New piece by Connie Woodring.
My very first memory. I was three years old, playing in the sandbox with other kids.
In a flash, a boy hit me in my face with his metal shovel (no plastic in those days.)
It was my first sight of blood, my blood.
I still have the scar on my right eyebrow.
At a very young age I was introduced to the Old Maids card game. The picture of the ugly old white lady who never married scared the bejeesus out of me. I swore I would do everything in my power to not end up like that! It wasn’t until much later in life that I asked whoever was listening, Why isn’t there a card game called “Happy Black Bachelor?”
Even though my grandmother was an atheist, she and other relatives insisted I go to Sunday School and church. I dutifully obeyed and read the Bible from cover to cover the summer of my seventh year. It meant nothing to me, and I couldn’t pronounce all the names with letters of more than eight. However, one thing stuck with me. Eve was the cause of humanity’s downfall and was responsible for making all women suffer in childbirth. Unconsciously, I, being female, determined I was a horrid being and could never redeem myself.
In 5th grade the classroom bully regularly pushed me around into swings and seesaws.
I told me mother. She boldly ordered, “Push him back!”
I did push him, except it was into traffic, and he narrowly escaped severe injury.
However, he never bothered me again.
In 6th grade another class bully (who was always nice to me) got throttled by our teacher.
We horrified classmates listened as he was pushed into iron coat hooks in the cloak room.
He screamed and was smacked.
When he and our teacher came out of the torture chamber, we sat silently staring straight ahead.
No one ever talked about this incident, but we never saw that class bully again.
As a geometry student in high school, I was ordered to leave the room by Mr. B——. “Woodring, you can leave by the door or by the window!” The window was three stories high.
My crime: I couldn’t understand a geometry concept and asked for help. Years later, feminists bemoaned the fact that females are under-represented in math and science fields.
Like the 6th grade classroom experience, all students looked straight ahead and didn’t say anything to me after class.
When I was a psychiatric social worker at a state hospital, I was attacked by a male teenage patient.
I was in a bathroom stall.
I heard the outer door open but no sound.
When I opened the door, this patient lunged at me, putting his hands around my throat.
I always dreamt that if this were ever to happen, I wouldn’t be able to scream.
However, I found my very loud voice, and the boy ran out.
I reported this incident and made a formal complaint, indicating that in my professional opinion such a patient should not have been granted open ward privileges.
The response from the superintendent was, “Are you sure you didn’t provoke the attack?”
My ex-husband stereotypically did not like my mother.
On the last occasion that she visited us he blew a hole in the living room wall with his double-barrel shot gun.
His response, “Oh! I was just cleaning it. I thought it was unloaded.”
My mother and I never spoke of this incident, but I read the fear in her eyes.
He always threatened to kill me if I ever left him.
A year later I divorced him, considering it would be better to be shot by him than to live the rest of my life as a dumbified and mummified wife.
An American white woman friend of mine dated a black man. Her next-door Nazi neighbor who had a portion of Mein Kampf tattooed on his bald head came to her door one day and threatened, “Get rid of your n— or watch him hang from my oak tree!” She obeyed.
On 9/11 a colleague came into my office at the end of a most horrendous day.
She was smiling, and so I asked, “Didn’t you hear about what happened?”
Her answer, “Oh, yes. That’s why I’m so glad! Today is the Rapture when all the sinners will die, and I will be going to heaven—probably tonight!”
Since she wasn’t an Islamic terrorist, I realized I had just had an encounter with a born-again.
At a ripe old age, I died and went to heaven, although I have no idea how that happened. In spite of reading the Bible, I believed in God until I was 19. It was then that I took a sociology of religion course in college and never looked back.
Now I am quite bored as I listen to God’s incessant poetry: “I Blessed America,” “I Work in Mysterious Ways,” “I am a Jealous God and There are No Other gods Before Me.”
I amuse myself diagnosing God: insecure megalomaniac, misogynist, sociopath, Extreme Patriarchitis.
I long for the day when a non-gendered being of some sort will emerge to never want to rule the universe.
Only then will I be able to finally go to sleep.
New poem by Elinor Clark
Oh strange, spiky plant.
Though stunted, you still stretch upwards,
Desperately digging in roots.
But with each growth remember the tub that you’re held in.
Nowhere to go.
Thick, plastic looking skin
Inflicted with some serious malady.
Will scare anyone away.
Put the spikes up.
Pretend that’s what you want.
As a belated tribute to all trans sisters, a poem from Anastasia Walker, appearing in S/tick Issue 2.4: OUTreach.
To 22 year old rapper Evon, suffocated with a plastic bag, choked with a chain, and beaten with wrenches and hammers in Milwaukee on New Year’s Day
To 20 year old Nicole in Brazil, shot to death after the boy she kissed and his companheiros discovered the secret that shouldn’t have to be secret
To 21 year old Dannie, kidnapped and decapitated by an armed gang in Monterrey
To the unnamed but not nameless 22 year old shot in Sarasota the same day
To Ale, 24 years old, in Buenos Aires, killed somehow the day after
To Fernanda, 32, of Viamo, Brazil, shot by two men in a car
To Tiffany of Guyana, sex worker, teenager, throat slit
To Nathalia, 32, stabbed in Quezon City, and her death mocked in the papers
To Cecilia, age not given, shot six times in Fortaleza
To Natalya, treinta, shot twice in Maracaibo, tierra del sol amada
And Jeckson and ?, killed in the same city,
And = =, killed by a car up the coast in Caracas, all on the 19th
To Agata, just a teen, stabbed to death in Camapua the day after my 49th birthday
To Romildo of Recife, stoned to death after 35 years of life
To Alejandra, 28, neglected to death in a Colombian hospital after a fight
To 30 year old Indian Vinod, shot
To 36 year old Karen of Zimatlán de Álvarez, found stabbed and half naked
To 27 year old La Tita of Ciudad Sandino, la Nueva Vida, stabbed in her home by her date
To 18 year old Vitória of Boa Vista, stabbed to death by her boyfriend:
It’s not the sanctioned bigotry, spanning hemispheres and centuries, which these crime scene snaps flesh out
Nor the thought of so much vibrancy so thoughtlessly snuffed out
Nor even the ferocity of your murders – call them atrocities –
That sits like nine hundred pounds of lead and ice in my heart, but the fear
That as the motherfuckers came at you
Punch-drunk and snarling for blood
You might for a second have felt
I deserve this.
This poem draws on the list of murder victims compiled annually for the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) observed across the U.S. and Canada, and in cities around the globe, in mid-November.
A Throwback Thursday piece by Yvonne Jayne, originally published July 2014.
I am shaped by her thought of me,
I am named in her dreams,
Baptized by her vision of me
And born into her likeness.
I am shattered by her disappointments
I cry for her lost life,
I fall in her vacuum and
I flail in her failures.
I am driven by her dreams,
I am powered by her regrets,
She is capsized by the curse
Of her marriage to a madman.
I am rocked by his rages
Storms in the long night,
His genius beats against his bars
I am shattered by his disappointments.
I am unsteady, rising to the sun,
I am called in visions
To express what is sinking,
Back to the core of me again.
I am unheard in my expression
Struggling to have a voice,
I am told to stop being dramatic
And make obedience my choice.
I am shattered by their disappointments
Drowning in their struggles,
Each is the enemy of the other
Storms in the long night.
A new poem by Harley Claes.
I think I can only sleep next to you in sex trance
when the veil is fresh from sociopath
and the smile sweet from narcissus
when I’m lucid you’re but a monster with the urge to
choke out the docile
in every woman and mother that is not she, your great
love and captor
your long lost blood line
fleeting and finicky
dependent and long foreseen
knowing if she could see
she would be ashamed
New poem by Casey Catherine Moore
Is the bottled-up emotions, forced down by Uranus into Gaia’s belly
The tears that leak out after ages of suppression
Our oppression is when the words
Are trapped on the backs of our tongues
And feelings pull forth instead
Like the last bit of honey oozing from the jar
They call us hysterical, a word tied to the darkness of the womb, hystera
But you need no womb to be a woman and to be a woman is to be transcendent
They teach us to be givers, to twist ourselves in different spaces
They tell us we are both Madonnas and whores
They build the gilded cage and ask us to dance
And call us bossy when we make the rules
When Pandora was made from Earth Phobos screamed
And man took heed and tried to shovel her back down
But woman is necessity, Ananke, and because she is darkness she is the only thing who
can chase away Night.
New poem by M. Magee
All telling stories
Like tender snowflakes
All part of a raging storm
They call to me
And to you
And to all of us
Rage! Die! Kill! Scream!
Don’t let the mean ones in
Don’t let the nice ones out
Don’t let me out
Rage against the machine.
Such an awesome word
Tracing snow-angels after the storm
One, Two, Three
Angels in a row
All Her Stories left there
Three dead snow-angels
New poem by Tanasha Martin
I am laid bare.
An ink tattoo
with scarlet cells
my body welcomes
and warms, and
as is written,
I take my place
and multiply –
an option you should appreciate
and you say you do, but you
I am exposed.
of once tiny scarlet cells
to a body
and warmed, and
as is written,
I took my place
and she multiplied –
but no options were ever appreciated,
only met with white-knuckled
We live on display.
shunned by the blind; we
and torn, and
as is written
you take your
and as hypocrites do, multiply –
For the options of outrage are reciprocal,
its fury seizes you by the throat.
Our ears will repeatedly ring
with spurious sentiment,
but it should subdue and
soothe our souls to know:
is not an admirable attribute.
Breeds no mercy in your belief.
When hate is what you live to breed – promote,
Mercy is what you will have revoked.
New poem by Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb
How do I understand
these strange times
when, in discovering
my humanity, I lose
my sense of life? Giving
in to ingenuity, I forget
the nature in which I am
embedded, my body,
spirit, brain, mind,
for the elusive
structures that provide
the concept of self,
define Homo sapiens,
or create the contrast
that forms the other.
I know the same-celled
vermin, even individuals,
who dwell within my home
and how to kill
an infestation, yet think
about half robotic
to carry miniature
microphones to find
our kind in disasters,
search and rescue
there are the rodents
caged in labs, engineered
for research, genetic
codes altered, blueprints
to expand our lifespan.
Have I misunderstood
the cost of kinship?
New poem by Melissa Garcia Criscuolo
from his hole
of a mouth
and his tongue
escapes a fat black
leech at my
neck his lips press
into my cut
under his torso
I do not want
this his words
like a rusty
scalpel and I
out of gauze