Poem Suite: Things – The Feminist Wire

Poem Suite: Things

In our Poem Suites, we bring together the voices of emerging and established poets exploring a common theme. In today’s Poem Suite, four poets consider the world of objects and materiality, and the place of “things” in the landscape of the imaginary.



“You Call It Desire, I Call It Sin”

By Elisabeth Houston


It is hairy and black. Furry. Stalactite-starred and many fingered. Angry. Furious, in fact. Mother grabs a whip to try and tame it. She calls it The Second Goddamn Coming of Christ Almighty but we don’t know what it is. We don’t know if it’s some kind of substrata of Genus found in a yellowed copy of Darwin’s The Origin of Species in the back corner of the Dayton Public Library. We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, young or old, gay or straight, good or bad. It contracts and expands and occasionally explodes and finds itself scattered in pieces on the floor. One minute later its on the couch. Then perched on the ceiling fan. Then sitting near a stack of magazines on the coffee table in the living room. Stay there. Just a second. Stay there. Don’t move, Buster. I’m not going to hurt you.





Red Truck  

By M.E. Riley


Girl in woods

that July 29th

all along Bayou Meto


one hundred men watching

one hundred eyes of black-eyed peas

from their porcelain bowl


browned pines

crinkled over fire


wheels, the oil of them

puddles flashed from truck’s

body to sky


Mile by mile of bayou she drove –

families’ RVs

dogs pissing


a red, red truck

a small rain

hand out the window

a river


Fisherman waved and asked her the time

the time as if her console worked


His stares turned into lye;

she asked why do you look at me?


His mouth open black

no white tooth speckle

says A pretty girl shouldn’t be here on her birthday






Fragments, after Emma Colón

By Clara Younge


Amiss in winter morning, hollow sorrow. Shallow shadow’s night before, before her womb-bound moonbeams – silver sister danced like wakeless ravens. Flick rib to wrist, trill winter. She grieved the bass as only a stranger could. Plain stranger in the northern morning, she asks, tell me your nebula. Tell me of your mother’s daughter, up & under, post-oppressive lover. Leave your fortune on the porch with evenly spaced sisters. Elope and open, choking. Pass absurd. Abused, a trombone and a tricycle in silver slipping snow.



The Purse I Carry   

By Carol Smallwood


is drying after being washed

and this is what it carries:


*Right Side Pocket


Leather wallet, coin pocket taped

.    from my husband before he left

3 keys attached with wide red ribbon

.    from a Christmas wreath

A quilting piece from a favorite aunt

.    who read to me

One of John Galsworthy’s books


*Middle Pocket


5 empty Kroger shopping bags

.    to use at Sav a Lot

Yellow napkins from Wendy’s

.    to use anywhere

White napkins from McDonald’s


*Middle Zipper Pocket


Small plastic container with lid

.   for rescuing small things

Several covered toothpicks

.   to use lunching out

A rubber band from somewhere

.   in case I need it

A safety pin (closed)


*Left Pocket


Plastic baby carrot bag

.    to carry daily pills

Orange case for sunglasses

.    for driving

Retractable black pen

.    to capture words

Coupons from Wendy’s

.    for $1 off combo meals

Small Tupperware party case

.    for Merle Norman face cream

Flash drive the shape of lipstick

.    in case my house burns

Notes from Trauma and Recovery

.    by Judith Herman, M.D.

Used copy paper cut in half


(First appeared in Forge, Spring 2012)




130123_Radin_138_lo-res High School Class Photo Los ResElisabeth Houston was born and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts. She received her bachelors degree from Yale University and her MFA in Poetry from Boston University. Her favorite feminist superhero is Shirley Chisholm.




Raised in New Jersey and currently living in Minneapolis, Clara Younge works year-round as a pastry chef and September through 556780_10151334970810861_46337009_n-1June as a middle school math tutor. Her poetry has been published in Chanter, Macalester College’s literary magazine, and she won the college’s Cultural House Poetry Slam in 2010. In 2012 she was awarded the Harry Sherman Writing Award for poetry by Macalester’s English department. Clara is an alumn of the Voices at VONA writing workshop.


2013-05-30 13.40.39M.E. Riley sweats in New Orleans.  She is an Assistant Poetry Editor for Bayou Magazine, as well as a regular contributor to Bayou’s blog.  Work has appeared in Nude Bruce Review, Eunoia Review, Belle Journal, and Tales from the South VI, among others.


csmallwoodCarol Smallwood’s books include Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching, foreword by Molly Peacock (McFarland, 2012) on Poets & Writers Magazine list of Best Books for Writers; Women Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing (Key Publishing House, 2012); Compartments: Poems on Nature, Femininity, and Other Realms (Anaphora Literary Press, 2011). Carol has founded, supports humane societies.