Ah, to Be King! by Imogen Arate

If I assure a frantic conductor “everything’ll be okay”

while shoveling coal into the roaring firebox 

of a momentous train

Will you crown me

What if I wave the flag of a freedom-fighter

and shout slogans from mothers charged 

with unsought fruits

Will you crown me

No silk nor muslin shall muzzle this trap 

while I stump on fracturing nerves

for god-given rights Of course

Now crown me

A rollercoaster must go down to shoot up

So find your own seat belt while I buckle up

as we chug toward that gaping ravine

You’ll thank me

after we Thelma & Louise to a higher calling

sans a Thelma or a Louise Not even a Wilma

or a Betty ‘cause 72 virgins await

Oops wrong orthodoxy

I’ll never admit in public but we share interests

Oh they allow vaccines Never mind

More gold-dust stars for me

to adorn my crown

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A Rose For Emily* by Hannah Robinson-Wright

Lame laboured Woman – who broke you?
The weight of life hangs from you.
Dead or Alive – who are we to know?
In truth, she had died many years ago.
She was eight – I am sure –
Or nine, or ten?
It was far in the past, it was way back when –
Tomorrow was a prospect
A journey unknown.
Before she was silenced,
And chained to her home.
All the dreams she once had,
All hope and ambition.
Gone with the wind, she squints through blurred vision.
She is the one! The thirteenth woman*.
She talks to the walls, but the ghosts never listen.

Ring out your tissues, don’t cry over me.
Pray for your daughters –
They will never be free.

*A reference to William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily (1930)
*A reference to The Thirteenth Woman (1976) by Lydia Davis

Baby Says Bye by Hannah Robinson-Wright

My first memory –
I am drowning.
I am under blue waves,
Reaching out for legs and toes.
They kick me –
They push me under.
Still –
I am drowning away.

Sinking sinking.
I reach for the ladder.
Stretching stretching.
Though my hand
never quite grasps it.
Drowning still.
Deeper now.

The legs dance above me,
though I cannot join the fun.
Kicking and swaying.
Meanwhile, I inhale the chlorine.
My eyes burst with crimson.
My lungs flood.

My first memory –
I am drowning.
And I have been
forevermore.

There’s Peace in Prosperity by Hannah Robinson-Wright

This is the mantra:
‘For when I retire’
A house overseas,
A cottage in a shire.
A bucket list to conquer,
Filled with things the eye must see.
A hopeless believer,
As gullible as you or me.
For now, you are useful – they’ll take you for all you’ve got.
When old bones go brittle,
They’ll say you’ve had your lot.

But you are the lucky one,
For you got to see.
The years I spent preparing
for something that never came for me.