Friday, March 31, 2017

National Women's Month: Part 5 of the Five-Part Collaboration between Artist AJ Meier Welch and Marie C Lecrivain

“We Won't Stay Silent, and We Are Watching You (9 x12) from the series “Drawings of a Mad Saleswoman”© 2017 AJ Meier Welch, watercolor ink and pen on Bristol paper

After AJ Meier Welch's "We Won't Stay Silent, and We Are Watching You"

It was a glorious day filled with hopes, dreams,
and voices ringing with protests and songs,
a day where women of all stripes came together
with purpose,and pink pussy hats to dissolve
the boundaries of race, class, and ideological fallacies,
and to fill the space where they're needed most.

It was a day I could only celebrate on the periphery,
through social media snapshots of my friends carrying signs,
and their children upon their shoulders, in DC, Paris,
Los Angeles, and, amazingly, Antartica, where pink hats
kept cold ears warm, and hearts burning with enthusiasm.

It was a day that bound the better half of humanity
into a common promise; to take back the future,
be better to one another, and to keep marching
until the last oppressor's message is ground
to dust beneath the majesty of our feet.

© 2017 marie c lecrivain

Thursday, March 30, 2017

National Women's Month: Amelie Frank's prose poem "Emblems of Conduct"

(for Adele Slaughter)

“It was just the two of us, surrounded by staggering beauty.”--Claudia Handler
Here is the deal, Alma.  We won’t speak the names out loud. We will whisper them to each other when the time comes. Your job is to keep me from becoming sidetracked by my humor. My job is to speak the truth to you, to assure you that what you suffered from was neurasthenia, a nonsense disease ascribed to bright girls from whom the wrong things were expected and to whom the right things were denied.  Nobody suffered as much at the hands of small-town doctors as the bright girls did, Alma.  You were far more observant than you were ever given credit for, and like every small-town Cassandra, you were ball-and-chained to a nonsense disease.  No wonder the girl you were had to burn away entirely that harsh summer in order for you to survive.  Me, I burned for nearly thirty summers, twenty-five before I even realized that I was on fire.  I know that seems like a lot of time to you, but your lifespan is a two-act play.  I have been around for fifty-six years.  It took a long time for the good, sweet girl in me to evaporate.

Alright, Alma.  Now you whisper the name of your crucible boy to me, and I will whisper the name of my crucible boy to you.

(Listen.) (Whisper.)

Give me your hand, Alma.  You loved him more than any cool drink of water, any slice of frosted cake, any burst of your favorite color, any perfect day, any song hummed to you by your mother before she lost her marbles, any handkerchief redolent of your favorite sachet, any moment that your father told you he was proud of you, any archangel, any notion of perfection and the hereafter precisely because that boy was who he was.  He was a sharp boy, a hungry boy, and you understood him.  He was an imperfect thing, an arrow whose trajectory was well off the mark, but you loved him for who he was, and in the most secret cache of your heart, that was plenty enough for you, for the girl you were before summer burned away the anima of Alma.  On the surface, you seemed to have become carnal, selfish, perhaps even cynical. People are so quick to ascribe bitterness to maturity.  They mistake the slow pace of recovery for lassitude and indolence. But the truth of the matter is that you saved your most secret self, and you began to feed her.  And that was an absolute good.  We cannot feed love to others if we are not first fed ourselves.

So tell me, Alma.  What is the name of your new love?  And I will tell you mine.

(Listen.) (Whisper.)

I crossed a contested borderline in order to be with mine, Alma.  There are those who would judge me for the choice I made, including myself before my many summers of immolation.  But the days of Thermidor have tempered both of us, and I suddenly found the muscle to step over the line when love was offered to me for the first time in twenty-one years. I know, I know. That’s a lot of two-act plays.  And I know, that’s my humor cropping up again.  Forgive me.  I had to be fifty-six years old before a man looked at me and told me I was beautiful.  I had to be fifty-six years old before a man said, “I have fallen in love with you, Amélie.” And he said it first.  And I was so tired of being The Brokenhearted Girl that you, more than anyone, can understand why I had to step over to the side where he stood.  As with you, summer had to end for me some time.  It is a day-to-day thing with my new love.  And it is not in any way ideal.  But someone holds my hand, just as I am now holding yours, and someone thinks about me and misses me, just as that handsome stranger outside the casino is surely thinking about you.  You understand love better than most, Alma.  Don’t let any academic knothead tell you otherwise.  Oh, you see?  I made you laugh.  Good for me.  Good for you.  Conduct yourself with a heart full of love, Girlfriend.  Display no colors, no adornments but your own.  There is no sin in knowing better. There is no sin in survival.

© 2017 Amelie Frank

Los Angeles native Amélie Frank has authored five poetry collections, including Doing Time on Planet Billy Bob (Inevitable Press). Her work has appeared in numerous local, national, and international publications, including Art/Life, Lummox Journal, poeticdiversity (which nominated her for the 2016 Pushcart Prize), Blue Arc West, Sparring with Beatnik Ghosts, Levure Litérraire, Edgar Allan Poet, Cultural Weekly, and Wide Awake. Co-founder of the Sacred Beverage Press, she produced the acclaimed literary journal Blue Satellite.  She has been honored by Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, the City of Venice, and the City of Los Angeles for her activism and leadership in the Southern California poetry community.  She earned her degree in Creative Writing at U.C. Irvine and has served as a curator and trustee with Beyond Baroque, the Newer Poets Series, and the Valley Contemporary Poets. Nowadays, she is all about resistance, chocolate almond milk, Creepypastas, and being in love.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

National Women's Month: Part Four in the Five-Part Collaboration between AJ Meier Welch and Marie C Lecrivain

What” (9 x12) from the series “Drawings of a Mad Saleswoman”© 2017 AJ Meier Welch, watercolor ink and pen on Bristol paper

After AJ Meier Welch’s “What?”

(dedicated to Eric Arthur Blair)

We’re all born with the same question;
What?, (usually followed by why?),
into a world full of questions
asked by others who have access
to a handful of hard-won truths,
and volumes of fables renamed history.

We all have a list of unanswered questions
that plague us in our deepest moments
of despair, startled awake at 4 am,
bathed in angry sweat and tears,
and we ask ourselves:
What happened?
What did I do?
What have I become?

We can grieve the loss of
the best part of ourselves,
the child of wonder we all once were,
tucked away in the most careful
and protected part of the soul,
surrounded by as many questions
as there are leaves on the trees of eternity


we can become that child again

© 2017 marie c lecrivain

Saturday, March 25, 2017

National Women's Month: Part Three in a Five-Part Collaboration between AJ Meier Welch and Marie C Lecrivain

ONE DROP from the series “Drawings of a Mad Saleswoman”© 2017 AJ Meier Welch, watercolor pen, colored marker, and ink on Bristol paper.

After AJ Meier Welch’s “One Drop”

I never liked the little girl I was,
always being told to stay quiet,
be good, don’t talk back
to strangers who called
my stories lies, and who
never understood the gift
of being born one’s own muse.

I wish I’d grown up in a world
where my tales were lauded
by my peers, and where my poems
could burst forth into starry blossoms  
like those on the almond tree
in my backyard every spring.

Instead, I took refuge in other stories,
and added bits to my dark garden,
where they germinated in silence.
I gave birth to awkward poems
and shared these imperfect creations,
fervid, and on the defense against
other wordsmiths and bards
who welcomed me as one
of their own, not realising,
until, one day, when a fledgling
came into our circle with a notebook
clutched tightly to her chest, and
eyes lit with a defiant hope,
that was once me… and that
we’re all links in a chain
that leads back to Mother Muse,
each of us born from a single
perfect tear dropped into
the maelstrom of the world.

© 2017 marie c lecrivain

Friday, March 24, 2017

National Women's Month: Leanne M Berry's essay "My Husband Became My Wife"

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
     I am married to a transgendered  woman who is literally feminizing her body. She started hormones, and is looking forward to and apprehensive about other changes that are forthcoming.
     Truth is, so am I. People are constantly asking me how I feel about the fact that I married a man who is now identified as a woman. My standard answer is, “I married the person. I’m in love with her and I’m so happy she has the courage to be herself.” All of that is true. But there are other parts of me that I don’t let come to the surface of my consciousness for any more that a few seconds. I briefly realize that I am not dealing with the change. Then I do my trick of compartmentalization (one that gets me in trouble because I am so good at it). I shove any confused or negative feelings out of my conscious mind.  I have not been ready to seriously address these emotions and thoughts related to her change. I’m going to take you for a trip on the way the journey began, and how it has evolved to today’s issues.
     When I was introduced to Ordo Templi Orientis, on my first mass I met a woman whom I realized that was not biologically female. I honestly did not know what to think. I had never even spoken with anyone who is trans. It felt weird, and I started to judge until I realized that it is not in my nature to dislike or fear others who are “different.” Furthermore, she was extremely inviting and cordial, helping to make my first encounter with an OTO mass a very positive one. I felt a bit guilty for my judgmental initial impression.
     I soon found out that there were other people in the Order that were also trans. I told myself that each was a unique and beautiful person and that gender identification is not the most important aspect of who they really are. It does not define them.
     When I first met my wife, she was a man. She was very androgynous, which is something I have been attracted to for as long as I can remember. We began dating and  one day of my asking out of curiosity if she had a dress or skirt she could put on. Not only did she put one on for me, but she immediately began using her feminine attributes, not displaying her fiery masculine part of her Aries nature. I admit, I was surprised to realize that this was arousing for me.
     Another chapter of our  journey had just begun.
     Over the span of a couple of years, two main things happened: she started looking more feminine on her own, and I vehemently encouraged her to dress as she truly wanted to, not obsessing on how she thinks others will perceive her. One momentous evening I told her that she must wear a dress or skirt to work the next day. It was hard for her, and I admire her ability to face her fears so that she could be herself. I encouraged her to express herself in a more womanly fashion. I did this more frequently after she told me that unequivocally if given the opportunity to press a button and instantly become a woman, she would.
     Part of what was happening, though, was that I was not addressing my feelings about the issue. I considered my feelings were secondary, knowing that we would end up fine, and that this wasn’t about me.
     I will never forget the day that it dawned on me that people will think I’m a lesbian. I don’t mind entirely. I’ve always considered myself to be a bisexual woman who had previously had several sexual encounters with women, but never a romantic relationship. I realized that that title bothered me a little and then I thought to myself that it really does not matter what people think of me and that I don’t have any negative feelings toward anyone for being a lesbian., It’s just a label, and in my case, not necessarily an accurate one. I’m quirky and strong-willed and people have generally always seen me as “different.” The truth is that I am still somewhere between caring and not caring about  being defined in that way. Part of me is still a little apprehensive about being seen as a lesbian.
     Part of me occasionally fears for Cathy’s safety in a world where people actually care where someone uses the restroom. Part of me also worries about my own safety, mostly a fear of emotional attack and judgment, but and knows that either of us may be in danger of the hatefulness of others. Will we be safe? It is my duty to protect her from those who would mock, judge, or even physically harm her. I feel little worry for my safety, but in some less open-minded places,  about hers. We live in a liberal area, but what if she has to travel to North Carolina? I could never step back and not defend her until my dying breath.
     Next major milestone occurred two nights before 2015 ended. He and I got a little tipsy,and both of us admitted it was time we did what we needed to do for ourselves; I was to go back to graduate school and he would decide by his birthday in April what he was going to do moving forward on the gender transformation. Both of us would seek assistance in therapy. I distinctly remember telling the man who was then Craig  that he knew deep down what he was going to do, but that it was prudent to explore and make certain that this is what he wanted; it would be a scary process, but it had to be done. forward to today. I just completed my graduate-level certification in Applied Behavior Analysis and she is called Cathy. I am starting a new job in my field, and she has started hormones. She has a list of steps she is going to take to make it official. I would say that on that fateful night, our worlds would be turned upside down, as often happens when magicians make decisions.
     People are always asking me how I feel about what’s happening in my life in relation to Cathy’s eventual gender reassignment surgery, and I give them the pat answer stated above. But my therapist, the woman who calls me on my B.S., got really stern with me when she asked me the same question and got that answer. She got upset, stating that she knows that I have feelings I’m not dealing with. I have used being busy with school and being in leadership in OTO as convenient ways to divert my attention.The closest I get to dealing with is was to admit that I’m not dealing with it realistically. I have not brought the issue up with my therapist since that time. I would like to talk to someone about it, but truth be told, I haven’t spend enough time figuring out how I feel. I just know that I have mixed feelings. I really want Cathy to be herself and to realize her life-long dream to become a woman, and at the same time, want things to be “normal” again.
     But how do I feel? I honestly can say that 75% is happy for her. There’s that 25% of me, though, that is confused and does not know how to express itself. That is because there are not yet words to describe how I feel.  In many ways, I don’t want to know how I really feel. Deep down, I have a fear that I might have an issue that needs to be resolved. Maybe I’m not the open, liberal sort of woman that I’ve always purported myself to be. I don’t think it’s true, but I remember how I felt before I became friends with and dated a trans individual, how I thought it was “weird” and did not understand what it might feel like to be born in the wrong body.

     No matter what, love wins. The person I married is my best friend, my lover, and is the world to me. She has treated me with more respect than my insecure self has ever received. I used to fight her attempts to make me feel loved, safe, and secure, and I still do at times, but in general, I know better. We have good communication, and we have never in almost nine years called each other names or gotten into a screaming match.
     I am aware that I still need to think about this further. I need to analyze that 25%. I was hoping that it would all be resolved by writing this paper, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t. I am hoping, however, that those who may be in a similar situation will get comfort from reading this, and that those who don’t understand will get a better grasp of what it’s like for the person you marry to completely change themselves, even if it is to become their authentic selves.
     I firmly believe that  she has the bravery of more than most people on this planet, and I’m proud to be married to her. I need to join her and be brave as a team.  I love the person I married with all my heart, and I am confident that I will slowly deal with this on a deeper level. We both will be true to ourselves, and love and respect will prevail.
Love is the law, love under will.
Leanne M. Berry
March, 2017

Leanne Berry feels as though she has incarnated to love, to heal, to laugh, and to assist others in maximizing their potentials to live happy and healthy lives. These qualities are manifested in her daily life. She works as a therapist, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis and focusing primarily in Autism services. She is actively involved in leadership in Ordo Templi Orientis, a fraternal organization that welcomes diversity, and is an ordained Priestess of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, regularly serving as priestess or deacon in the OTO Gnostic Mass. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife, Cathy, and their cat, Kether.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

National Women's Month: The Artwork of Sondra L Scott

artwork © 2017 Sondra L Scott

Sondra L Scott is a Ceremonialist, Pries­tess, Yogini, & Artist. She’s a Mystic a­nd a Magickian, For the better part of t­hree decades she has dedicated herself t­o the study and practice of Eastern and ­Western philosophy, magic, and religion.­ Obtaining ordination in the Ecclesia Gno­stica Catholica and certification as a y­oga therapist with specializations in So­und & Gong artistry, and Vedic philosoph­y. Utilizing experiences with different ­schools of Magic and Esoteric science sh­e offers us a chance to see our inherent­ power to “Cause change to occur in conf­ormity with Will;” unlocking the power t­o create magical lives.

For more information/to purchase Sondra's paintings and other esoteric/magickal handcrafted goods, visit her shop 7 Magi.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

National Women's Month: #2 of a Five-Part Collaboration Between AJ Meier Welch and Marie C Lercrivain

45 Bye-Bye from the series “Drawings of a Mad Saleswoman”© 2017 AJ Meier Welch, watercolor ink and pen on Bristol paper

After AJ Meier Welch's 45 Bye-Bye

Tears… blood… sweat… urine...
drops of matter engendered
by millions of mothers, daughters,
aunts, sisters, and friends who saw
their hopes and dreams washed down
the drain the day you ascended
the world stage. You swore to
represent us, the ones you regard
as nothing more than pretty faces
in a crowd, and pointed your index fingers
at us pistols loaded with evil intent.

What do you know of suffering,
privation, or of sacrificing
the last shard of self
to make a future for the ones
you love? You, who are steeped
in gold-plated privilege and
prestige you never earned?

What do you know of success,
which, for many of us,
includes holding your head high,
and accepting failure with grace?

What will happen the day
you look up into the sky
as the reign of womanhood
pours over you, a rising tide
whose bitter waters
will fill your mouth and ears
with the sound of silent sorrow?

Will it be enough
to stop your heart?

Will it be enough?

© 2017 marie c lecrivain

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

National Women's Month: Puma Perl's poem "What in the World"


(once again, RK and David Bowie)

What in the world can i do?
My shoes are still untied.
I trip into people’s lives
and out again,
intimacy as random
as a taxi cab.

I am a broken basket.
Don’t put your eggs in me.

Like Bowie’s girl,
I prefer to stay in my room,
and my eyes are gray.

It is always sometimes,
never forever.

My hands are not my hands.
They tell their own stories
in street Spanish,
sign language.

A knife in the park
A fall on a Central Park rock
An open artery

The right one,
evenly tanned.

On the left,
a ring made from a fork.

It won’t come off.
I don’t remember
where I got it
or how it wrapped
itself around me.

I don’t remember
names, places, birthdays
or my babies’ first words.

I remember this morning.

Keys on the coffee table,
English muffin,
butter melting,
hot cup in the car,
Lou Reed, Sweet Jane,
Chinese proverbs.

Lives saved like pennies,
collected and spent.

I made a pact to live
until i die by hands
other than my own.

So what in the world can i do?

© puma perl, 2017

Puma Perl is a performer, producer, and a widely published poet/writer. She’s the author of two chapbooks, Belinda and Her Friends and Ruby True, and two full-length collections, knuckle tattoos and Retrograde. As Puma Perl and Friends, she performs with some of NYC’s best musicians and merges poetry with rock n roll. She is a regular contributor to The Villager. Puma is a recipient of a 2016 Acker Award in the category of writing, and a 2015 New York Press Association Award in recognition of her journalism.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

National Women's Month: A Five Part Collaboration between AJ Meier Welch and Marie C Lecrivain

Sad Monday People from the series “Drawings of a Mad Saleswoman”, © 2017 AJ Meier Welch (7 x 10 ink on bristol paper).

After AJ Meier Welch’s “Sad Monday People”

One day, I may write you a letter.
And maybe, you’ll do the same,
mailed from the other side of nowhere,
passed through endless machines
and many hands, until one day,
we both arrive to our homes,
sore and bone tired with nothing
to look forward to except piles
of dirty laundry and dishes, dust balls
and a tall monolith of overdue bills,
seated like a judge on the kitchen table.

One day, I’ll find your letter to me,
and hopefully, you’ll find my epistle to you
at the bottom of that stack. We’ll carefully
pick up the other’s missive, and ponder
the grimy edges, the stamp overlaid by
a bulky bureaucratic seal, and a heel mark
on the lower left hand corner from where
the mail carrier trampled it in the rain.

We’ll hold each other’s gift in our hands,
breath caught in our throats,
and smile quietly at the miracle
of one woman reaching out to another,
as we weave ourselves into
the tapestry of quiet endless voices
who sing of sisterhood in the dark.

© 2017 marie c lecrivain

     AJ Meier Welch is a writer with a MA in Literature and Literary Theory from NYU, a photographer, and self-taught artist. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her family. For information/or purchase, you can find her work on FB, and Instagram at drawing_daisies_and_dogs
     AJMW: "As a writer, I used painting to escape from writing. By arranging sequences of colors in varying sized, complex patterns, I found an easability of expression that I had yet to acheive through the written word. Later, abandoning patterns, I moved to a free expression of color through instinctual relationships. What I explore in my work are these relationships. Through painting, I connect at a root level with the purest stimulant for emotions and feeling: color. I believe very strongly that colors and color combinations are deeply embedded in the human psyche as part of our emotional response mechanism. My study of color blended with my natural inclination to shapes and lines - I wondered how I could create depth when I'm at ease. My latest series has been going for almost two years and is titled "Drawings of a Mad Saleswoman." My photography allows me to create emotion without words. I love being behind the lens. "