Article Category Archives: Poetry

To Dye or Not to Dye

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Fifty Shades of Grey by Robyn Martelly


To Dye or Not to Dye

To dye or not to dye, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler to let the grey hairs win
And reveal the age she truly is,
Or to take arms against the march of time
And hit the Clairol aisle at Shoppers. To dye—to streak,
Or more; and by dyeing to hide
The roots and faded follicles
That dot the ageing scalp: ‘tis a temptation
Difficult to resist. To dye—to streak;
To streak, perchance with foils—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that choice to dye what costs may come,
When she must colour every month or so,
Must give her pause—there’s the price
That makes expense of so long life.
Yet who would bear the tyranny of age,
The dismissive glance, the cheery “Dear”
The assumed discount on Seniors Days
The insolence of youth and the scorn
Of techie geeks
When she herself might fix it all
With a single flask of dye?
She ponders highlights, hues, and tones,
Till a nagging question wracks her brain.
“Why not be who I truly am?
To hell with turning back the clock!”
And thus the needless plans to dye,
Are cast off with a single thought:
“I’m free of this, let the grey begin
I shall embrace my silver locks.”

With apologies to William Shakespeare

The Reclamation

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When young I ran
loose and barefoot
Over partially colonised fields
and tide-transmuted rock.
Not pausing to consider the life
crushed underfoot
Or the millennia sharply pressed
into my tender arches.
I just wanted to splash, mindlessly
Into the water.

I am still barefoot, but circumspect.
And cognisant of the grass
Between my toes.

I think if I stand for a time
The blades will grow long
and cover my legs
Ants will march up and find refuge
in my bellybutton
Wild roses will entwine
my pubis, and my breasts
will provide nest space for swallows.
My ears will be repurposed for hives
by fat bees, and my nose will prove a
quiet place for chrysalides.

And if I follow the new-born butterflies
To the shore of my youth
I will not splash, but float,
Arms spread wide and toes splayed,
allowing fish to nibble my skin
for sustenance.
And if the seaweed reclaims my hair
as its own
And pulls me down to the Basin floor
to live with the hermit crabs and periwinkles

I will not resist.

Waiting by Sally Warren

Busting Bollywood and
Aged Cumin

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Busting Bollywood — A Ghazal

Fair, light, gori gori of course.
Mukherjee Sunderji is she.
Vibrations and hips in sync.
Unnatural crimson is she.

You are so young. You are so ripe.

Cinema lights are bright and bold.
Dalit untouchable is she.
Unbutton more, the director nudges.
Hijra with henna hands is she.

You look so young. You are a peach.

Say no this time.
You can refuse.
Lips are sealed. No kissing. Body is rock is she.

You are a doll. You are an angel.

One more take and scene is rough.
Playback singer Bollywood glam.
Tickets sold. Masala snacks in hand.
It will be all worth it.

A young starlette is born.


Galaxy by Sherry Lynn Jollymore


Aged Cumin — A Ghazal

I use the mortar that grinds his scent from my neck.
Grind and crush away the Old Spice of his sweat.
Oil, ghee, sweet rice and green cardamom, elaichi, together.
The pan is hot and ready.

I am aging. I am of age.

I hide the spatula once again. He can no longer use it on me.
I know better. I know where to hide, to hide it, to hide me.
Of all my lust trapped in this kitchen, my hair will not be pulled.
When I burn the biryani or over-salt the kebabs, his mirchi fingers become a fist.

I have wisdom. I am ready.

Bruises are never black, my mother reminds me.
Bruises are sometimes blue, my father tells me.
The tandoor is not in use anymore, my heart knows this.
The bleeding stopped last year when the sweating never ended.

I will not mourn any more lost babies.

Bleeding lip and turmeric to hide the scars, my grandmother once told me.
I have no fresh cumin anymore. Rancid zeera, no flavour, just blackish seeds in a jar.
With my throbbing chest, with my breasts, I feel.
I will not be torn anymore.

I am aging. I am of age.

Rub the mango. I share the seeds. Grind it fresh, for my daughter and her daughter.
Garam Masala in the rogan josh.
He bites and eats and savours it and is pleased. Satiation.
He will not complain about it anymore.

I have aged.

Behind the Door

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The ache wakes her,
her breasts so hard and tender.
Something wrong with the nipples.
How they pull inside her
when she’s cold
like fists.

If it isn’t breasts, it’s hips.
Femurs lengthen in the dark hours.
At times, she limps.
The socket
no longer fits.

Legs so long, she sees
into the eyes of the elders,
combs hair across her face.

Tears and blood,
she hadn’t asked for this.
Childbody lost
as if the fairies came in her sleep.
Left her with this stranger.

At night, when bones grow,
when fur spreads
like moss over crevices,
when secrets bleed
into sheets, she presses
an edge, just here,
sharp, against
her own absence.

Rose by Larissa Monique Hauck

Scars / Murmur

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scars silence blood
shut up leaks and spills
stitch seams on skin
where none should be

scars silence blood
open up floods
of stories
word rivers, pouring out
from throat, bird voice
melody, telling and retelling
events that skin carries
in hues that pale away
until barely seen
which does not mean
invisible, does not mean
there is nothing to see
does not mean
repair occurred

Except That It Clearly Isn’t by Monica Lacey


In the dark of my heart
a murmur
flaccid valve
cannot quite close
instead invites
rebel rivulets of blood
to flow back into eddies
that draw quick funnels
where meaning sinks.

A valve; mouth
unfamiliar with silence
leaks secret mumblings
into absent ears.

The first one who heard the murmur said
Did you know?
You have a murmur
Said it not like
you have a nose, a voice
two legs, two clavicles

but like, you have extra toes
a tail or gills

I hear, you don’t speak loud enough
you murmur

You may grow out of it.

And own a silent heart?
Inside my noisy interior
lives another body dialect
that I add
to my personal nomenclature
of internal sensations
—aches, grumbles, pushes
caresses, flashes of colour
buzzing ears, crackling bursts—
that I capture
into defective word boxes
where meaning may sprout.

With my mind, I see
the murmur curl like smoke
black ink coils
spelling o and c and e
but never l or k or f
language of fluid forms
and sounds like whoosh
sibilant, round and patient
talking in vain if I don’t listen.

This little valve works hard.
How many times is perseverance
how many fall into perseveration?

Blame the valve, they say, it is weak.
We’d replace it if it was really bad.
You’re not really bad though

The valve is, then I am, not really bad.

Yet I, owner of the murmuring valve
—not on an automatic system—
have power to draw the uneasy line
between enough and one more time.

At every heart beat
a delinquent pool of blood lingers
a stray rivulet stumbles back inside
audible. I promise to myself
to listen more.