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#UsTogether

"...Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change..."

Babara Mikulski

#UsTogether - the poetry of change

Victoria Bennett

Sometimes, something comes along that changes everything. At that moment, we have to stand up and be counted. For me, it was in October 2017, when poet and editor, Deborah Alma, put out a simple statement on her Facebook page, as the social media #MeToo movement gathered momentum. She asked her women friends to add their name to the thread if they hadn’t experienced any form of sexual harassment in their lives. Of the 200 women that started to share some of their stories , only 2 or 3 could say that it had never happened to them.

As Deborah stated, 'the surprise was not that there were so few, but that there were any women at all'. Someone suggested she collected these stories. #MeToo - A Women’s Poetry Anthology, was the result.

Edited by Deborah Alma and published by Nadia Kingsley at Fair Acre Press, the #MeToo anthology features over a 100 poems from 80 poets, but far more were submitted and, as the poems began to pour in, it became obvious that no book could ever be big enough for all the stories that were being shared. Here was some way I could help. Wild Women Press would be a safe space for these poems to live and sing with courage.

The poems and stories shared here are some of those many submitted by women from across the globe. They are part of a louder voice that says, no more .

What began as #MeToo quickly became #UsTogether. 


 In collaboration with the creators of the anthology, Wild Women Press have created an online platform for some of the additional submissions sent in response to the #MeToo call for poems. This platform is a place to celebrate the courage of the women who have shared their poems -- voices that join together across counties and countries, in strength and sisterhood. #MeToo #UsTogether #NoMore


Please note that the nature of this subject means that some of the content may be distressing and uses strong language and imagery.

#UsTogether

Sylvie Accardi, Rosemary Appleton, Sarah Askew, Emma Austin-Jones, Alex Bulimore, Louisa Campbell, Linda Crate, Cath Davies, Laura Demelza Bosma, Meri Everitt, Jane Fuller, Kathy Gee, Anna Ghislena, Georgi Gill, Lis Harling-Hoyle, Barney Harper, Ceinwen Haydon, Tracy Henham, Holly Herbert, Gillian Lambert, Claire Leavey, Nina Lewis, Liz Loxley, Anges Marton, Gillian Mellor, Daniela Neira, Rima Nilin, Anita Pati, Jess Richards, Ali Roach, N.W. Roberts, Marina Sandfield, Aparna Sanyal, Elisabeth Sennitt-Clough, Helen Sheppard, Ruthie Starling, Jacqueline Stearn, Tabatha Stirling, Valerie Tyler, Catherine Whittaker, Jessica Whyte, Gayl Wright, Carolyn Yates  

Belfast, Bristol, Castle Douglas, East Anglia, Edinburgh, France, India, Kent, Leicester, Lincolnshire, London, Luxembourg, Manchester, Lancashire, Moffat,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Norfolk, North Wales, North West England, Scotland, Shotton, Shropshire, Stroud, South Rhins, New Zealand, United States, West Midlands, Wiltshire, Worcestershire 




You Too- Sylvie Accardi

  • You Too


    White shirt/Black skirt

    White shirt/Black tie

    Young bird/White rooster

    Doors and people shut.

    But I was taught you know.


    Glances like slugs

    Hands like spiders

    Your lousy chant, trying to hypnotize me.

    But you aint no charmer I aint no snake

    Though venom is mine

    Cause I was taught how to

    Pour the shame on you.


    So I sharpened my swords (honed my words)

    My wildest grammar (my garbage language)

    Broke your pipe Flattened your snake.

    Cause I was taught you know


    Did I blow the job? No No

    Blew the all the doors, the corridors, the hushed offices, the glass ceilings

    Blew the whole building Yeah

    Just to teach you how to

    Smell the shame on you.



    Sylvie Accardi

School Trip- Rosemary Appleton

  • School Trip


    This way, girls!

    Miss Jones waves her umbrella

    on the way to the Tube - it is

    1989, after the British Museum

    your head full of smooth marble,

    David, Dido, the Bloomsbury set


    then in the crush of the carriage

    you feel a nudge, behind

    against your buttocks

    towards a place you have no name for

    (no name you'd say aloud, at least)

    a nudge, again, as though the man

    behind you carries shopping oddly,

    at hip height -


    - you try a half smile

    that silly me half smile

    your mother has

    and half turn 

    Miss Jones making room beside her

    as she catches your eye. 


    Rosemary Appleton
    Rosemary has had her poems published in Mslexia, The Fenland Reed, Spontaneity and #refugeeswelcome (an Eyewear Press anthology).
    She writes in snatched, coffee-fuelled moments in the wilds of East Anglia. 

Experiment - Sarah Askew

  • Experiment


    It should have been so romantic.

    On the grass, by the river, in the moonlight.

    But all my mind would let me feel

    was the cold, and the grit, and the dirt

    grinding into my palms, into my knees.

    That sharp, grating sensation

    that made me rise up out of my body

    again. I watched myself pressed

    against you, like a cheap porn star.


    It wasn’t my body,

    or even my mind, that held me there

    this time. I had to challenge myself to 

    stay a little longer, go a little further, 

    try a little harder, just to see.

    But my eyes were opened so wide

    that I became momentarily blinded

    by the fact that it was me, going

    through these motions with you.


    You meant well. I mean, you only meant to

    show me that it is possible to experience

    the sublime with the ridiculous.

    So why do I feel ridiculed by the subliminal 

    messages of well-meaning friends-turned-lovers? 

    Is it all in my head? Am I guilty 

    of my own undoing? I am, however, 

    flattered that you at least thought of me, 

    as maybe not such a lost cause after all.

    Sarah Askew

Rape is not a variation of normal - Laura Demelza Bosma

  • Rape is not a variation of normal


    Wait, the definition of ‘friend’ has just changed dramatically

    and I am not sure in front of life’s mirror who I can look in the eye


    Don’t they say that whoever sleeps with you creeps inside your DNA

    please no, not you who was not invited, when I felt as numb as the fish sticks

    that you once made me bake (because according to you they were no animals),

    you grabbed your chance


    Wait, the definition of ‘animal’ has just changed drastically

    and I am shocked that I let someone else decide over what’s on my plate


    You said to me ‘I helped you, you are hopeless without me,

    in your chaos, your mess, such a vulnerable state, I know that

    you like me, what do you mean not your type, what are you

    women on about taste?’


    Wait, the taste in my mouth is unbearably bad now you

    thought wrecking a wreck was a cool thing to do

    and building someone up equals fucking them down

    really comforting an unstable girl is the same to you

    as getting her near unconscious for a rough heartless screw?


    Was that night the magnified version

    of the time you got me on your motorbike

    after you talked in to me for hours

    that this was what I liked

    when I fake smiled near crying, thinking the icy wind

    and the fear for my life through the curves

    could possibly really change me

    into your imagined perfect girlfriend


    See, hearts don’t lie and no is not a difficult word to grasp

    here I get to the chapter I found myself back

    your spell got cut through when I found true love


    Wait, here is a wave where women speak up now

    about dark pages of abuse that we rather forget

    you are one of the shadows coming out of that hat

    and we look at them together, sick with aversion

    but also amazed about how hidden taboos

    pop up all around us like ink black mushrooms


    Hear, abuse is not #variationsofnormal

    because it hurts to not have a voice and we rise now,

    here I write for my sons, for who else never knew,

    with hope for the future: #metoo.

    Laura Demelza Bosma

When alcohol abused the moon - Laura Demelza Bozma

  • When alcohol abused the moon


    I am the drunk girl on my own bed

    my boyfriend in the same room

    lives in the delusion of my safety

    and his friendship with you

    playing trip-hop and ninja

    our cat sleeps at my feet


    You simply sit beside me

    to put your fingers inside

    with on a wry sigh the words

    ‘I know you like this’


    That moment I fall off a cliff

    no self-defence, no language

    when I finally cry, you leave


    I tell my boy and we curl up

    like a spoon inside a spoon

    cry some more until a dull sleep

    drifts us to a grim Sunday’s shore


    You say to a common friend

    it was the alcohol

    go tell your wife

    and she will wonder while you

    cut Sunday’s meat, into eternity

    who your fingers actually belong to


    I could say you did it to the moon

    but it was me, your body should not belong

    to what you smoke, drink, feel, see


    To my body, that songbird,

    I sing the gritty melodies that defend

    the ever white sheets of my holy fields


    And even forgive me, forgive him.

    Laura Demelza Bosma
    Laura Demelza Bosma, or Laura-Bee, is a vegan, nature-adoring vegetable-addict, mother of three, doula, writer and artist. By chosing the road less taken Laura started to experience her live as a highly sensitive person more and more like a vibrant journey, out of the boxes she simply loves to create. Website www.laurademelzabosma.com

Doubt- Alex Bullimore

  • Doubt


    What I didn’t see was

    any sleight of hand into a tall, purple glass

    but I felt its fog, its misdemeanour.


    After an hour I was found 

    in the corner of the club, eyes closed,

    and some girls piled me into a cab


    I climbed the concrete stairs 

    to the flat that I shared and fell to all fours

    on the doormat, heard the chain rattle.


    I was in bed

    No

    I was pulled up like a puppet


    warm acid in my throat, 

    sticky face and arms.

    I’m hanging over the bath


    and my friend is there with us —

    she’s holding one hand and 

    my boyfriend the other.


    I hear him say, she’s not done this before,

    I didn’t know who to call

    I feel guilt. This comes too close to another death he’s seen.


    I apologised so many times

    I think it was a spike 

    but I’m not sure


    Alex Bullimore
    Alex Bullimore is from Peterborough, and loves reading, writing and driving. Poetry helps her make sense of what's going on. If she can strike a chord with others; even better.

Killing Him - Louisa Campbell

  • Killing Him

    The only thing that really helped
    was the offer to send some people from Brixton
    to teach him a lesson.
    And I wish I’d said yes

    when I picture him
    bloodied, bruised;
    being asked why —
    stuttering up a lie.
    But he would heal.

    The more I file him in a drawer,
    slam it shut
    and on just one word,
    with it flying open
    he jumps out on a spring,
    hands waggling,
    chuckles in my face,

    I wish I’d said yes.
    Louisa Campbell
    A former mental health nurse, Louisa Campbell's poetry has appeared in a fine array of online and print journals. Her first pamphlet, The Happy Bus, was published in 2017 by Picaroon. 
    Her second, The Ward is due out in 2018 with Paper Swans Press. She lives in Kent. Killing Him was previously published by Clear Poetry.

Release - Ruth Cameron

  • Release


    a song escapes me

    my throat swells with the impossibility of it


                                     *


    I lie down in the long grass

    let the honeyed rays do their work


                                     *


    you were sweet


    I drank and drank 


                            but then  -


                                                    you split me


                                         broke me apart


                                    *


    the ocean salts my tongue

    wind whips needles

    clouds scud across the sun


                                     *


    someone was screaming


                                                          screaming



                               I couldn't get up


                                           off the bathroom floor      



    Ruth Cameron
    I am nearing 60 and finally feeling my power, realising I am strong and valuable and that I have the right to be heard and to speak my truth. And, yes, that means allowing the wild feral me expression.

Pretty Fish - Elisabeth Sennitt-Clough

  • Pretty Fish


    The bad sister is lured by gelatinous scales – 

    she slops the good sister’s carp into a pail,

    but the August sun warms the water, turns it stale.


    The bad sister gathers the withered bits: a pelvic fin,

    a vertebral segment, the delicate inner skin,

    displays them on her vanity: their bones gleam like hatpins.


    The bad sister arranges the scales in three rows, 

     inhales each glittery flake up her nose,        

    dabs her nostrils with an Elizabeth Harkness rose.


    The good sister goes to the aquarist for more fish – 

     first he tells her to take him in her mouth, then laughs at her swish

      his own briny creatures into a silver caviar dish. 

    Elisabeth Sennitt-Clough
    Elisabeth Sennitt Clough is the author of Glass (Best Pamphlet Saboteur Awards 2017) and a full collection, Sightings (Michael Schmidt Award for Best Portfolio). A poem from Sightings was published in the Forward Book of Poetry 2018. Other poems have appeared in The Rialto, Poem, Mslexia, Magma and Stand.

i want to know why - linda.m.crate

  • i want to know why 


    you may think

    no one knows

    or remembers what you did,

    but walls have eyes and ears

    maybe not me or now

    but someone will realize that 

    you are a monster 

    masquerading as a something

    less than a nightmare;


    you forced me to kiss you

    when i wanted to be sweet sixteen

    told you no but it didn't seem to matter

    you then tried to force yourself

    on me

    don't know how i found the strength to

    shove you away but i thank God

    every day that i did

    not everyone is lucky enough to get away—


    i'll never understand why you felt entitled

    to my body as if it were always yours

    instead of mine,

    and i will never quite fathom

    why any man feels that way about anyone

    because we all have our own paths

    our own journies to walk

    i didn't need to see your face then or in college

    when you said you bet i didn't remember you


    as if i could forget the face of the boy

    who tried to take from me 

    my childhood

    forcing memories i had long since repressed

    to come bubbling to the surface

    like some sickening kind of potion a wicked witch

    would brew for those whom she hated,

    and i want to know why you thought

    that was appropriate.

    Linda M. Crate

i remember you - linda.m.crate

  • i remember you 


    i remember it like yesterday

    was so stressed and depressed

    just wanted to go for a walk,


    but you decided that meant 

    taking me to your room for netflix and chill

    strained myself trying to watch a film


    i had no interest in as you tried to make

    your move and i told you no;

    but you still saw the need to force me


    to touch your dick

    and i was so angry i started crying

    you mistook it for sorrow


    asked what was wrong

    then recoiled as i answered as if you

    were any better than the guy that tried to rape me


    as a girl—

    like you were two different species

    yet each of you are monsters


    in your own way

    you don't get to force yourself on someone 

    because they're vulnerable


    or you find them attractive or you need some 

    power trip because your ego

    hasn't been stroked in a while,


    and i doubt you remember me

    but i remember you

    plain as the scars on my body.


    Linda M. Crate
    Linda M. Crate is a writer whose works have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines both online and in print.
    She has five published books of poetry the latest of which is Splintered With Terror (Scars Publications, January 2018). 

Straight Night in Heaven - Cath Davies

  • Straight Night in Heaven


    Techno beats pulse in a kaleidoscope

    of bright lasers, lights,

    and you have grabbed me.

    I barely know you but you have grabbed me.

     

    You hold my shoulders like a book,

    reading my expression as you go in for the kiss.

    And I consent, because

    at twenty years old, I can consent.


    Dark corners hide around us.

    I barely know you but you have grabbed me,

    and as the walls rotate,

    instincts kick in like shapes in the mind. 


    One thing leads to another, until

    you lead me behind a speaker in this club,

    this gay club called Heaven,

    and it happens. Without shame it happens.


    And as my reputation cements,

    the girl I have carried inside from the age of seven,

    who could not consent,

    who was led away to the woods


    and only defended her virginity through 

    a basic inkling of the facts,

    moves to the music, unmolested, intact,

    losing that virginity on straight night in Heaven.


    Cath Davies
    Cath Davies is 43 and lives with her husband in North Wales. She has been writing all her life, and recently completed a degree in creative writing with the University for the Creative Arts. She hopes to go on studying at postgraduate level later this year, while continuing to work in social care, where she has worked for many years. 

Get The Fuck Off - Meri Everitt

  • Get The Fuck Off 


    I know I'm touching on something 

    Reaching out to you with this voice 

    It doesn't mean you suddenly have permission 

    to touch my body whenever you please 


    We're in the same neighborhood 

    it doesn’t mean your always welcome 

    If you entertain one fantasy 

    I can see it clearly 


    I'm just a person 

    searching for herself 

    I thought you’d listen 

    I thought you’d hear 

    Give up this chase, am I doing the same?

    If I sing straight to you it means I feel safe 


    Let’s make this clear 

    Get the fuck off me 

    Let’s make this clear 

    Just don’t touch me 


    If I don't look at you it's because you think I'm special 

    but I'm not I'm just like you 

    Meri Everitt

Go home and cry - Meri Everitt

  • Go home and cry


    You may think you're having fun

    But there's a girl in there who's having none

    Faking everything up to goodbye

    To try to save her sense of pride


    Then she's gonna go home and cry

    Then she's gonna go home and cry


    Meri Everitt
    Meri Everitt is a singer-songwriter, sometimes poet and owner of NoisyGirls recording studio, a safe place for women and girls to record music. She is committed to speaking up about injustice and supporting women and girls to express themselves. www.noisygirls.co.uk

Beautiful People - Jane Fuller

  • Beautiful People

     

    The town is stacked with beauty shops.

     

    Redheads sits next to Hair-rods

    while Dolly Dimples sidles up to Tres Chic.

    Curl up and Dye competes with Revive,

    as Chloe at La Belle looks longingly

    at the customers hurrying across

    the street to Inspirations.

    The Vanity Box might be shut for

    the holidays but Alchemy is open,

    eager to attempt transmutation.

     

    There’s plenty of primping but

    the high street is no catwalk

    and you never see a headshot that

    could grace a glossy cover. Except

     

    behind the counter in Peacocks,

    where a beautiful girl

    who doesn’t need it

    uses make-up to conceal a black eye

    that’s fresh each time you go in.

    The line shuffles forward

    trying to look away,

    trying not to catch anyone’s eye.

     

    A few weeks later,

    after visiting The Style Lounge,

    I pick up a leaflet from

    the women’s refuge next door

    folding it discreetly into my purse

    over an appointment card.

     

    But I never see her again

    and I don’t like to ask.

    Jane Fuller

Girls - Jane Fuller

  • Girls

     

    Me and my friend, Maz have a girls’ night in,

    a fistful of pills, a pitcher of gin.

    When we’re tipsy, more than a little bit high,

    she scrunches up her blonde hair, looks me in the eye.

     

    You think I made myself a victim, I was just a fool.

    Her girly voice falters with a boo boop de doo.

    I say, hey Maz, we do what we do to stay alive

    mental illness, foster care, it’s tough to survive.

     I needed fifty bucks for food, I didn’t give my name.

    Never bared all again, I couldn’t bear the shame.

    That gent made me the centre of his ‘gentleman’s’ magazine.

    It gifted him an empire, I bought one copy - just to see.

    Whatever Maz, you’d not believe where the world is now.

    Teenage sexting, webcams, everyone’s for sale and how.

    Women swallowing the lie that it’s a sign of female power

    taking off your clothes for men every minute, every hour.


    I show her the Kardashians on reality tv, offer her a hug,

    pour out another bevvy.

    We laugh and laugh and laugh until the programme’s over.

    Maz laughs so much she falls right off the sofa.

    Then we cry, we’re not sure why. Need a few more pills to keep us high.

    Need to stop falling for the wrong guy.

     

    Thanks, Maz, for leaving money in your memory

    for psychiatric centres to support girls like me.

    You’ve helped abused women to get strong again.

    To garner real power and cast off all their pain.

    While that sleazebag bought the grave next door so

    he could fantasise that even dead you’d be in bed.


    How he loved to victimise.


    We laugh and sing and drink and dance until the break of

    day then I watch her with a tear as she sashays away.

    Jane Fuller
    I live in the South Rhinns of Galloway where I am a carer for my profoundly disabled son. I took up writing in 2014 and have had poems and fiction published by Scottish Book Trust, Northwords Now, The Linnet’s Wings, Writers Against Prejudice, Hold My Purse Project and a variety of other on-line publications. I am currently working on a collaborative project about Smuggling and a novel, ‘Leftover Glitter’ set in the 1970s.

Unforeseen Consequences - Kathy Gee

  • Unforeseen consequences

     

    The flooded race course is an ice rink,

    frozen by the morning. Mirrors flash the sun

    and seagulls judge their landings badly.

    I am on my way to school with a little friend.

    We meet an old man with a bicycle.

    ‘Fell off and cut my hand’ he says,

    ‘Will you pull out my hanky for me?’

     

    One girl runs. The other feels in his pocket.

    ‘Deeper’ he says. The seagulls shriek.

     

    At going home time,

    I find the police in my sitting room.

    My little friend has told her mother

    and what I’d half-forgotten,

    tucked away as just me being stupid,

    is becoming scary. Blame attaches.

    Next time something nasty happens,

    I keep quiet.

    Kathy Gee
    Kathy Gee’s first collection – Book of Bones – was published by V. Press in May 2016: http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/book-of-bones.html.
    In the same year, she wrote the spoken word elements for a contemporary choral piece - http://suiteforthefallensoldier.com/

#MeToo - Anna Ghislena

  • #MeToo


    “Take a look at that!

    A fine filly!”

    I stood at the front of the boardroom

    Ankles tight together

    Hands clasped in front of my dress

    My first Blue Arrow mission

    Receptionist for the week

    I was eighteen and green

    The boardroom sniggered

    “That’s it. You can go.”

    My colour rose and I left the room

    I’ve never forgotten my embarrassment

    Or the fact I kept it quiet

    His boozy lunch was probably to blame

    But I never temped again


    Anna Ghislena
    Anna’s inspiration comes from life, love and live music culture. Her poems have appeared online with DogEar Magazine, Poetry Space Ltd, and BritMums, She regularly shares her poems on WriteOutLoud
    and recently produced a mini anthology called The Will To Gig. Keep up with Anna on Twitter @BizziGizzi
    #MeToo was previously published online the Milk + Beans wordpress site

Wings - Georgi Gill

  • Wings 


    Not all things with wings are birds: 

    bees, moths, bats, flying fish, 

    angels, fighter jets, Boeing 747s, 

    Pegasus, theatres, stately homes.

    Not all things with wings can fly: 

    chickens soon flurry and sink; 

    stately homes nest in squat, 

    aloof dignity; kept falcons 

    are cheated, swooping only 

    where their jailors allow; 

    sanitary towels, like penguins, 

    can be thrown but cannot 

    maintain independent flight. 

    As the name suggests

    butterflies should fly 

    but, distracted by their own 

    glossy membranes, get netted 

    by keen-eyed men, force spread 

    and pinned under glass, 

    their trajectories set by another,

    like so many birds without wings.

    Georgi Gill

Untitled -Barney Harper

  • If my dad had known,

    he would have broken your neck.

    But I didn’t tell…


    Barney Harper

Broken Trust - Ceinwen Haydon

  • Broken Trust


    I whispered, ‘No’.

    That last glass

    from the third bottle,

    a good vintage

    you insisted I’d enjoy,

    slurred my words.

    Lubricating 

    your thrust,

    as I did. I died

    on the sword.

    Yours. Except

    I wasn’t dead

    and I remember

    enough to kill me.

    Ceinwen Haydon
    Ceinwen lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published on internet sites and in print. 

Weak Agenda - Tracy Henham

  • Weak Agenda


    You say we are the weaker sex

    but it is not us who lust after SEX,

    You tell us we are the weaker gender,

    But you pay no heed to our Agenda.


    If I am weaker the

    How come I can bring

    a man to his knees,

    with a smile,

    with a touch,

    with a kiss?


    A six foot

    built like a brick shit house,

    skipping while holding hands?


    We can make you want to stray,

    make you stay,

    away from work,

    all for one little jerk,

    of the wrist,


    here's the twist...


    one girl,

    with the twirl of her hair,

    can make a man stare,

    and lose his mind,

    make him deaf and blind,

    to the world,

    even if,

    only for a moment.


    No wonder you tell us we are weak,

    when I could bring you down,

    with just a simple kiss on the cheek,

    Be the answer that we seek.


    Tracy Henham

Nature of rape - Tracy Henham

  • Nature of rape



    And so......


    If I offer you my company,


    do not betray me,


    if you have other thoughts,


    Then keep them to yourself!


    You can not imagine!


    Once rejected and lonely,


    It is too easy,


    To sell one's soul,


    Just for company,


    And self punishment.


    Here lies the problem...


    Was it merely self punishment??


    Or was it really rape??


    I simply gave it away


    Without utterance.


    When I asked him to wait,


    Then...


    I believe,


    WAS Rape!


    But in continuance with tradition,


    A man should have sex with his wife,


    On their wedding day,


    Even if she pushes him away,


    Asks to wait til later that day,


    Because of the pain,


    In her groin,


    Soon the operation...


    But...


    More soon,


    The realisation,


    Of what she married.


    She lay still,


    In the dark,


    Tears drying,


    On her cheek,


    Not crying out...


    Trying not,


    To be weak,


    Under the weight...


    Of her new,


    Obligation!!!

    Tracy Henham

When did ‘no’ stop meaning no? -Holly Herbert

  • When did ‘no’ stop meaning no?


    When did no stop meaning no? 

    Was it when you’d made me yours?

    Because if we were in a ‘relationship’

    -if you could even call it that-

    Then you could say ‘yes’ for me, and 

    Dismiss the word ‘no’ spilling out of my mouth.

    Or was it when your feelings became

    More important than mine?

    When you thought you were entitled, you didn’t 

    Hear me telling you I didn’t want to, or

    When you just chose to misunderstand 

    That no still means no here.

    Was it when you described me as

    Playing hard to get, when the game 

    We were playing had rules that you didn’t follow.

    Maybe when you just thought

    They didn’t apply to you, that your

    Status of ‘boyfriend’ meant that you

    Had no boundaries on my body.

    Maybe it was when I stopped bothering

    To try and make you hear it. 

    When I just accepted that this,

    A soiled embrace with someone 

    I thought that I could trust.

    No didn’t mean no to you anymore. 



    Holly Herbert

You Never Asked - Elizabeth Harling-Hoyle

  • You Never Asked


    Hunter sights prey

    Boys will be boys.

    You take control

    And we are your toys.

    Hand touches skin

    Not given; just taken.

    Think I am meat?

    Well, you are mistaken.

    I came to dance

    You came to stare

    And now your hands

    Are everywhere.

    Drink makes you bold;

    You smirk and sway

    You grasp and drool

    And grab and bray.

    You want to whistle

    I just want to walk.

    You want to touch

    I’m too drunk to talk.

    One time I woke up

    With your hand up my skirt

    But that’s what I got

    Being drunk and a flirt.

    You shout, beep your horn

    To voice your attraction

    Invade my own space

    Then police my reaction.

    For I “had it coming”,

    I’m “that kind of girl”.

    Mixed a pill in my drink

    With a clandestine swirl.

    You were my friend

    Until you had a beer.

    Your lewd, ugly voice

    Whispers filth in my ear.

    Inappropriate boss

    When I was sixteen;

    The limp that I had

    And the bruises unseen.

    You were very upfront

    You embody coercion.

    Words spoken aloud

    Every touch and insertion.

    You lurk in the shadows

    You hide in plain sight

    Shout at women by day

    And then stalk them by night.

    You eroded my trust

    Felt so damaged inside

    As no one believed,

    They assume that I lied.

    And I won’t forgive it

    And I’ve made it though

    For I am a person

    Far stronger than you.

    Elizabeth Harling-Hoyle
    Liz Harling-Hoyle is a married middle-aged mum, addiction survivor and BPD warrior who draws strength from writing and sharing her experiences.

Acceptance/Defiance- Emma Austin-Jones

  • Acceptance


    Man shouting,

    ears hurt,

    lip bleeding,

    stupid cow,

    should have known,

    my fault,

    all alone.


  • Defiance


    Man crying,

    no remorse,

    Police guarding,

    bag packing,

    refuge calling,

    safe now,

    all alone.

    Emma Austin Jones

On Forgetting- Gillian Lambert


  • On Forgetting


    Can you chase time? Back into its box to hide there

    til you’re ready for the things it has to tell you,

    the advice it has to give you and the truth:

    that however old you get you’ll have the imprint 

    of his mouth like strawberry stains on skin 

    that’s aged three decades since the first time 

    and the bruises on your arms made by his thumbs

    where he held you down to kiss you more,

    since Yes meant No and Yes became 

    the most foolish thing you’d ever say to anyone.


    If you can unpick the past then nothing that you said

    will ever be remembered, you’ll always have the chance

    to retrieve what you lost- stop it all before it happens

    walk away before you meet him, before he pulls you

    from the party, from the laughing friends 

    you hardly know but recognise as safety.

    Then his mouth will never find yours,

    his hands will never touch you and he’ll never 

    speak one word about it always being this way.

    You’ll stop him pushing you to the ground,

    into the soil that hasn’t seen the rain since May


    and it’s August now with strawberry plants 

    to lie down on, sapping the ground, leaving marks

    like his kisses that will never disappear.

    You’ll never be Barcardi-drunk

    or high on heat. Tapestry will have ended

    and somebody might change the track

    to something that won’t make you cry

    every time you hear it.


    Or you could step into the shower,

    wash away the strawberry stains,

    the smell of him, his fingerprints,

    and watch them slip, with soap scum,

    down the drain.

    Gillian Lambert

Fine Line - Gillian Lambert

  • Fine Line


    Speaking is hard. The trip,

    the leap into darkness, 

    is so daunting that you stop-

    waiting in the stillness,

    dressed in invisibility.


    Silence is best,

    words more demanding, threatening

    to surge from nowhere to spoil

    a lifetime of compromise. 

    You choose silence,

    because it’s better to be quiet –


    although you want to spit back,

    voice the words only the night has heard.

    So, when you falter, when you fall, 

    he lets go of you, and you drop-


    only to look at him from a long way down,  

    your words hanging in the silence between you, 

    his answer to your slip,

    rushing at you, surrounding you,

    tripping you up.

    Gillian Lambert

Reader, I Googled Him - Claire Leavey

  • Reader, I Googled Him 


    He is a Head of Risk. So yes, he
knows to time it so there’s nobody about. 

    He knows to pick the ones who drink 

    so they can’t think. The ones whose 

    uncles came to wet their beds. The ones 

    who have to work at managing their

    heads. Whose child or teenage horror 

    smothered in the dark 

    has left a mark.


    The tough ones? He learnt young

    to leave them be. They’ll fight him 

    on the spot, and a fighter he is not. 

    He likes his power pre-packed: 

    the flush of cheeks, the widened eyes, 

    the muffled cries, the gape of speechless 

    lips. He doesn’t care about their tits or hips

    or if they shed a tear. The thing he loves is fear.


    One more skin of misery won’t show, 

    he knows. Involve HR and every time 

    the moaning party goes. And so 

    below the ground these onion women 

    grow. Watered by the tears of their own cuts. 

    Downtrodden in his stagnant bed, they preen

    above-ground leaves of green 

    to mask their sulphured guts.


    He is the Head of Risk. He’s made 

    a whole career of this. Believe me

    when I say he started young, for I was one: 

    at nursery he honed the secret pinch 

    and when the girls would flinch

    and cry he’d steal a kiss, then grin at miss

    (and miss would see me thump).

    In Wendy houses, shielded by grown 

    women and a stack of wooden bricks, 

    he built his armoury of tricks. 

    “Show us your knickers”, he smirked, the shit,

    that one time when he cornered me at six.


    Risk assessment is his kick. 

    He’s always been a nasty little prick.

    Claire Leavey
    Surprised by motherhood after a career in classic motorcycling and motoring writing, magazine editing, craft writing & corporate communications. Founded and ran The Still Room 1998-2006, now the RetroMetro Co. Organised the International Poetry ReIncarnation at the Roundhouse (2015) to celebrate 50 years since Ginsberg shook the Albert Hall. Director of the boutique production & publishing company Laughing Gnome Ltd. Edited, designed and published The Ogri Compendium (2017). Author: the Candle Maker (2001), The Trailer Manual (1996). Pamphlets: Guess Poet (2016), The Quiet Album (2012). Gift books: How to Take Care of Your Clothes (2012), How to run a Thrifty Kitchen (2012). Currently making an almost-living by impersonating a cartoon motorcyclist on Facebook.

Ripped-Nina Lewis

  • Ripped


    A grapefruit knife is only tiny

    cuts through citric skin with ease

    hand held horror

    silver blinks in the dark.


    Cuts through citric skin with ease

    shadows play tricks on dream-waking eyes

    silver blinks in the dark

    her scream, muffled.


    Shadows play tricks on dream-waking eyes

    his body straddles hers

    her scream, muffled

    trapped between his thighs.


    His body straddles hers

    hand held horror

    trapped between his thighs

    a grapefruit knife is only tiny.


    Nina Lewis
    Nina Lewis is published in anthologies and magazines including Under the Radar and Abridged. Her poems have been used in Art Installations and on Wenlock Poetry Festival trails and BIG Lit. Her debut pamphlet Fragile Houses was published by V. Press 2016. She is the current Worcestershire Poet Laureate. 
    Ripped was previously published in an online anthology 'Degenerates Voices for Peace' published by Weasel Press, 2017

Not the Stuff of Fairy Tales -Liz Loxley 

  • Not the Stuff of Fairy Tales 


    Once upon a time, 

    he peeled me like an apple,

    his vulpine teeth

    raking my skin.

    My ‘No’ counted

    for a hill of beans, not magic 

    enough, it seems.

    The breadcrumb trail

    back to my door 

    was gobbled by vultures.

    I lost my way.

    Happy Never After.

    No! Not never!

    With the one wish granted,

    I cast him as frog;

    sautéed his plump thighs, with garlic,

    savoured them, nibble by nibble,

    with a glass of chianti,

    its blood red droplets 

    like the ooze from a finger.

    Happy ever after. The End.



    Liz Loxley 

Exposed -Agnes Marton

  • Exposed


    Those forests can be walked only naked,

    on the soft, at parts bebarked paws

    of the once-tamed-but-escaped,

    of the fairly-wild-still.


    I shush along the trees you sculpted for me,

    embarrassed by your shiny touch

    on the leaves which unfold

    curved trajectories to the deepest.


    The Dreamiest Alone has never scared me.

    I keep talking to you as if you were 

    still whiskassing me until I purred.


    Watching me, bastard, huh? Don't you ever stop

    feasting your eyes on me? And what's next?

    You make me jump through

    mirrored sunset-flames on lakes

    and when exhausted you stroke me

    while I fall asleep?


    I square up to you, looking straight back

    to your fucking fingers,

    I can bite and hiss until you

    keep out of my sight.

    Pardon my French, I'm supposed to speak like a lady

    but it's gone, I've unalterably changed.


    Vulnerable at core but keep going.

    The more I scream, the more silence I gain.

    The more I swear at you, I become the more sacred.

    I'm your ex-creature. Goddess of Survival.



    Agnes Marton
    Agnes Marton is a Hungarian-born poet, writer, librettist, Reviews Editor of The Ofi Press, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, founding member of Phoneme Media. Recent publications include award-winning 'Estuary: A Confluence of Art and Poetry', her poetry collection ‘Captain Fly’s Bucket List’ and four chapbooks with Moria Books (USA)
    First published in my collection ‘Captain Fly’s Bucket List’ (Professor Arctic Hare Editions, 2016)

Pendulum - Gillian Mellor

  • Pendulum


    There is always friction.

    Every time he swings

    she has to absorb his energy.


    That his heat is transferred

    to her cold body

    is how she knows the future.


    It's not impossible

    that his hot body becomes hotter.

    There are so many collisions


    between them it is improbable

    equilibrium won't be reached.

    His behaviour can never be explained

    Gillian Mellor

Like Adults - Daniela Neira

  • Like Adults


    Let’s talk about this like adults.


    But I don’t feel like an adult - 

    I’m still scared of hands under my bed

    and the white noise in my head


    Listen to me, be gracious.


    And I want to be, but I thought

    maybe you should be too;

    you could have listened

    when I said no - 


    You’re probably right,

    I’m normally wrong,

    I’ve missed the point, got lost along the way 

    in a mist of words 

    I thought were okay - 


    Let’s talk about this like adults.


    Suited, straight-faced and monochrome:

    I meant no when I said it.

    Daniela Neira

The Estate Agent Shows Us Around The New Flat - Gillian Mellor

  • The Estate Agent Shows Us Around The New Flat


    This is The Corner Where the Frying Pan Landed

    This is The Alcove Where The Children Were Silent

    This is The Stairwell Where She Had That Tumble

    This is The Hallway Where the Knockout Took Place
This is The Rug Where She Lay Playing Dead

    This is The Bedroom Where She Always Said No

    This is The Bathroom Where She Whispered She’d Leave Him

    This is The Window Where Everything Fell Through 


    Gillian Mellor

#METOO - Rima Nilin

  • #METOO


    Me too.


    In the classroom

    In the living room

    In the locker room


    Me too


    In the cloakroom

    In the bathroom

    In the common room


    Me too


    In the bedroom

    In the boardroom

    In the courtroom


    Me too


    In the green room

    In the mail room

    In the dining room


    Me too


    In the showroom

    In the ballroom

    In the storeroom


    Me too


    In the staffroom

    In the newsroom

    In the state room


    Me too.


    Rima Nilin

Beach Baby -Anita Pati

  • Beach Baby

     

    At Ainsdale sand dunes I found a peak

    and lay, nose to the sun in marsh grass,

    combing out O-levels, Irish Sea slurring

    which was when he arrived, the fifth Beatle.

     

    “What would you do if you saw me,” he said,

    “sunbathing naked?” He’d played in the Cavern.

    Not Stuart or Pete or anyone fancy but 

    Adrian, mottled and panting.

     

    I curlied my hair, fondled the spike grass.

    “There’s love there that’s sleeping in this guitar,”

    he said, gently weeping before me.

    Pleasureland lashwinked its fairground lights,

     

    salt meadow rush whispered,                                                                                            

    I heard the sea mithering. “Nothing,” I said, 

    flicked sand from my school slip, 

    left him plucking his string.

    Anita Pati
    Beach Baby was first published in Under the Radar magazine

Sleeping Beauty - Jess Richards

  • Sleeping Beauty 


    I hunger for the damp of soil,

    the company of bulbs, roots, shoots

    the smell of rotting leaves

    of apples - fallen, worm tunnelled.


    Soil - you blanket, you coat, 

    you over-loved dressing gown 

    which covers dangerous beauty

    with your dirt - uglify me kindly.


    Prince and princess

    king, queen, stepmother, witch - 

    I was once a girl who loved your tales

    but now, I am trapped in my body’s story.


    Do not wake these lips, 

    there is no kiss for you.


    My body was torn 

    like a spine off a book

    pages shredded into a gale

    by a man who ignored all my refusals.


    So for now, or for years or for always, 

    let me lie with silence -

    and love only stillness, soil and sleep.

    I have a whole piece of sky

    which I've torn from a cloud

    crumpled in the palm of my hand.


    Jess Richards
    Jess Richards is the author of three literary fiction novels which are published by Sceptre in the UK and Commonwealth. Snake Ropes was shortlisted for the prestigious Costa Awards in the first novel category in 2012. Cooking with Bones was published in 2014, and City of Circles was published in 2017. Jess was born in Wales, raised in Scotland, and is currently studying towards a PhD in New Zealand.

Un-label me victim - Ali Roach

  • Un-label me victim


    If you could read the mounted tapestries

    that hang carefully under my skin

    Would you thread and stitch the gaps

    between them if I let you in?


    If you could see the cracks of fragile glass

    now repaired behind my eyes

    Would you get splintered on their edges,

    or bathe in their refracted lights?


    If you could hear the words I whisper

    to a God I don’t believe exists,

    Would you judge me? Get down on your knees,

    kiss me and revel in my sins?

    Ali Roach

‘Not all men’ is still too many - Ali Roach

  • ‘Not all men’ is still too many


    Me too! And you, too? — we’ve all had enough.

    Yes, We too, get you — but best keep it shut.

    And he too, hears you — but it’s always ‘too much’.


    Tears race down a crotch poured from war torn tear ducts

    The fear owns you, then moulds you, until assured — you are tough

    It roughs you and dulls you and dampens your strut

    Won’t even unclothe you. Exposed true: a fully dressed slut

    Then buys you and un-shys you — like you owe him this much

    Man’s buck sways the world’s judge — and feels entitled as such

    Trespassing on just minds, high oh his drug power-lust


    Now — Not all men they cry. Well that’s not the point now, is it?

    We can’t blame an epidemic, yet farm the weeds that built this.

    So, when you say mankind: well, I call bullshit


    I say womankind and the strength it took to build it.

    Ali Roach

The Perfect Family - N. W. Roberts

  • The Perfect Family


    It’s a Tuesday,

    School Day,

    Long, cold November day,

    Tomorrow – parents' day, 

    How do I tell them I’m failing day?


    Deep breath,

    One step,

    Through the door into the warmth, step,

    I pause,

    Why is my aunt stood at the door?

    Why is my mum sat on the floor?

    ‘Give us a minute darling,

    Take the dog out’ Her smile, disarming. 


    We wonder around the small town, 

    Can we go back yet?

    We loop again and end up home,

    Teenage angst, feeling alone,

    I want to know what’s going on,

    Secretly thankful, my secrets hidden,

    I hide in my room, parents forbidden. 


    Mum approaches me, 

    Daddy’s been accused, you see,

    A young girl, said she,

    Had to fight him off in a bar, 

    Then ran to her car,

    Tears falling down her face,

    But she’s lying, just in case,

    You would think your Daddy,

    Would do such a thing,

    To a stranger, your age. 


    Why would she tell such a lie?

    Drag it through the courts, 

    As if it were nothing, by the by,

    The trial – during you’re a level week,

    You must still do well, we can’t think you weak,

    As to betray your family by this silly rumour,

    Oh, you broke down in school and now people know?

    How could you, you must put on a show.


    Happy 18th birthday, have a drink,

    You’ll need one when you stop – and think, 

    In two weeks he’s off to prison, 

    18 months! Over a ‘silly’ decision, 

    Mum, why was he found guilty if he is saying he is innocent?

    Quiet, you know nothing of this incident.

    Uni halls a drunken blur, 

    Mixed with questions I try to ignore, 

    “Why do you still receive hand written post?”

    My father hanging over me like a ghost.


    Years pass by, he is released,

    Try to clear my mind, find peace, 

    Birthdays, Christmases pass in an instant, 

    Try to be the perfect daughter – the memories still persistent,

    She finally leaves him, 

    Gets rid of the wedding ring,

    Marriage in the bin.


    I grow up, I mess up

    I spend my life making up,

    For the time that I spent grieving,

    The loss of my fathers image, 

    We still talk – but its hard to forget the victim blaming,

    The victim shaming, 

    A brave girl who said I’m worth saving. 


    My future is my future,

    My past will stay in the past, 

    A strong ass girl from Anglesey,

    A life filled with contrast.  


    N. W. Roberts
    Nia is a poet and writer based in Manchester. She grew up on Anglesey in North Wales and loves her Welsh roots. She loves reading and relaxing at home with her two pet rats Remy and Émile.

The song of the tiny dragon - Marina Sandfield

  • The song of the tiny dragon


    You wouldn’t know it was in there

    That voice

    That huge roar

     

    She’s been sitting quietly for so long

    The cave was dark

    And shadows moved all around her

    It wasn’t safe to breathe

    So she kept herself small

    And waited

     

    But in her, there’s fire

    And things to say and sing

    The light burns fierce and terrible

    And beautiful

    And when the time is right,

    Everyone will hear her voice.

    Marina Sandfield

What no one tells the Phoenix - Marina Sandfield

  • What no one tells the Phoenix


    The fire comes

    When you least expect it.


    It will eat you alive

    You think you will die

    You might, yet.


    Being forged in the furnace

    Is more painful than you can imagine.

    Long after the flames go out,

    Your bones will be warm to the touch.


    Some of that which melts to ash,

    You’ll miss

    With a grief both fierce and bright.


    Not everyone will love

    The new version of you.

    You’ll lose friends, as well as feathers,

    In the fire.


    But know this - 

    Once you’re lit up

    There’ll be no stopping you

    And you’ll burn

    You’ll burn

    You’ll burn. 

    Marina Sandfield
    I am a survivor, and writing is one of the ways I am coming home to myself. I advocate good therapy, singing, laughter and forgiving yourself. It's the work of a lifetime. 

TV Secrets - Aparna Sanyal 

  • TV Secrets 


    I saw them, last night. 

    Switched on the telly- there they were.

    He made it to the screen after all.

    And his mother did too. 

    She looked down her spectacles, at a classroom 

    of children, contrived to appear less

    knowing than they are, clawing for treats and 

    off- camera approbation.

    And she smiled. Gave out candy and 

    sweet deceits about being a 

    Good Girl. 

    Schooled them gently, beatific smile unwavering, 

    engrossed in getting 

    her character tonally perfect. 

    She schooled a new bride years ago-

    gave home truths and handy tips. 

    -How to stifle tears in a pillow

    and stay away from fried food.

    -How madness is inherent in us all

    and it’s a special fool naïveté that doesn’t know this 

    basic fact. 

    Naiveté that she and her offspring

    cleared, in wide astringent scrub- swathes

    along with the make- up from this

    new bride’s face. 

    For twelve days, they exulted in her ties 

    and exhausted her fears until the doctor

    told her she was ‘a scared rabbit’ 

    and she ran from the wolf 

    finally, away- 

    only to find him, a decade gone by,

    scars unevenly scabbed, mascara clumps at edges of 

    too- bright eyes,

    bride- heart still pulsing naive

    and knowing in turns

    -on her television set again today.

    Aparna Sanyal 
    Aparna holds an MA from Kings College, London, and is a writer, theatre producer, and award- winning designer. She is the winner of the 14th Beullah Rose Poetry Prize by Smartish Pace. She is featured on the masthead of the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review as a Frequent Contributor for 2018. A popular Spoken Word poet, she performs at events across venues in India. Her page poetry has appeared/ is forthcoming in Smartish Pace, Broad River Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Poetry Breakfast, Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, The Visitant, The Same, Leaves of Ink, Brevis, The Paragon Journal, Califragile, Duane’s Poetree, et al. Her first book of poetry is slated for release in early 2018. She lives with her 4-year-old son and husband in Pune, India.
    Find her work on her Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/aparnasanyalwrites/

Porcelain - Helen Sheppard

  • Porcelain


    Waif of a girl with a porcelain face, waits

    for a boy, almost a man with an easy smile.

    He makes her laugh.

    Says she's worth knowing.

    At fourteen and a half, she's ready for love.


    He tells her to fly.

    In a car they ride away from city lit streets.

    She tries a toke, from a spliff.

    He says breathe.

    Hold in your throat, feel mellow, act bold.


    He tells her to smile.

    Gives her a phone, all contacts his own.

    She answers day, night whenever he calls.

    He makes her play.

    Ina line they leave her battered and torn.


    He tells her to die.

    Best left for dead. Her soul in a mess. 

    Months never found. 

    One day, warm breath on her lips.

    Her rape angel grows. 


    Feather down wings pierce, then unfurl.

    She takes flight.

    A sickle of moon catches her throat.

    This grace of a girl screams,

    shatters her porcelain face.


    Helen Sheppard
    Helen has worked as a midwife. Fascinated by birth and those unheard. Published in Hippocrates Prize 2017 and I Am Not A Silent Poet, Blue of Noon. Performed at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Co runs and poet in residence at Satellite of Love spoken word events Bristol. Porcelain was previously published by On-line magazine I Am Not A Silent Poet.

Untouchable - Ruthie Starling

  • Untouchable


    Don’t even say it…

    it’s your word against his.

    Don’t even think it…

    you were wearing red shoes.

    Don’t even say it…

    but you know he did this


    saw his eyes darken

    heard his growling breath

    arm wrenched behind you

    hand hard on your throat

    his punching, snarling gimme

    grunting hogbreath, crusted tongue

    and sourstench shirt


    that don’t don’t darkness of surrender

    left a wankstain on your torn clothing

    tears through your life slashes through your future.

    Don’t say it…for who would believe?

    It’s your stopped mouth

    versus his untouchable

    oil-powered explanations.

    Ruthie Starling

So hard to tell - Ruthie Starling

  • So hard to tell


    Oh no, not him.

    He’s so pleasant, had a lovely wife.

    Not him, he’s far too old.

    He may be losing it a bit,

    make allowances.


    He wouldn’t mean to push his hand hard up between your legs

    as he came upstairs behind you panting.

    He’s a bit cheeky sometimes,

    can’t you take a joke?


    No not him. Playful, perhaps.

    Lurking outside the Ladies


    maybe that’s just what he did for his wife.

    Oh no. Not him.

    He’s just, friendly.


    It must be you imagined his claw on your breast

    as he reached for the lift-button.

    So you sat on his groping hand

    accidentally?


    When he waits breathing hard

    crouched in the dark shadow

    alongside your car

    he only wants to make sure you are safe.


    When he follows you

    night and day dog-close snuffling

    treat him like a pet.

    Everyone else does.


    Just ignore it.

    We all do.


    It must be you.

    Ruthie Starling
    Ruthie Starling is a Shropshire-based writer and artist. She writes of nature, family life and mental health issues, with understanding gathered from her work as a psychotherapist.
    Her poetry has been published most recently by Emma Press, Fair Acre Press and Lonesome Lit 3 Drops from a Cauldron zine.
    She is currently working on a novel, on illustrating her children's book and on her first pamphlet.

Speaking the unspeakable - Jacqueline Stearn

  • Speaking the unspeakable


    It is unspeakable


    the hoisting onto his shoulders

    behind his young man’s head

    the navy primary school uniform skirt 

    pleated across his neck

    thighs exposed to autumn sunshine.


    A game.


    A reach for bristled green spheres

    “Can you get them?”

    Then hands reaching up chubby thighs

    holding steady, ostensibly

    as older cousins’ did


    as dad’s hands did 

    on her legs, playing in the sea 

    laughing, splashing with excitement 

    at having him all to herself

    readying for the tip backwards into splash.


    Ostensibly.


    The left hand crept up her tenderness

    found the elastic of thick, navy knickers

    snaked fingers underneath, 

    found their way in to touch

    the girl child’s naked labia.


    She kicked the brown Clarks shoes

    drumming a tattoo on his ribs

    leant forwards, leapt and ran

    with a sprinted explosion through the grass

    made the lane, made home.


    Unspeakable.


    Released because his right hand 

    was engaged elsewhere?

    Or was letting the girl child escape

    part of the erotic charge, essential

    for his later replaying?


    Speaking the unspeakable. 

    Jacqueline Stearn

I’ll never leave her - Jacqueline Stearn

  • I’ll never leave her


    The dream pushed me awake

    as I went to attack the man.

    He was tall, wide-shouldered

    held the girl on the roof of the flats. 

    He was licking his lips.


    I had to leave her standing there.


    I screamed don’t you dare as I climbed

    locking eyes as he thrust 

    her used body away from his. 

    Learing for a fight he reached out 

    his spunk smeared hand to grab at my clothes.


    I caught it, locked hard with my grip

    executed the practiced pivot about our arms

    balance left foot, arc right boot, connect with skull.

    Surprise etched his face 

    as he collapsed.


    I woke before he dropped


    mortified that I’d left her 

    for the fight, not crouched

    beside her still trembling legs

    knickers gathered about her shoes

    wet with her urine too.


    Mortified that I’d not soothed with an arm, 

    a voice of understanding

    not listened to her saying

    over and over

    “That man is nasty.” 


    “Yes he was nasty.”


    Tears fall in the crouched writing

    of this long ago story that surfaced

    in dream, beckoning me to hold the girl 

    who got away, but couldn’t tell

    who fears what might have been, still.

    Jacqueline Stearn
    I divide my working day between writing and leadership coaching; playtime is with loved ones and in the wonderful Stroud Valleys. I have collaborated with local abstract artists on joint exhibitions, had my poetry published in Stroud poetry pamphlets and in the Ledbury Poetry Festival 2017, Poetica Botanica anthology.

Fake - Tabatha Stirling


  • FAKE



    my cheek razor burned by the

    office carpet.


    it might have been burgundy once,

    I think.


    we play a symphony of hurt.


    the rip of silk

    my bruised cunt

    he gobs in my face

    I conjur hexes


    hunted breaths

    fast tracking me into

    silence


    then

    I curl, I furl, I freefall

    into another tunnel of blackred pain


    but


    I know this one

    from a bedroom stuffed with

    sindy dolls

    long time

    past


    i am carbonated


    a yield of artificial crops


    IamIamIam


    you take the first exit off the highway

    and seem so smug .


    i am compelled to sink my teeth

    into your tiny softness


    so I do.

    Tabatha Stirling
    Tabatha Stirling is a writer, poet and indie publisher living in Scotland with her husband, two children and a depressed Beagle, called The Beagle. When she’s not writing, reading Grimdark or designing she enjoys watching dark, blood-splattered dramas like the Walking Dead, Ray Donavon and Outcast. Tabby is absolutely ready for a zombie apocalypse.

First - Valerie Tyler

  • First 


    Was he your first love

    but became your enemy,

    abuser, loser, accuser ?

    Did you love him so

    blindly, unconditionally

    forever, never doubting?

    Did it come as a surprise

    when he turned out to be

    full of lies, worms and flies? 

    Did you take the force

    when his fist became raised

    losing tears hid by fear?

    Do you look back, recall

    how he made you feel small

    on your own and prone to abuse

    Was you scared to let go

    when love had already gone

    left too late, turned to hate?

    Did you come to realise 

    you were in love with the idea,

    all was graduation of infatuation

    Did you learn to understand  

    how you were both too young, 

    playing, delaying adulthood?


    Can you look back, laugh, forgive

    expectations of each other

    admitting, quitting the blaming

    Do you hold your head high,

    see the world through new eyes,

    feel a strong part of heart?


    Then you have come far

    These things made you who you are.

    First love gains painful stains,

    place them in your basket

    with petals of no regret,

    plant gold beads with new seeds.

     

    On backs of unicorns

    hold the reigns in your own hands,

    ride waves of positivity, creativity

    will find the right path

    to bring what you deserve

    in this life, no strife, love yourself first.


    Valerie Tyler

Gun Dog - Catherine Whittaker

  • Gun Dog


    He stopped his battered Land Rover said, hop in

    bloodshot eyes, big barrelled laughter   


    green and gold tobacco tin on the dashboard.

    Gun dog barked in a cage behind the back seat,


    parked in the lay-by opposite Becks Wood

    stuttered her name tripping over the s sounds


    sour beer-breath whispered in her lungs. 

    Every week he waited outside her house. 


    He bought rounds of drinks for her parents 

    gin and lemon for the lady 


    best bitter for her husband    

    offered them jobs digging his garden, a bit of cleaning, 


    a helping hand to the new neighbours from the city

    just while they found their feet. 


    He even paid for a new second-hand washing machine

    so the villagers said twitching their curtains 


    but they liked him well enough

    he’d written a traditional cookbook


    been interviewed on telly their own local celebrity.  

    Catherine Whittaker

Sunblind - Jessica Whyte

  • Sunblind


    As children we’re told:

    Never look directly at the sun,

    shown warnings in books.

    So I sneaked glances when backs were turned,

    in awe of the fiery shadows which burned behind closed lids,

    fearing that the following morning I would wake up 

    sunblind.


    The morning after you did what you did

    I woke to a different kind of darkness,

    certain I would never again look directly at the sun,

    turning away from the pain of flame on retina.


    Yet it was impossible to avoid the sun’s heat,

    detested flesh stinging in all those marked places

    where fingerprints scorched through skin.


    Twenty years later, 

    I have only just learned how to lift my head,

    blink, 

    and once again dare to look:

    Directly. 


    Jessica Whyte

Torrent - Jessica Whyte

  • Torrent


    Listen:

    Do you hear the silent voice?

    It sounds not unlike my voice, 

    which is secretive, and shares nothing.

    The silence inside is invisible,

    it has to be plucked out, 

    like feathers.


    Listen;

    do you hear the echoes in the night?

    Rivers bursting their banks,

    while waves boom to the beat of the thudding unsaid.

    Then comes Courage,

    a great undamming.


    Listen -

    can you hear it, beating its wings?

    Taking us to the place 

    where a clamour of unheard voices ring

    like bells, tolling. 




    Jessica Whyte
    Jessica Whyte is a freelance writer. She has an English & Creative Writing degree from Manchester Metropolitan University and is currently training to use creative writing for wellbeing in community settings. She has previously published short stories, poetry and a travelogue and is writing a novel. She tweets @whyte_jessica 

Fun Turned Sour - Gayl Wright

  • Fun Turned Sour



    An uncle who

    should have been 

    Safe


    Me in high school

    My hands on piano keys

    His happy voice in song


    Laughter, music, singing

    Fun, innocent

    Until


    He stopped singing

    Began kissing my arms

    Up and down


    I stopped playing

    He said,

    What, you don't like it?


    I shuddered

    As I answered

    No


    I stood up

    Left the room

    Never told anyone


    Gayl Wright
    Gayl Wright lives in a log home in upstate South Carolina. Married 43 years, mother of 7, grandmother of 14, a seeker of truth who looks for beauty in ordinary things. She loves to create as she writes for her blog, composes poems, and dabbles in her art journal.https://www.gaylswright.com/

Blues - Carolyn Yates

  • Blues


    You 

    asked for it

    had it coming to you

    need to show respect

    know your place

    You

    spoke out of turn


    torn nightdress

    blood smear 

    on a pillowcase

    in the morning light

    dark times never 

    happened


    You 

    fantasised the bruise

    the blue flowering

    tiny bleeds under the skin

    manufactured 

    the split lip


    no fooling

    don’t know my own strength

    I never meant 

    to hurt

    I love you

    Tomorrow is another day.

    Carolyn Yates
    Blues was performed as part of Divine Discontent in DG Arts Festival 2014.

What We Now Know

What We Now Know - a creative collaboration inspired by #MeToo: A Women's Poetry Anthology. Video created by Adam Clarke & Victoria Bennett of The Common People. Written & recorded by Beth Porter & Ben Please of The Bookshop Band. Video created using Google Tilt Brush software.

Reaching out...

If you have been touched by the poems here, or those within the #MeToo anthology;  if you have been inspired to write your own poem in response, then we invite you to email it to us here at Wild Women Press. Because we acknowledge that this book, these poems, will reach out to both women and men, who stand up and say #MeToo, we welcome all people to contribute to the "Reaching out" space.

Over the next year, we will be posting some of these poems and words here on the #UsTogether page. Whilst we cannot promise to include everything we receive on the website, we reach out a hand and welcome you. 


Please email to: vik@wildwomenpress.com

Privelege - Polly Ernest

  • Privilege 



    They walk among us

    All the time 

    White

    Male

    Middle-class

    Oozing privilege 

    Along with other sleazy emissions 

    And omissions from reports

    Or safeguarding searches 


    Only petty criminals after all

    Didn’t hurt anyone 

    Did they?


    Just a bit of kiddy porn 

    Just initials on an organ 

    Good men after all

    Pillars of the community

    Saving lives 

    Leading choirs 


    Victimless crimes 

    Slap wrists, a fine, community ‘time’

    Get over it you say

    They didn’t actually hurt anyone 

    Did they


    With their white male middle class ways ? 

    Polly Ernest
    Mother of 5. Living donor. British European. Love words, hate injustice, interested in politics and people. When 3 of the 4 collide a poem may appear

Survive - Janet Hatherley

  • Survive


    He waits till I’m loving him, living

    with him – before

    he slaps me. Once he cuts my lip.  

    His sister says

    he only hits me because he loves me.


    That’s wrong, but confusing. Has a certain 

    logic – I was rarely slapped as a child, mostly 

    loved. The time he slaps me in the street 

    I feel as powerless as a child.


    I become adept at reading him, 

    avoiding situations.

    It’s hard work – doesn’t

    always work.

    When I walk down the street with 

    a male colleague

    I’m nervous – scan

    the crowd for people who might

    know me, might report back.


    I tell him I’m leaving –

    he forces me onto the bed. I’m aware

    it’s rape – if I fight he could throw me 

    from the balcony of our fifth floor flat.  

    I wouldn’t survive that but I will 

    survive this. I put it in 

    a compartment 

    that is not me

    and shut the door.


    For two weeks, he locks me in the flat 

    when he goes out.

    I pretend I’ve decided to stay –

    he believes it, stops locking 

    the door. I make my plans. The last time 

    I see him, I’m standing at the basin, washing

    my pink, white and yellow striped T-shirt.  

    He comes up behind, puts his arms around me,

    says, You’re angry with me.


    I look into his eyes – the reflection of his eyes

    in the bathroom mirror – say

    Yes.  


    I pack my bags and run. Never look back.


    Janet Hatherley
    Janet Hatherley lives in London and is a special needs teacher. Her poems have been published in several magazines, including Artemis, Ink Sweat & Tears, Obsessed With Pipework and South Bank Poetry. She has won third prize in the Barnet poetry competition, 2015 and been commended in Cannon Poets Sonnet or Not, 2017. She has work forthcoming in The Curlew, The Poetry Village and in Under the Radar. 

    er

Later I Wished That I Had Hurt Him - Ariśta Ishaya

  • Later I Wished That I Had Hurt Him


    He tackled me on a lonely road a few miles out of Listowel

    He came up softly behind me as I reached the top of the hill

    I was out of breath

    I turned expecting him to speak

    When he grabbed my arms I couldn’t believe it

    ‘Wait a minute’ I said, ‘let me get my breath’

    My natural response was to talk to him, it was automatic for me to speak

    I hadn’t realised: his motive didn’t allow for any connection

    ‘I’m going to teach you a lesson’ he said

    That’s when it registered and I knew

    I fought hard and it seemed to last forever and eventually he got up off me and melted back into the dark

    It was later that I wished that I had hurt him. 


    Ariśta Ishaya
    I am a 70 year old motorcycling monk and solo world traveller. A teacher of the Bright Path of the Ishayas (an ancient meditation which quickly reveals one's true nature). I am grateful for the incident (40 years ago) which inspired this poem as it was one of the life experiences which started me seeking a spiritual path.

Cashing Up - Ali Jones

  • Cashing Up


    Just keep counting, your hands apprenticed,

    do not think about his hands resting on your knee.

    Beneath the fluorescent light at the shift’s end, 

    in October, fling a fine grey fog across the month, 

    mottled window, raindrops travelling south, in time, 

    while his fingers march north along roads of your thigh.

    It’s late, hormones are running high, evening’s end, 

    darkening sky, just keep counting, hands apprenticed, 

    do not think about the fingers contemplating prey.

    A pile of silver coins, spring-loaded, partitioned drawer.

    Your trainers are gun coloured, watch what you do,

    through compound eyes, forget that you have a heart.

    Outside, you will name your friends, speak your price, 

    Newcastle Brown and Benson and Hedges, a pretence

    in the wilderness of perennial cover bands, moving on.

    Who will you inform of this exchange, before you reach 

    entreaty? Wait, stop, you have to concentrate on counting.

    Don’t think about the fingers, the lines they cross, 

    keep your hands apprenticed, raindrops moving down. 


    Ali Jones
    Ali Jones is a teacher, music lover, and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Proletarian Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Green Parent magazine and The Guardian. Her pamphlets Heartwood and Omega are forthcoming with Indigo Dreams Press in 2018.

‘Who will believe thee, Isabel?’ - Sue Mackrell

  • ‘Who will believe thee, Isabel?’


    Who indeed? The words of an eminent Lord,

    the Duke’s deputy, to a young nun.

    Her body is the price of her brother’s life.

    ‘To whom should I complain?’ she asks.

    ‘Did I tell this who would believe me?’


    An old story given new resonance.


    Perhaps she would have joined #MeToo


    Perhaps she would have signed #MeToo


    o earthly mean to save him, but that either

    You must lay down the treasures of your body

    To this supposed, or else to let him suffer;

    What would you do?

    ISABELLA

    Ha! little honour to be much believed,

    And most pernicious purpose! Seeming, seeming!

    I will proclaim thee, Angelo; look for’t:

    Sign me a present pardon for my brother,

    Or with an outstretch’d throat I’ll tell the world aloud

    What man thou art.

    Who will believe thee, Isabel?

    My unsoil’d name, the austereness of my life,

    My vouch against you, and my place i’ the state,

    Will so your accusation overweigh,

    That you shall stifle in your own report

    And smell of calumny. I have begun,

    And now I give my sensual race the rein:

    Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite;

    Lay by all nicety and prolixious blushes,

    That banish what they sue for; redeem thy brother

    By yielding up thy body to my will;

    Or else he must not only die the death,

    But they unkindness shall his death draw out

    To lingering sufferance. Answer me tomorrow,

    Or, by the affection that now guides me most,

    I’ll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,

    Say what you can, my false o’erweighs your true.

    ExitISABELLA

    To whom should I complain? Did I tell this,

    Who would believe me? O perilous mouths,

    That bear in the one and the self-same tongue,

    Either of condemnation or approof;

    Bidding the law make courts’y to their will:

    Hooking both right and wrong to the appetite,

    To follow as it draws! I’ll to my brother:



    (from Shakespeare’s Measure by Measure)

    Sue Mackrell

Pandora's Box - Sue Mackrell

  • Pandora’s Box


    Don’t tell anyone, said Zeus.

    It’s just between us, and anyway 

    no one would believe you - I’m King of the Gods. 

    And remember, don’t open the box.


    But she did.

    And out flew all the lies and deceits,

     dirty secrets and gagging orders,

    complicity and cover ups. 

    Until all that was left was Hope.


    And it was gathered up by women, 

     cherished and passed from hand to hand 

    until they gained the strength to speak out

    Together. 

    Sue Mackrell

The Apple - Sue Mackrell

  • The Apple



    Eve ate hers 

    and got The Knowledge

    (and the blame.)


    Snow White spat hers out

    and got the prince.


    Paris gave his to Aphrodite

    and started the Trojan Wars.


    Mine sits in the fruit bowl,

    biding its time.



    Sue Mackrell
    Sue Mackrell is a feminist poet and writer. She has an MA from Loughborough University and taught on the Creative Writing course there for several years. Her poems and short stories have appeared in a wide range of publications including Agenda and ‘Diversifly’ published by Fairacre Press. Apple was previously published as part of Poems in the Waiting Room and included in the University of Leicester International Women’s Day Exhibition 2018 

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