rule. Maybe I want to break body. 4 Push the muscles past what they can lift. Tear down the fibers. They are sore, but they knit themselves together again. They rebuild themselves. A better version of who they used to be. What if I tore down the fibers of myself so that I could knit a better version of myself? What would you keep? What would you have to keep, even if you didn’t want to? 5 Grandma’s DNA shifted when that man—a family friend—touched her. She was four, she...

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“Have your eyes ever been crossed or turned out?” by Barbara Buckman Strasko, “My DNA” by Judy Catterton, and “Glass Half” by Lachlan Brooks

  “Have your eyes ever been crossed or turned out?” by Barbara Buckman Strasko At the eye doctor I hesitate. Each day of my young life I wanted to say what the world looked like to me. And what they said was, Don’t think about that now, don’t see that way, don’t say ─ My great grandmother Rosa Vitoritto Greco remains inside of me   a voice that could not speak when she lived. She was left to mind the grocery store in Lambertville, while her husband drank at the Elks.   Last week my mother told me We did whatever was asked of us and thought this was love.   As a child I wrote “Oh my goodness!” in lipstick on my mother’s jewelry box. I wanted her to see me, my jewels, my goodness in words. My grandmother Maria Concetta Vitoritto tells me To love is to be a slave. We lived between raindrops, afraid to be cast out with no place to go. Daughters and their daughters have tried to swim farther, to move into the sea. But still my eyes learned to turn in, to cross, to be crossed out.   I grew up in the fifties and sixties . The women in my life were strong but had very little power and had little freedom to know who they were. I was determined to get an education and over come their issues. I am and educator and poet. – Barbara Buckman Strasko   “My DNA,” Written after George Ella Lyons by Judy Catterton I’m from the shtetls of Eastern Europe, the charred earth under the hooves of the Cossacks’ horses. I’m from Kiev and Lvov, from bearded old men in prayer shawls and women in long skirts, heads covered with kerchiefs. My DNA travelled on foot, by oxcart, and ship, a ship that shuttled strangers across an ocean, strangers whose names are lost to history. I’m from Brooklyn and the Bronx and the tenement houses on the Lower East Side. I’m from bagels and bialy stocker rolls and the yeasty smell of Challah warm from ovens on Friday night. I’m from bitter herbs and the bones of smoked fish. I’m from the guttural sound of consonants crashing and from harsh right angles of Cyrillic letters. I’m from Grandma Ida’s treadle Singer Sewing Machine and the sweatshops of 7th Avenue where my mother labored to send the eldest brother to college, a place she longed to go. I don’t know how to read from right to left or bless the wine. But the blood of Samuel and Saul, Jacob and Joseph courses through my veins....

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“In the Attic” by Yenigün Batu; “Broken Bough” by Barbara Anne Kearney

“In the Attic” by Yenigün Batu Bitter sweet memories surround your murky facade. And I always will be there, the cat in the attic. My pointed ears are here to listen, the things you won ́t say, but I do understand the beauty And the dimness of your silence pulling me like a b lack hole. Was I always like that? I don ́t know. I ́d love to listen, you know. So you tell me a story, a piece of sycamore you are made of. Sit down, child, you utter. I purr…You are welcome to stroke my soul. When was the last time you spoke –been a while. Undrawn curtains… So you are here to watch and wait for a homecoming, while I will be here With you. I wonder if I am the only one hates homecomings, reminding me of leavings at first. You cannot come back if you haven ́t left. Yet why leaving with a promise? You believe in homecomings hopelessly. Gives you a pointless meaning I suppose. I wonder have you ever doubted or was it merely a pretension for your pride? The pride you have, I admire. Then finally, you give me a piece –a life at outside! Ages ago, there was life in you, blossomed when you recall it. I wonder how it died, I say. Because you listened with no choice. Obedience was something you didn ́t have it in you. Detest, Reject, Love, Listen – there you are. Could have happened to any. Yet, it was me who turned out to be just like you. Every attic is mad in the eyes of them, yet they are the ones who build it. Was it your or mine? Inherited, stereotyped, forced. Yet, you are the one, the tamed lioness who saved me From my shackles of shadows. I hear what you say – no one can help me but myself. And now, I want to go back and say everything that I didn ́t in time. Isn ́t it too late to wander on The dusty cracking floor and come close to your floor-to-ceiling window where you watch others? If I only opened it and pull you out from the attic. As an English major graduate who grew up in Turkey, I was surrounded by men telling women how to live and act, which resulted in changing the way I look at the world, seeing the injustice against women and my own female family members; thus I refuse to be silenced. ________________________________________________________________ “Broken Bough” by Barbara Anne Kearney The maternal family tree—splintered, truncated. A withered specimen. There are no lush branches...

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“indigenous to” by Kenna Pearl; “Ascension” by Rosetta DeBerardinis; “Penance” by Katerina Canyon
Jun28

“indigenous to” by Kenna Pearl; “Ascension” by Rosetta DeBerardinis; “Penance” by Katerina Canyon

“indigenous to” by Kenna Pearl there are no traces of the homeland left in me red dashes track a journey back to origin but there is no pin in the map to mark my destination try to follow the toll of a bell that sings your name a name rich with the stories of your family with the stories of your homeland but even our names are not our own just something borrowed by someone stolen while our true names sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic left to rot alongside dark corpses on the ocean floor when we first arrived we could not even posses ourselves spirits hovering just barely above bodies a stranger held the deed to someone once told me “we’re all indigenous to somewhere, we’ve just forgotten where” and I suppose, there is a place we were once indigenous to uprooted then deposited again alongside cotton and tobacco then liberated but to a space we could never truly inherit our blood is in the rivers our flesh stains the tree bark but they say we are not the founders of this land we long ago mastered the art of making full meals out of table scraps of making our own joy away from the crack of whips resilience is a skill we learned long before we could read or write there are no traces of the homeland left in me none I can spy without first wading through cattails or tracing a mess of open wounds on bare backs the homeland will never be my home so to where, I ask so to what, I ask Am I Indigenous To? I’m a bisexual, biracial woman currently majoring in Theater, Film and Media Studies. My goal in life is to write the representation I wanted to see for myself when I was the only little girl of color in the classroom. – Kenna Pearl   “Ascension” by Rosetta DeBerardinis                                             I am a Black American female visual artist with a studio in the D.C. born in New York City. My oeuvre consists of abstract paintings, urban drawings and wearable art accessories. A Vassar College alumni and holder of a M.S. and J.D who was raised Unitarian. – Rosetta DeBerardinis   “Penance” by Katerina Canyon I am memories wrapped in dark skin absorbed by tissue and bone. The notes I take serve as branded relics of my tribulations. Like a mural painted on quicksand the mind cannot fix recollection. When there is no palette with oils...

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“Girl” by Marilyn Flower

This poem was originally published as “Daughter” in 2017 in Down in the Dirt Magazine, and will soon be republished in the blog “In a Woman’s Voice.” My background and culture is Jewish-American, third generation. I teach “Life and Literature” in an Emeritus program at a community college. My mama’s favorite was her son who died, the boy I was born to replace. She lay in her bedroom and shrieked “God! How could you take my son?” Papa built a schul for his son who died and prayed there every day. He tucked my hair in a skull cap so I could sit with him at schul. I heard the men chant their daily prayer: “Thank you, God, for not making me a woman.” My father enrolled me in public school, not the Jewish school like my boy cousins. For the class picture the very first year, Teacher pinned up my hair with a bow. I took that picture in my hands; I smiled and danced with joy. “I am a girl,” I cried, “and I will be a woman.”...

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“Memory of Evolution” by Kathy Bruce, Excerpted Prologue of “Potentially Human” by Jessica Jay Dee
May11

“Memory of Evolution” by Kathy Bruce, Excerpted Prologue of “Potentially Human” by Jessica Jay Dee

“Memory of Evolution” by Kathy Bruce My work explores mythological female forms within the context of poetry, literature and the natural environment. I am the recipient of numerous awards including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship, Fulbright-Hayes scholar grants to Peru and a Ford Foundation Grant. My work has been exhibited in the US, UK and internationally. – Kathy Bruce Find more of Kathy Bruce’s environmental art here.   [At] the sight of breathtaking magnificence created by human minds and hands … I have no fear nor anxiousness … I have an agreement to fulfill. There is much work to be done.” – Jessica Jay Dee, excerpted from the Prologue of “Potentially Human,” in response to “Where I Am From,” The Q Find more of Jessica Jay Dee’s work...

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“Vernal Equinox” by Nita Hernandez, “I Am” by Saranya Francis
Apr19

“Vernal Equinox” by Nita Hernandez, “I Am” by Saranya Francis

  “I Am” excerpt by Saranya Francis I am a seed … The same one you buried in a hurry to kill the voice you didn’t want anyone to heed to or hear … I am a vessel that fills, empties, overflows … then fills again … Radiant, unbridled, human.   “Vernal Equinox” art by Nita...

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“Inheritance” by Sarah Deckro; “Passage” from Crone Wisdom by Valerie Forde-Galvin; “Alice the Queen of Hearts” by Camille Christian
Apr05

“Inheritance” by Sarah Deckro; “Passage” from Crone Wisdom by Valerie Forde-Galvin; “Alice the Queen of Hearts” by Camille Christian

“Inheritance” by Sarah Deckro   I am a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States and have been raised by a family that observes multiple religions and world views. I am a writer, teacher and photographer with a passion for stories. I work as a preschool teacher in Boston, MA. – Sarah Deckro   “Passage” from Crone Wisdom by Valerie Forde-Galvin raising you from infancy I make the journey with you being carried along to share in your discovery of life seen now through clear bright eyes obeying some genetic imperative to move we take our tentative first steps sometimes falling flat and ultimately gaining ground injuring and healing alert to sounds of human interactions complex words and gestures using all the senses plus that capricious sixth to elicit meaning though our understanding often fails mostly finding life a muddle but nonetheless carrying on until I see you standing quite apart from me and on your own on this proud glorious June day in robes or gown and sunlight and know your passage is complete and because I’ve made this passage with you this day for me is bittersweet. As a mother, teacher and psychotherapist over a span of too many years, I am continually amazed at life as it unfolds. I have found that poetry is an excellent way of articulating this experience of being human. And this is why I write. – Valerie Forde-Galvin   “Alice the Queen of Hearts” by Camille Christian … She shouted, “Thanks!” up the well as if she were talking to her fairy godmother. And there was no one and nothing that responded back to her but the sound of her very own echo shouting back.
Alice took her first step inside Wonderland for the third time in her life. Wrestling the giant beast in midair Alice struggled to take down the monstrous creature. Trying hard not to lose her balance she clasped on to its very large wings attempting to steer it away from innocent bystanders but failing to miserably. Right as the Mad Hatter delicately picked up his morning cup of tea to take his very first sip of it, the giant fire breathing dragon swooshed right above his head and snatched up his hat with its very long sharp teeth exposing his big bald spot, and leaving the Mad Hatter’s tea party completely destroyed. Next, the awful creature rummaged right past the White Rabbit’s house into the beautiful flower garden sitting beside it, disturbing poor Red Rose’s choir practice and their morning tune of All in the Golden Afternoon and making her furious. “Whoops! Sorry.” Alice shouted...

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“Moon Goddess” by Briyana Negrette; “Mother” by Carolyn Gall; “I Am From” by Irma Vazquez; “She” excerpt by Rebekah Blake
Apr05

“Moon Goddess” by Briyana Negrette; “Mother” by Carolyn Gall; “I Am From” by Irma Vazquez; “She” excerpt by Rebekah Blake

“Moon Goddess” by Briyana Negrette I am an American artist with Puerto Rican, Peruvian Mexican and Native heritage. My family is Catholic but I believe myself to be a spiritualist. I explore the realms of identity, religion and the subconscious mind. – Briyana Negrette     “Mother” by Carolyn Gall I’m from Eden, Adam and Eve Do not be deceived I’m from Mesopotamia I’m from Academia The deep forests decay From the ocean and cay When the planet was new And creatures were few. I came to partake of the splendor To become part of life as it grew I’ve been here forever Some call me mother, some Earth I’m a part of you, and you and you.   “I Am From” by Irma Vazquez Pachamama’s pulsing belly. Her womb is warm and spacious, like my home’s jacuzzi bathtub. I splash and kick around mirroring the movements of Lovely and Beautiful’s heart shaped leaves that dance with a soft breeze. My first and every powerful breath, has the vitality of a homecoming cheerleading squad, and reminds me….I am Alive. And that I Am From the mystery of this vast, misunderstood, endless universe, I see. I am a mistress of energy. – Irma Vazquez “She” (A retelling of The Giving Tree) excerpt by Rebekah Blake We must first establish that the Giving Tree, like all trees, is a she, and she loved her boy with all of her trunk, branches, and roots…. She felt the sun on her stump. She felt snow land on her stump and then melt. She felt little feet, big feet, bird feet, and beast feet. But none of them were the man. She heard birds singing. Deer eating grass. Moss grew on top of her. A family of termites found a home in her. A squirrel hid its treasures in a hole at the base of her stump. Things were good and the tree started to remember what happiness felt like. Then she heard a song. She called out, “Who is there?” There was laughter and the feeling of a branch brushing her stump. “Grandmother Tree, we are your granddaughters, we sing to you so that you will not be lonely. We have seen you give everything and now we want you to rest and be happy.” And the tree was happy. She listened to her granddaughters’ songs and their daughters’ as well.   I am a Black American mother. I believe in the connections I have to the many women that came before me and that gets me through many long days. – Rebekah Blake    ...

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“Available Light” by Sandy Coomer, “Swan” by Rinat Harel
Mar22

“Available Light” by Sandy Coomer, “Swan” by Rinat Harel

“Available Light”  by Sandy Coomer                                                                                             I’ve come to the lake to take pictures, capture first light lifting off water, an image that is more than the muted colors of a somber morning, a world worn dull with sorrow.   It’s hard to find a reason to smile when all around me the edges of the good I believed in sink beneath a hard reality. I can’t argue that the world isn’t sometimes terrible. If you listen to its language, you stall beneath its weight.   But watch the lake. It wants nothing more than to stroke the shore, curl kind arms around the sun-shifted bank. The things I want are simple too – a fingerprint on the window of understanding, a thread of faith.   It’s not memory’s work to hold me crouched against the brick walls of my suffering, nor is it the will of my past to latch the gate and leave my dreams starving in the shadows of a narrow field.   The sun rises every morning – the sun stands to speak at the lectern, sweating and brimming with light. So what if my heart is broken. That’s part of a heart’s job – to break   a thousand times over the darkness of this world and still peer through the smallest window at dawn, ready to leap across the empty lawn and gather whatever light lies waiting, like manna, to fuel a single day’s breath.   I take what I can – a spectrum of color as photons dance in shimmering waves, the light brilliant and endless.     Originally Published: Oyster River Pages, August 2017 Also, the title poem for Sandy Coomer’s full length poetry collection, Available Light, Iris Press, forthcoming. Sandy Coomer is the founder of The Rockvale Writers’ Colony and gifter of The Rockvale “Power of Creativity” Fellowship. Find out more about Rockvale here. _________________________________________________ “Swan” by Rinat Harel   Like the single swan on a dusk-spread river, I strive forward into the unknown, carrying my heritage in my bones, in my...

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Undoing Entropy
Jan25

Undoing Entropy

“To come together…is to remember all that we forget to tell ourselves when we are working alone.” —Camille Endacott, Q partner and graduate student studying organizational communication It takes effort to gather– undoing entropy always does. To come together, though, is to remember all that we forget to tell ourselves when we are working alone. To gather with others is to remember who we are as creative people and to be strengthened for the work that we were afraid to pursue on our own. I have seen what ending isolation can do. I saw it happen after I drove the 12 hours across the desert from Los Angeles to Ghost Ranch in the summer of 2015. And I see it happening now, as AROHO gathers again to equip women for their creative work. In my time as an intern for AROHO in 2013 and again in 2015, I was deeply intrigued by the relationship between creativity and community. As I watched women work together and encourage one another, I was so curious to know just how such organizing could occur, sometimes across vast physical distances, and what these connections offer that isolation does not. Now, as a graduate student in the field of organizational communication, I am honored to revisit the questions that still fascinate me. As a partner of AROHO, I invite you to participate in our on-going exploration of how creative communities can be formed, reformed, and sustained across time and place. I am deeply grateful to hear your responses as we learn how communication – the voice we seek out, the stories we tell, the words we offer each other – can bring women out of isolation in their creative work. Thank you for all that I have learned from and through you and thank you in advance for your participation in this exploration. Eagerly,...

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Our Invitation, Our Circle
Apr14

Our Invitation, Our Circle

At the start of 2017, we extended an invitation to you to join our new AROHO circle by reading and signing Our Purpose, and to enter into a shared dialogue with creative women by entering The Q.   We are heartened that so many of you from around the world have already joined with us in our purpose, and intrigued and touched by the resonant responses of those of you who entered The Q. We are grateful that you are a part of our circle, and as the circle grows to include more women and create ever-widening waves, we will demonstrate together how the heart of our circle is beating. You are women we know already and women we don’t know yet. You live in New Mexico, New York, California, and Ohio. You live in Australia, India, Thailand, Canada, Montenegro, Ireland and the United Kingdom, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Israel, and Kenya. Your bold interaction with our invitation to The Q is a gift we can reciprocate by saying “we read every word of your answers and sat with the truth of them.” As we are committed to listening and building our circle, we’ve stepped away from responding to questions that refer to programs we’re no longer engaged in. Thank you for understanding. We are dreaming bigger and creating thoughtful space and deliberation to do so. Your presence here is everything.  This is what we’ve learned from your engagement with The Q. You are looking for a circle, for more time or better use of the time you have. You want to create an artistic, joyful habit. You want “freedom” to share your creative gifts “before,” and “even though” other obstacles get in the way. What you’ve been through in your life fuels your progress as an artist. In sum, you are women walking to the edge of something, and we are with you. By responding to our invitation you’ve shown us that you are part of our responsive movement of women writers and artists. We are joyous to hear your voices and will continue to listen and gather your responses for reflection in digital Waves. We continue to evolve to respond to your truths and gifts further, but until then we invite you to, again:   Sign your name to Our Purpose to receive your invitation to The Q and bi-monthly digital Waves   If our message, our circle, leads you to think of someone, gift it to them now....

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Making Waves: the first AROHO anthology
Aug06
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A New Year, A New AROHO Unfolding
May01

A New Year, A New AROHO Unfolding

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#womenwrite
Aug06

#womenwrite

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