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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers



Your winsome smile will be your sure protection.”

Actually, it was the thing that got me molested.
My looks; my eyes, my smile- my big, big, juvenile smile.
My lashes, my lips – taken for a girl by most.
No matter how stupidly my father cut my hair,
he couldn’t shave those eyelashes
or dial down that smile.

His was a whole head smile. One paternally large mug. 
A real grinning ass.
It would leap out at you and instantly cover his face.
A flashy enamel calling card. 
A big, jolly, people magnet. 

His smile drew them in too.

He gave me to keep a version of that smile,
underneath my model mother’s eyes and lashes.
You didn’t have a chance against the combination.

YOU couldn’t get enough of it – you would take chances at school,
pulling me inside the coal shed on my way off the soccer pitch.
That dark Victorian room, lumps of unused summer coal
piled in the corner like installation art.
Every breath you took, explosive.
And everywhere you turned would leave a black smudge.

Like the more permanent blot you left on me.

Under the right factors of heat and pressure coal reveals the diamond.
Your sooty hands didn’t leave any hard mental diamonds shining in me,
just the cracked and fragmented matrix where I pushed those lumps of coal
deeper and deeper inside of me, like the slow growing tumours they were.

"Fortune" is a poem that came out of a NY Writer's Coalition related writing workshop I'm doing that is both a literary workshop and a space for survivors of sexual abuse who want to explore themes of memory writing as a potential healing tool.  This exercise, like other exercises we do, was 20 minutes of writing in response to (in this case) being given a fortune cookie and asked to open and write about the fortune inside.  This text is exactly what came out of those 20 minutes with virtually no changes or additions;  only some minor editing and correcting.

Tea Served

Mom was genetically
predisposed to drink
every day,
at 4pm.
No clock needed.

Tea and biscuits.

The kind of biscuits
I wouldn’t touch
unless every other
sweet thing in the house
had been obliterated.

I didn’t understand the ritual pleasure
she derived each day,
no matter the occasion,
year, or season, but

the way to her heart was through a filtered bag.

I turn my adult nose up now
at my wife’s morning coffee,
only Breakfast tea for me please;
So dignified.

So civilized.
Despite the trail of hemorrhaging,
and strangled bags
you left for dead
everywhere you went.

So, creamy tea was
one of the two legacies
you left for me.
That, and getting up
early Greenwich Mean Time
every July
to watch the
Ladies Wimbledon Final.

My first serve?
Is now a pot of tea.
My backhand?
One of your biscuits.

Matthew Lee Bain's poetry has appeared in The Missing Fez, Penny Dreadful, Haz Mat Review, Children, Churches, and Daddies, Experimental Forest, Nomad’s Choir, Matchbook, The Nocturnal Lyric, Scavenger’s Newsletter, and The Storyteller. His short fiction has been published in Happy, Art:Mag, Outer Darkness, Liquid Ohio, 2001 Killer Frog Contest (1st place in short story category), Dark Moon Rising, and a four-piece series in Black Petals Magazine. I am also currently a column writer for Circle Magazine.

Copyright 2006, Matthew Lee Bain. © This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws.
It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.