Tag Archives: history


When Heather was a little girl, her mother took her to nurse a witch doctress in a nearby village. Heather would not have known who this woman was except for the whispers of the working girls in her house; for Heather’s mother said nothing as she walked determinedly through the arid street, Heather’s hand clasped firmly between her cool fingers against the dusty African air.

Heather’s curiosity toward this strange woman grew, for Heather learned from the working girls that this woman was not only a witch doctress but had an infamous reputation as a great seductress who had been the lover of many great men. Heather wondered why her mother would choose to help such a woman, but the intricasies of her parents long ago ceased to be a source of consistent perplexity to Heather. She did not question but obeyed.

Inside the hut Heather worked quietly beside her mother, but was startled in the few moments when the doctress suddenly slipped to consciousness. During these moments the woman stared piercingly at Heather, and seemed not to perceive any other person in the room. Heather trembled, for in her childhood she still sensed a strong and frightening connection between herself and the older woman; something great and terrible in this look that she could not understand.

The witch doctress died that night, and when Heather tottered home beside her mother the sky was very grey.

Heather forgot the witch doctress until ten years later, in her first semester studying at Emmanuel University. At that time the Emmanuel church received a visitor, a woman famous in its circles for her Biblical studies but greatly controversial due to her pastoring her own church.

Heather watched the woman wonderingly, but felt a strange sensation when the woman’s gaze turned to her and seemed to pierce into her soul. The frightening sensation sparked some memory of repetition that Heather could not quite explain.

It was not until Heather lay in bed that evening that she connected the woman pastor’s look and it’s strange sensation to the look of the woman in Africa. Just as she was drifting to slumber the connection came to her, and she knew in her last minutes of consciousness that the looks were the same.


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w Chopin.

w Chopin

He smiled on you in his youth

So thin, pale, effeminate.

Blending in with your blanched and bleaching city.

But you remember him so well,

Dropping his name

When you drink at guest parties

Smiling or smirking

Your back straightens a bit.

You put his statue in your square,

Broader and straighter, I think, than he really was.

But that was how you saw him.

His songs were so quiet

You mention them so loud.

He left when you were free, and when you fell in bondage

He did not return to you.

Pari, Pari. There he drank wine

There he made love,

There he tasted the sordid, sweet delights you could not give.

(Pari is full of color,

And you are full of shade.)

You were Maria Wodzinska

Pari his George Sand.

Il ne jamais fait l’amour a vous.

Do you think his mind there was on you, Warsawa?

The prodigal son

Who never returned.

Warsawa, Warsawa,

Why do you cling to him

Who left you so young?

And you have nothing to claim

But his minuets.


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Hitler’s descendents

He seemed an ordinary man, I think,

So silent and still across the street.

German, I was sure, and his name I was sure

Was changed from Holges or Heines

To the less offensive “Heller.

I was rather in love with him, though he never saw,

Or seemed to, and was so comparatively old.

He and his brothers (there were no girls)

Had never married.

It seemed a shame, I thought,

To let that line die out.

Because he never saw me, he would never know

That we too had changed our names.

“Pessler” became “Parker”

And was written above our door

Next to our American Flag.

He had no name above his door,

But an American Flag was there,

Almost blushing, I used to think.

(How silly that is.)

How glad we are,

I am quite sure,

To live right here

(The home of the free.)

I only wish that when he came

Outside, he would once look at me.

(He never seems to look at me.)

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The Comfort Women

“The whole village came out because my mother was crying so hard . . . she cut up the cotton and linen fabrics she had been saving for my wedding.

And she made me new clothes.”

by Oak-ryun Park (1919)

1. Incantation One: The smiling girls

We are the smiling girls

We are the kind girls

Smirking we spin

With dizzy delight

Softly we fall

And stare at the light

(Cover our eyes

For it is too bright)

Surrounded by flowers

So purple and grey

(Blooming for hours)

We hide them away

Inside our pockets

With brimming delight

As softly we giggle

Afloat like a kite

For all is set right

We are the smiling girls.

We are the kind girls.

(Blessed mothers, hear our prayers

Hide us from the evil stares

Help us grow with shrinking cares

Blessed mothers, hear our prayers.)

 2. Incantation 2: The taken girls

like Philamel, so rudely forced.

“Our flowers have fallen

And we have no light.

We are the pulled girls

We are the torn girls

Ripped from the fields

We clung to the earth

Begging for mercy

A shallow rebirth

But there was none; our fingers stained with grass.

Our tongues were cut because we cried

Our bodies burned by blood and lice

There is no light but we cover our eyes

We have no hands to cover our eyes

We have no eyes to shield from the darkness



Try to cover our eyes

We kicked, they cut our feet

We bit, they broke our teeth

Blinded and bloody we lay at their feet

We are the pulled girls, we are the torn girls.

(Mothers, mothers, hear ours creams

Save us from the bloody beams

Bleeding from our broken dreams

Mothers, mothers, hear our screams)

3. Incantation 3: The shamed girls.

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.(ELiot)

(Turn us purple, turn us red

Give us sheets to hide our heads

Bless the dying, envy dead,

Turn us purple, turn us red.)

We are the shamed girls

We are the cut girls

Buried we lie

In layers of black

Briefly we breathe

A bloody attack

Open and buried


But always come back

Mothers! Mothers! Hear our cry

We are the

Can you see us where we lie?

Shamed girls

Mothers mothers

We cannot lift

Can you hear us

Our hands our eyes

Can you see us

Are gone

Mothers mothers

We cannot lift

Can you

Our eyes is there

Hear us

A place for us

Just any place


(Mothers, mothers, take our souls

Offered from damnation’s bowls

While we writhe among the coals

Mothers, mothers, take our souls)

 4. Incantation4: The comforted girls

Our flowers have blossomed

And they will not die.

We are the comforted girls.

We are the peaceful girls

Hidden away

From darkness and pain

Washed and renewed

And cleansed from our shame

We have a voice

We are the comforted girls

Our mothers

(Listen now)

Are here

We watch you from high

Our daughters

 (Listen now)

are near

We shift and we sigh

(we are so proud)

Nothing can hurt us)

Listen now.

recovered from pain

No one desert us


Now we have a voice.

We are the comforted girls.

We are the peaceful girls.

Daughters, daughters, each December

Think of us, you should remember.

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By the twitching of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes.


2. Cleopatra

Cleopatra, shining bright

Shiver, shiver in the light

Babalonic, touch your hair

Subtle goddess, supple sight.

Cleopatra, do they stare?

Crystal ball, dynamic pair.

Quelle a flickered in your eyes?

Dripping, drinking, drunk despair.

Cleopatra, do they sigh?

Moan and murmur, cut and cry?

Liver, lover, lashes cold

Twitching touches, lowered eyes.

Cleopatra, worship gold

Egypt’s blanket, baked and sold

Slipping silver, sell your soul

Faustus whispers, “never old.”

Cleopatra has the hole

Black and burning, dismal, dole

Ankles locking, fingers fold

Hollow love, complete and cold.

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