Excerpt: Susana H. Case, Monica Wendel, & Amber West
From Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence
Susana H. Case
Desert washes make me think of dead girls
in shallow graves—lost—bereft of splendor
their sun-blonded heads turned to roughened dust.
Was this where Evil buried bodies back
in ’66—would he go out this far
or are they harshly covered over now
with sprawl—the cheapened ground subdivided?
A deeper maul on top of stolen breath:
lives lived with dearth of yearning to escape
to shed fast the stench of cardboard boredom.
He stood before in a wash such as this
must have had an aftertaste of disgust
choosing already the better next one.
Then turned to go back past Lucky Strike Bowl
past Lube N Tune—past Factory 2-U
past Majestic Tattoo—past EZ Cash
past the Junque for Jesus billboard. Turned back
as I will turn on Escalante—stop
and wonder what those closest to me are
capable of that I have not yet seen.
First appeared Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and from The Cost of Heat by Susana H. Case and published by Pecan Grove Press, © 2010 by Susana H. Case. Reprinted with permission of the author.
In Supermarkets in Italy, You Have to Put on Gloves to Touch the Bananas
I’m not there, though. I’m on the Lower East Side
in a bookstore where a little black dog in a skull & bones
sweater sleeps on a couch, snoring. A bookstore dog.
Whenever I come here I end up rereading the Redefining Consent
anarchofeminist zine, but never buy. It starts
with a female-identified female-bodied person
getting sexually assaulted in college, generic story,
so generic that it lacks verisimilitude, but then moves to this weird
personal-responsibility zone with 83 questions
you should ask yourself to find out if you’re a rapist.
Number one: have you ever proceeded in a sexual situation
without prior verbal consent? Number two: if verbal
consent was given, did the person’s body language or brief moments
of hesitation, intake of breath, quickening pulse,
communicate anything other than consent?
Number three: are you aware of your partner’s possible abuse
history as a survivor of sexual assault or as a frat-boy perpetrator
pushing past limits set before punch, Keystone Ice, and close dancing?
It reminds me of the supermarkets in Italy: reaching
for the bananas, my host-sister slapped my hand away
and pointed to the gloves, miming. In my pidgin Italian,
even I understood what she said: how could you have been so stupid?
First appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Winter 2011 and from, Call it a Window by Monica Wendel, © 2011 Monica Wendel published by Midwest Writing Center Press, and forthcoming from Georgetown Review Press in No Apocalypse in 2013. Reprinted with permission of the author.
He sweeps her rubber ashes
into the wooden pencil box
clasps the tiny silver lock
carries her with him
wherever he goes
Sometimes to pass the time
he opens the box and runs
one finger through the soft
pink shavings, piles her
like a tiny sand mountain
blows the peak softly: landslide
He traces a happy face
into her dust, closes and shakes
the box, wonders whether
to sprinkle her somewhere
Where would she rather be, really?
He does not know:
there must be nowhere.
He never imagines
he does not know her well.
He made her.
He erased her.
What more is there to know?
First appeared in Southword, Online Volume 21A, March 2012 and was awarded the Highest Commendation in the 2012 Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Competition.
Women Write Resistance (2013, Hyacinth Girl Press) is edited by Laura Madeline Wiseman. She has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, the full-length book Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012), the letterpress books Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012), and Farm Hands (Gold Quoin Press, 2012), and the chapbooks She Who Loves Her Father (Dancing Girl Press, 2012), Branding Girls (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Ghost Girl (Pudding House Publications, 2010), and My Imaginary (Dancing Girl Press, 2010). Her poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and reviews have appeared in Margie, Poet Lore, Blackbird, Arts & Letters, Prairie Schooner, Feminist Studies, Thirteenth Moon, American Short Fiction, Cream City Review, and elsewhere.
She has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner Award, a Will P. Jupiter Award, a Susan Atefact Peckham Fellowship, a Louise Van Sickle Fellowship, several Pushcart Prize nominations, and grants from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Focus for the Arts, the Center for the Great Plains Studies, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation.
Susana H. Case, professor at the New York Institute of Technology, has recent work in many journals, including Hawai’i Pacific Review, Portland Review, Potomac Review, and Saranac Review. She is the author of the chapbooks The Scottish Café (Slapering Hol Press), Anthropologist In Ohio (Main Street Rag Publishing Company), The Cost Of Heat (Pecan Grove Press), and Manual of Practical Sexual Advice (Kattywompus Press). An English-Polish reprint of The Scottish Café, Kawiarnia Szkocka, was published by Opole University Press in Poland. Her book, Salem In Séance (WordTech Editions) was released January, 2013. Elvis Presley’s Hips & Mick Jagger’s Lips is forthcoming from Anaphora Literary Press.
Monica Wendel is the author of No Apocalypse (forthcoming, Georgetown Review Press) and the chapbook Call it a Window (Midwest Writing Center, 2012). She holds a BA in philosophy from the State University of New York at Geneseo and an MFA in poetry writing from New York University. A recipient of NYU’s Goldwater and Starworks teaching fellowships, she has taught writing at Goldwater Hospital, St. Mary’s Health Care Center for Kids, NYU, and St. Thomas Aquinas College. In 2013 she will serve as the writer-in-residence at the Kerouac Project of Orlando, Florida.
Amber West is a poet, playwright, and educator. Her writing has appeared in journals such as Calyx and Journal of Research on Women & Gender, and in the edited volume, Episodes from a History of Undoing: The Heritage of Female Subversiveness (Cambridge Scholars, 2012). She earned her MFA in Poetry at NYU, and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Connecticut where her research focuses on contemporary feminist poetry, pupptery, and hybrid performance. Her plays and “puppet poems” have been performed in theaters in SF and NY. She lives in Brooklyn where she’s co-founder of the artist collective, Alphabet Arts.