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Women Write Resistance

Kathleen Aguero


She surfaced from Poseidon's rape alone
but for Athena plaiting snakes into her hair.
Who wouldn't want a face that turns a man to stone?

The most beautiful of three sisters turned
Gorgon, yet feeling human pain, there
in the temple where she fought alone.

Out of pride Perseus brought her snake head home,
wedding present for an exiled mother who, in despair,
needed a face to turn her consort into stone.

Think how the Trojan women moaned,
resisted being herded onto nightmare
ships, ravaged by Greeks. Not alone,

their children watching, plotting to be grown
to warriors or stunned by terror of what they'd share
unless they found a face to turn men into stone.

Think of any woman caught in war, in mundane
violence, atoning for her body's flesh and bone
praying only she might wake alone.
Why wouldn't she want a face to turn men into stone?


Kathleen Aguero: "Medusa" from Daughter Of by Kathleen Aguero and published by Cedar Hill Books, © 2005 Kathleen Aguero. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Elliott batTzedek

from Wanting a Gun

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1.   Nothing in the world

There is nothing in the world I want right now so much as a gun. A large gun, a shotgun. A shotgun with a sawed-off barrel, useful only at short range. A shotgun with a sawed-off barrel, useful only at short range but with a spread wide enough to completely destroy a man.

I want a gun, because they have guns. He had guns. Many guns, dozens, in racks and in cases. In racks above the bed, in glass-doored cases across from the bed. Guns you would see from the bed. Guns you couldn't miss seeing from the bed, even with your eyes closed. Even with your eyes blindfolded.

I want a gun, a shotgun with a sawed-off barrel, because he had so many guns, rifles and pistols and revolvers and shotguns, Oh, how he had shotguns—12 gauges and 14s and double barreled and single barreled and over and unders—and his special rifle, a Remington Sweet 16 (you're so sweet, oh sweet he said, stroking both of us, me and the gun).

His guns, his rifles, his Remington, his shotguns, in all their variety. Except a sawed-off short barrel. No short barreled shotgun, the kind that's useful only at short range, the kind that doesn't stop at maiming, the kind that gives a running target a fair chance, any chance.

I want this gun, a sawed-off short barrel shotgun. The kind that is useful only at short range. The kind that cannot maim or hobble. The kind with a spread wide enough to destroy all but the tiniest traces of a target. I want this gun, this sawed-off short barreled shotgun, then I want to stand and command, "Spread'em."

6.   His favorite gun was me

It is easier to program a child than a VCR. Only three steps. Easy, time-tested, ancient, a sure thing.

First, hurt the child. Hurt her a little, hurt her a lot, threaten to do more, things she can't imagine. Since she couldn't have imagined what you've already done, her own fear will now control her. She will blindfold and gag herself.

Second, explain to her over and over how she makes your violence necessary. "If you didn't hate me so much, I wouldn't have to hurt ya. You could be sweet for me. You could make this fun for yourself. But you don't want that, do ya? I know what you're thinking, I can see them eyes. You wanna kill me, so I gotta tie ya down tight. I wouldn't have to hurt ya near so bad if you'd just be sweet for me."

Third, turn her anger against her. Take your gun, polish off your fingerprints, put it in her hands, tell her it's hers, tell her the gun and her anger are the same thing. "Ya hate me, don't ya. You wanna hurt me, you even wanna kill me. You think you're so high and mighty, don't ya, missy. But you wanna kill me, and that makes you just like me. You are just like me."

Three easy steps, and the prey is maimed and hobbled
and yours for life.
One, two—
the prey will blame herself,
she won't blame you.
One, two, three—
"you're a hunter too
if you hate me."


Elliott batTzedek: "Wanting A Gun" first appeared in Trivia: Voices of Feminism, Issue 6, September 2007.

Ann Bracken

Marital Privilege

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"In thin places, we become our more essential selves."
Eric Weiner, New York Times, March, 2012.

In Ireland they warn of thin places,
places with a sheer veil between this world and the next,
between bliss and despair,
between saved and damned.

In the soft light of a Dublin morning,
I feel my husband's hand
creep under my silk teddy.
I stiffen,
feeling the thud of refusal
over the tingle of yes.

Nudging himself between my thighs,
You know it feels good, he growls.

No, I insist, rolling over,
I hug the far-edge of the bed
not now…

He yanks off my panties,
unlocks my legs with a swift push,
shoves me to my knees.

I brace. Then a hurried
thrust, thrust.
When he's done,

he slaps my ass
and says,
Now, let's go eat.

He whistles in the shower,
I crawl out of bed.
Tug my jeans over shaking legs,
Paste on my smile.

The thin place between love and hate—
I have crossed over.

María Luisa Arroyo

Violent Eruptions

One year after your husband bludgeoned
the back of your head with a shovel
you still call this and his other attacks
volcanic eruptions. You still don't see
that his actions were within his control:
he hid with a shovel behind the maple
in my front yard in the dark
just waiting for our shift to end,
just waiting for you to climb out of my car
and walk up my walk
to what I thought was my safe haven.
I smelled him before I saw him -
piss and sweat and six weeks' worth of rage
that seethed through his pores.
I didn't see him lunge and swing
the shovel at the back of your head -
metal crunching bone -
just like he didn't see me fumble
for my six-week-old gun
and shoot him until
the tiny bullets
pierced him enough
to stop him-
like no restraining order
ever did.

Excerpted from Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013)

➥ Kathleen Aguero Bio

➥ María Luisa Arroyo Bio

➥ Elliott batTzedek Bio

➥ Ann Bracken Bio