Monthly Archives: June 2012

siren

Welcome to the first issue of Siren!

Collected here is the work of unique artists who all share a similar conceptual interest in what is new, edgy, exciting, and experimental in their chosen mediums. These are artists who demand attention, whose work will challenge you to think, to feel. These are artists who are making their own paths, guided by voices and visions and the passion to create, to expand, and to discover.

In this issue, we offer a wide range of poetry, prose, flash fiction, stories, photography, music, and videos. Please click here to scroll through the entire issue. You can also click on the links in the current issue to view the artists’ individual work.

Thank you to all who submitted work to the inaugural issue of Siren. It was a privilege to read, view, and listen to all of the submissions and to see how people are engaging with writing and art, trying new things and approaching their creative pursuits in different ways. It is an honor to create a space in which to share the work of these exceptional artists.

Michelle Augello-Page
Editor

Siren

Issue 1, Summer 2012

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First Rain by Bill DesJardins

Recipe by Kristy Webster

Quietly by Heidi Harris

Poem by Vincent Francone

Untitled by Eleanor Bennett

How To Become A Shadow by Howie Good

Trashed – Untitled 1 by Jonnie Miles

Migrations by Robert McKay

A Kiss by Grant Palmer

Transformation by Jennifer Moffett

Tall Tall Tales by Heidi Harris

Fuck Knot by Shanna Germain

Pavement Grating by Jonnie Miles

Self-Loathing by Jay Sizemore

Open by Afton Wilky

Stalemate by Steve Mitchell

Being Gregory Levine by Bill DesJardins

Kant by Heller Levinson

Don’t Attack Me With Your Happiness by Kill The Band

The Lost Shirt by Ken Poyner

Plastic Sheeting in Tree by Jonnie Miles

The Egyptian Swing by Cutleri

Whispers by Peter Baltensperger

Untitled by Kyla Ann Gellein

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sirenzine.wordpress.com

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bound by lust

In Bound by Lust: Romantic Stories of Submission and Sensuality, editor Shanna Germain has put together a collection of 19 outstanding stories which “explore many of the ways that lust and love interconnect to create sex that’s dirty, degrading, mind blowing, arousing, and, yes, sweetly romantic.”

I have long been a fan of Shanna Germain’s work; her writing is deliciously rich and lush with language and imagery, so I was quite excited to read this anthology curated by her brilliant eye for Cleis Press. Bound by Lust features some of contemporary erotica’s hottest authors, and offers a collection of well-written stories which explore bondage and lust in a myriad of different ways.

I had expected that BDSM would be a theme throughout the collection, and was pleased to find that the stories in this collection took a broad view of bondage, looking at not only the physical manifestations of bondage, but also how we are bound to our needs to expand and grow, to express and discover, and to deepen and define our expressions of sex, sexuality, and relationships.

Under the Clock by Justine Elyot, Eine Klien Spanking by Clarice Clique, Devil’s Night by Veronica Wilde, A Preference for Deference by Allison Wonderland, Crossing the Line by Dominic Santi, and Spring Training by Donna George Storey are stories that immerse the reader in the lifestyle dynamic surrounding kink and bondage, and focus on aspects of training and education as the characters search limits, boundaries, and freedoms in their sexual relationships.

Beautiful Corpse by Craig Sorensen, Being His Bitch by Janine Ashbless, The Heart of Chaos by Rachel Kramer Bussel, and A Few Things to Pick Up on Your Way Home by Andrea Dale are stories that explore and reveal the heart at the center of our sexual relationships. These stories remind us that a relationship with another who shares our deepest desires is an incredible bond. To be bound also means to be secure, and fosters openness, acceptance, and growth.

Marcelle by Alana Noël Voth, Slave Sister by Vida Bailey, Reclaiming Spring by Sommer Marsden, and Whippoorwill by Teresa Noelle Roberts are stories that demonstrate the incredible capacity for healing found in our sexual relationships. Sex is an action, a physical activity that reveals the unspoken, non-verbal language of the body. When we engage our sexual selves with another, we speak what we cannot say through language; we release stress and trauma as we expose, reveal, and accept one another.

Brushstrokes by Kristina Wright, Defining the Terms by Sharazade, Steps by Evan Mora, Life Lines by Nikki Magennis, and No Sleep by Kristina Lloyd are stories that relate to the power of language and the mindful articulation of our wants, needs, and desires. These stories are aware that sex is essentially a form of communication, a uniting of minds and bodies, a shared experience that demands self-awareness, and a powerful means of growth, knowledge, and discovery.

“The stories in Bound by Lust are sweetly romantic, but they’re also kinky, dirty, and full of delicious debauchery,” says editor Shanna Germain, “They’ll make your libido soar along with your heart, showing once and for all that kink and love are not separate entities. They are bound together by the finest ropes, by the tightest knots, by the lustful beatings of loving hands – and loving hearts.”

Bound by Lust is a stellar anthology, well-written and provocative, offering the reader an expansive collection of stories that explore many facets of our sexuality and our sexual relationships, as related to bondage, kink, dominance, submission, love, and desire. These stories are smart and sexy, and the collection as a whole will find you stimulated and spell-bound, body and mind, bound by lust.

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Bound by Lust
Edited by Shanna Germain
Published by Cleis Press
$14.95, Trade Paper
224 pages
ISBN: 978-1-57344-792-8
June 2012
Distributed by Publisher’s Group West


reading series 6.2

By Heidi Darras, Mystic Dreamer Tarot

I was feeling kind of down when I posted in this reading series a couple of days ago, so I wanted to write again and balance things out a bit by sharing more perspective.

My feelings about my new job have been very complex. Yet, I am grateful for having a job. And when I think about it further, working in retail may not be ideal, but it is not a bad job. In fact, it’s a relatively easy job. Many people in the world work at far harder jobs for less money, and I am very well aware of the privileged position I am in.

Having been unemployed in these recent times, having been one of the many Americans who were laid off in this shaky economy, and then faced with a severely limited job market, I feel grateful to have work. For a long time, I wasn’t able to find ANY job.

And I know many people are still jobless, still searching. I know that there are many people who thought that higher education would lead to better career options, and have found themselves with interest laden student loans, no available work, and no way out. So many people in the world are struggling in terms of economics and money.

One of the best things about where I work is that it seems to be a microcosm of society. Because it is such a large retail store, vastly different people – young and old, rich and poor, black and white, all in between – walk through the door. My co-workers are very diverse, and come from a wide range of different ages, races, and experiences. We’re all in it together.

I find it very interesting that this grouping seems to avoid the hierarchy and clique mentality that accompanies so many communities. While there are power differentials, there is also a high degree of respect. The eighteen year old cashier has the same value as than the sixty year old cashier, without any regard to gender or race or class.

Some supervisors are in their early 20s, others are in their 50s – they have the same responsibilities, the same pay rate, and are promoted solely by their work performance. In a way, it is kind of refreshing. It gives me hope to how we engage with each other in society when all these other things are broken down and we are truly equalized.

I’ve given a lot of thought recently to cliques and some of the things that I mentioned in my last post – how some communities of people band together into an inclusive group and hold their esteem of each other high by simultaneously putting down other people and exerting power and control by manipulation, gossip, and exclusion.

What I don’t understand is why other people do not seem to care, and instead of feeling disgust – they actually are fueled by a desire to join the group. They are desperate to be IN instead of OUT, without even questioning what they are so desperate to get into.

When people attach to a group because of their need for acceptance and validation, the group becomes a representation – a warped ideal that has no basis in reality. Often, this kind of group is divisive and feeds upon conflict and drama. The entire group is built upon projection, presentation, and fantasy. Peel back the layers, and one is left looking at people who are hollow, shallow, and desperately insecure.

When we think about society, about how change can happen – it is important to recognize how we engage with others in our personal relationships. As a teacher, especially one with an early childhood concentration, I have a very strong interest and intimate knowledge about how we learn as a society. We teach our children how to learn, how to behave and how to interact in their individual lives as well as in society.

It always concerns me that what we are teaching our children in schools is not necessarily what we are teaching our children in home and in social groups. In school, children are taught that everyone is equal, that everyone has worth and value. Yet, we do not behave that way. Our very system of government is built upon a group hierarchy and the discrepancy between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

In school, children are proactively taught that bullying is bad. Yet, children develop cliques – often implicitly encouraged by adults who model this behavior. It is unfortunate how many sports teams, dance classes, and scout troops have become a breeding ground for clique mentality under the guidance of adults who want their children to be “popular”.

I think the reason why these types of groups bother me so much is because I just feel that it isn’t necessary. It is harmful. It’s a model we have used from childhood. It’s a model that is reflected in our overall engagement with each other as human beings in so many different ways.  We can do better.

There are people who do band together and create groups who accept everybody, who value and respect each other, and who do not rely on the immaturity of a “popular crowd” to sustain the dynamic of the group.

People in these communities generally also have a high degree of self-worth. They are not seeking validation or acceptance, per se – they are seeking genuine relationships. They want to expand and grow and discover. One of the best ways to do that is through positive social interaction and communication with others. In this model, the community is a positive force and can be a powerful tool for individual and collective change.

Today, I want to share three more poems – poems that focus on the light, what  balances us by lighting the darkness in our lives.

Click here to read a few poems which speak to the light.


three poems

 

hallowed art thou

sitting in the chair opposite the tattoo artist
it’s been a while since my last confession

I remove my hoodie, revealing ink and scars
a cursory look, he sees more than he wants
to see, feels more than he wants to feel.

he leans towards me and takes my body into
his hands, applies the sting of the needle, calm,
calm, steady, I am resting against his side,

pressed against him, talking about choices and
paths, never giving up, never giving in. And he,
nodding, eager to believe, knowing how many

walk through his door, broken, beaten, needing
to cross thresholds of pain, to grow, to evolve,
to feel, we need the scar, the visible wound

we need to remember, not only what is lost,
but what is found; the absolute gift of being here.

I walk outside blinking in the bright sun,
temporarily blinded by the moment of it all,
the staggering weight of the lightest contact

between us: a white cloth, a crumpled dollar bill.
he is a professional; he touches my face with his
eyes, he says, good luck, I really mean that.

He is not here to give absolution. He is here
for art, for his own redemption, he lives in a world
where the used come to heal; he crosses himself

twice reaching for the mask and gloves, and again,
reaching for the needle, he needs a steady hand,
a steady hand, oh god a steady hand.

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Still. Here.

Mariko sits with her legs crossed
back straight, chest lifted, eyes
closed. She reminds us to return
always to breath, inhale, exhale

She turns up her hands, placing
one on each knee, and tells us the
folk wisdom that palms upturned
are receptive to gifts from the gods

Following her movement, I try
but my hands resist, they are used
to grasping, to clutching, to holding
on so tightly, afraid to let go

Slowly, each palm unfolds like an
early spring flower, outstretched
vulnerable and wanting, the whole
of my heart beats wildly yes

until I am no longer I. Each breath
is shared by the universe, cosmic
energy, all are one in the fabric of
time and space and energy

opening my eyes again, I return
to my body, my legs and arms and
hands. My mind blinks in the soft
light, and I am (still, here)

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summer

we sat together closely, hands
touching, arms and legs bare,

while fireflies lit the night
with their shy and brief flame,

looking for a match, for another
soul awake and alive, to share

the soft breeze, to feel summer
swiftly moving across the sky

I laid my head on his shoulder
and he kissed me, as the world

shone with possibilities, sweet
intoxications, love. All of our

blessings, our dreams and gifts,
are touched by angel’s wings;

our souls rush to the surface, in
recognition, in greeting, and the

whole universe shines within,
enchanting our eyes with stars.

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reading series 6.1


Five of Pentacles by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

 

I’m happy to have a little bit of time to set aside and post in this reading series! Since I first began this series, I haven’t able to post in it as much as I would have liked – but that’s okay. Now, my aim is to post at least once a month. I can do once a month!

In truth, the last few months have been very difficult. The reasons for this are mostly economic, but thankfully I did get a job very soon after my unemployment ended. Since I was laid off, I applied for jobs that could either directly or tangentially relate to  my degree in Elementary Education or my degree in Creative Writing.  Nothing came back to me.

I wanted to get something in my field. I applied for teaching jobs across the board – early childhood, elementary, adjunct. I applied for childcare. I applied to be a nanny. I applied for entry level company jobs. Editing. Publishing. Writing in technical, medical, or scientific capacities. Nothing worked.

Then I applied for other things. Coffee shops, retail, restaurants, packing and supply stores. Every door I knocked on remained closed. My unemployment ended. And at the 11th hour, I got a job at a large retail store. I make slightly more than minimum wage. I am making less than half of what I received from unemployment. And on unemployment, I was already in the poverty range.

A few days ago, I had to buy a dress for my daughter for her graduation. I had twenty dollars to spend, and we were able to find a beautiful dress. But buying it left me with nothing. Today, I received my first paycheck. And I have to keep reminding myself that the amount I received is better than receiving nothing, which is where I would be without this job. I tried hard to get a job in my field. I am highly educated. I have experience. It didn’t matter.

I am grateful for this job. It was the only door that opened for me. But working in retail after so many years is difficult for me. My feet hurt at the end of my shift. My body aches from the constant repetitive movements the job requires. My brain is raging from this mind-numbing work, searching the positive and coming up short. I feel tired. I feel old. I feel out of place.

Nevertheless, I am a good worker. I always have been. I started working when I was 11 years old, wrapping “big cookies” in a neighbors garage on Saturdays, which she sold at a field market. The job was “off-the-books” and I liked it. I was the youngest of the workers, who were mostly teenage girls. I was a little left out. I was quiet. I listened to their gossip and stories and idle talk. I listened to the radio.  Sometimes the cookies were broken, and at the end of the shift, we were allowed to take the broken cookies home.

After that, I continued to work steadily. I have always had a job, sometimes two or three at a time. I decided to get a masters degree in teaching because I wanted a career – I wanted to do something that I love. Both of my parents worked at jobs they hated, and I was always aware of that. My father worked in a warehouse and my mother was a secretary. They encouraged my education, encouraged me to take out loans, encouraged me to make something of my life – to make money, to do better than they did. Instead I am left with student loans in a broken economy, in a field that lays off more teachers than are hired.

So, recently I have felt even more displaced than usual. I’ve been very sensitive. After I leave work, I find myself in tears. I feel tested. Even the artistic communities that I am involved with … I am in the margins. I am different. When I was in my 20’s, I was raising children. I was already a single parent, struggling. Now, I don’t have the time or the patience for the clique mentality and group hierarchy that seems to accompany so many communities. Again, I am set apart. I don’t play “the game” – I never did.

I went to a K-8 catholic elementary school, and was with the same community of children for years. The group of friends I had since kindergarten decided somewhere around 5th grade that they were the “popular” group. They started making fun of others, being mean to others, excluding others. They started setting themselves above others by clinging together and creating an inclusive group. They were the prettiest, the most talented, the funniest, the coolest. They had inside jokes. They had a ticket to the golden road. They had power.

(I can actually apply this very analogy to certain groups I know at my advanced age, which I find desperately sad)

When this started to happen, I spoke out. I said it wasn’t right to be mean or make fun of or exclude other people. There was no reason for it, except to raise themselves above them. Even though these were my close friends, I was friends with everyone. But I couldn’t stop them. So I left the group. It was a conscious decision and there was a backlash. I didn’t care.

I’ve wondered about that decision at different times in my life. How strange that, as a child, I would choose to be a loner. All I had to do was play “the game”, play along. But I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. In some ways, I think my very nature is predisposed to displacement. Most times, it doesn’t bother me. But sometimes it does. I know that my nature and temperament speaks to the fact that I am a writer. I am myself in every social situation. I am who I am. I am incapable of being fake or manipulative. I am generally a kind and giving person. But sometimes I feel rejected by the world.

It’s been many years since I have been on this path consciously … the path of my life. I am usually a very positive person, which I always find funny because my realities are hard, really hard. Harder than I sometimes think I can deal with. But nevertheless, I keep going. I keep trying. I get up again and again, hoping all the while that the next time I will fail better.

Today, I want to share three old poems, all of which are a little sad. But I guess that is just the mood I am in. Sometimes I need to remember – I have been here before, been in places where hope seemed as dark as the blackness between the stars. And then, things change. The sun comes up again on a new day. Each day is an opportunity to create the world anew…

Click here to read these poems that speak to the darkness before the dawn.


three poems

 

Social Services

The way of poverty is plastic chairs, dirty walls, oppressive air, fluorescent lights, no windows. It is few men, absent fathers, women, women with children, children crying, children wide-eyed, restless, and bored. It is the long wait to see the clerk, who mispronounces your name and sits behind bullet proof glass, leisurely. The clerk will tell you what else you need to complete your application, and there is always something missing.

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Breaking the surface of water

Holding my breath
as a child, I remember, sliding
under the warm bath water, and waiting
for the dull thump of my heart
to echo in my head, and that’s when
I knew it was time
and I would allow my body to break
the surface of water

I am back under it, and like a bad dream
I can’t break through. I watch myself
waiting for him to release me, and then
a child’s scream, another bearing witness,
and something primal is released
within me

My body thrashes, I draw up my knees
rock back and forth, anything
to release my pinned arms, the weight
on my chest, his hands around my neck
are no more, never again.

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EXIT

you came into my mother’s house, you came
into our home, with your bloodshot blue eyes
large hands, blurry ink, and open wounds.

you came with the dark, black dreams
without stars, nightmares holding secrets
and silence, you walked in soft footsteps down
the hall, thinking no one could hear you,

but I learned to never sleep, to close my eyes
and listen, for the rush of air, the push-pull
of a door that had no key, no lock, no exit

and I hated you. I hated you for so long, and
then I felt nothing. It was as if you didn’t exist,
as if you never came into our lives, and
you didn’t touch me. You never touched me.

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tale of the hourglass

I’m so excited and happy to have my story “Tale of the Hourglass”  included in the beautiful debut issue of Rose Red Review!

Rose Red Review is a new online journal which “seeks to publish art, photography, fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry that best reflects the magic in the every day–work that honors the past, the moment, and the uncertain future.”

Click here to read “Tale of the Hourglass” and be sure to check out all of the talented writers and artists collected in this lovely issue!

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