Breathless-Erich Michaels

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You left the room

The vacuum you created

Has me raking at my throat

I frantically try to draw in air

I look around and it seems

I’m the only one struggling

The only one who even noticed

That you’ve gone

My hand reaches out

To your point of egress

And all I feel is bitter cold

Biting at my fingertips

I’m losing consciousness

My outstretched hand falls

My now limp arm lies next to me

The warm impression you left

In the couch cushion

Is felt by the back of my hand

Then the smallest of streams of air

Finds purchase in my throat


Erich Michaels describes himself as  “just trying to share the human experience.”  He has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but find himself writing SOPs (lather, rinse, repeat) in order to make a living, which can be detrimental to the creative process.  You can find him on the road to recovery at Erich Michaels.  Every journey begins with a single step, right?

Ibuprofen- Nicholas Gagnier/FVR Publishing

You were twenty-three when we met, rebel of unrefined rhetoric.

I was twenty-six, what a perfect age to be. Idealism wasn’t dead and I could still make you love me for all these ideas which had yet to erode the fantasy.

You were twenty-five when I proposed, wearing plainclothes in a parking lot, where I once asked you for a smoke and hoped you’d nod, but didn’t expect such conversation.

I was twenty-eight and a fortnight when I asked your father, the warmest that relationship ever got.

Because we bonded over daughters,
I tried to be what I was not.

Imagined family and futures,
not this animosity, but then,

there were fewer signs.

Epiphanies haunt me in kind; there is no more normal than there ever was strange, and beautiful things begin the way they eventually wane; as products of their time.

Inevitability has a shelf life, yet this expiry is mine.

So I’ll lie to myself that this glass of whiskey helps, and true, it might alleviate this madness ’til the bottle’s empty or first light tomorrow, but this sorrow weighs upon my tongue like ibuprofen.

Some part of me is broken and I’ll use its shards to borrow years ’til I go bankrupt on self-doubt and counting pills, trying to find the magic in waking up without you.

It’s the falling asleep that kills me.


Nicholas Gagnier is a Canadian writer and poet, and the creator of Free Verse Revolution. He has published several poetry books, as well as a novella releasing this July. Nicholas supports and engages in conversations around mental health and social welfare, preferring strong literary voices and self-expression to traditional narrative and poetry. He lives in Ottawa with his young daughter, where he runs FVR Publishing and works on a million projects at once.

Nicole Lyons Book Review of Composition of a Woman by Christine Ray

I was thrilled when the brilliant Christine Ray of Brave and Reckless asked me to read and review an advanced copy of her debut collection, ‘Composition of a Woman’, and let me tell you guys, you are going to want to mark your calendars for its July 31st release date! This book is fire, unbridled, out of control, glorious fire!

Composition Of A Woman - Christine E Ray - CS.indd

Cover Design by Mitch Green


Christine Ray’s debut collection ‘Composition of a Woman’ is an extraordinary glimpse into the essence of what it takes to make, and sometimes simultaneously break, a woman as strikingly powerful as she is beautiful.

Christine Ray brilliantly split ‘Composition’ into five thoughtful sections that work together beautifully to deliver the maximum impact of each poem while taking the reader deeper into a stunning journey of the mind, the body, the very soul of this person. In Composition, Christine Ray reveals so much of what we try to hide, and she does so while dancing between ruthlessly beautiful and heartbreakingly painful.

While Ray’s work is often merciless in its unapologetic, in-your-face delivery

the mean girls smelled
like cruelty mixed with uncertainty
disdain peppered with insecurity
ravenous hunger and envy
(What Little Girls Are Made Of)

it is never short of exquisite

she brings black roses
and moonlight
fireflies like stars in her sky
bare feet caress the dewy ground
night blooming jasmine
reaching up to brush her opal skin
(Black Roses and Moonlight)

nor is it ever lacking in white-hot power

I will travel the ancient ways
clothed only in my dark tresses
my alabaster skin
don a crown of rose and poppy
their scent filling the air
I will take back this night
shape its darkness with my hands
make it blaze with stars and moonlight
create a road for my daughters and sisters
to follow home
(Lilith)

Christine Ray holds nothing back when she writes about the pain of depression and a failing body. She is raw and unashamed when she speaks to sexuality and the way society still reeks of misogyny and the absence of humanity. But at her very best she is empowering, speaking to the brave and reckless women who she lovingly refers to as sisters.

‘Composition’ is a beautiful book that takes the time to acknowledge that while some of the weight we carry through life may not be ours to carry, sometimes carrying it is just as important as knowing when to let it all go.

Find more of Christine’s work, and the work of those she champions at:

Whisper and the Roar
Blood Into Ink
Sudden Denouement
Indie Blu(e)

Sudden Denouement Publishing has definitely picked another winner with Christine Ray!


Nicole Lyons is a force of nature disguised as a writer, a social activist, a voice for the downtrodden, and a powerful poet with a delicate touch. She is a best selling published author, poet, and also a consulting editor for Sudden Denouement.

Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews Composition of a Woman by Christine E. Ray

Poet Christine Ray’s first printed collection of poetry, Composition of a Woman (Sudden Denouement Press, 2018) is a striking, fearless foray into the psyche of womanhood, both highly relatable and intensely personal for female readers and achingly candid and fascinating for male.

Ray has already struck her mark as a writer of substance with her blog, Brave & Reckless and her involvement in the literary collective Sudden Denouement, but the bringing together of a cherished portion of her work on the subject of the feminine experience, is a special treat, enabling us to appreciate her breadth of understanding and the humor and tragedy behind the female.

From the very first poem, in her trademark fashion, Ray describes modern womanhood thus; “there is an unknown thief/black-clad/masked vigilante/stealing into my nights”  (The Body Politic). In many ways this is a canvas upon which she has illustrated pockets of life in such ways  “I am afraid/of disintegration” “I am routinely pricked with pins” (Vibrational Sensory Loss) most of us have felt this way in today’s world because of chronic illness and/or stress or loss of identity and voicing those emotions is both necessary and difficult, something Ray excels at.

Additionally this is the language of love gained and lost, thwarted and found, destroyed and remembered in a fantastical landscape. “symmetrical patterns/ captured briefly in the mirror/ before the spin of the wheel/ pulled us apart / leaving our jewel tone edges / aching from separation.” (Kaleidoscope) In this, the book has a lovely balance between literal and metaphysical suffering as well as being a testimony of a woman’s walk through life, and her ability to survive the un-survivable.

Ray’s distinctiveness comes from her inability to turn away from truth, her proffered confessional, and the blunt, often beautifully crafted mélange of accents, emotions and voices that spill from her depths.  “I have been waking / in one of two states / words pulling at me/ rousing me/ demanding.” (Brilliant Madness) . Her voice is one many of us have heard at night, and been pulled toward, before holding onto a fragment come morning, she is at once, impossible to quantify and disarmingly real, her charm is in the rendering of a universal experience of life.  “there is a point / where the pain starts / radiates out/ in a geometric/ arc / compresses / folds / reconfigures me / like an open fan.” (Accordion Folds).

The purpose of poetry is surely to form impressions of emotions hard to give words to. The poet is a painter of lives, the reader finds themselves in those shades and it is that recognized quill and truism that draws us to the poetic form, so immediate and unadulterated beyond the confines of prose. “how many empty shapes/ have been etched on my soul / like shadow / like negatives of photographs / from those who have been torn away.” (Loss is an Ocean). Therefore when a poet can become the photo album for a life time or a gender, they have successfully translated our unsaid experience, which is what Composition of a Woman does uncannily well. “I arise something new / wipe the blood from my mouth / spread fledgling wings / and with the lift of the north wind / I claim the night sky / mine.” (Raven).

Christine Ray is woman poet of today’s arrhythmic heartbeat, her transformation from within to without is best described in her poem Becoming a Poet, conveying how; “she was always struck by the juxtaposition / of her physical body / negotiating / close suburbs, …. while her heart and mind / wandered in the isolated wilderness / while errant words and wisps of dreams / and drops of feelings like rich, red blood / continued to seep out of her.” For so long, woman’s voices were repressed, by others, by themselves, by the system. Poets like Ray are the new generation, they’re not keeping quiet, they’re dragging by the neck all that hasn’t been said, all that is labeled shameful, and opening the cage doors. After all, freedom is found in truth.

Composition of a Woman will be released by Sudden Denouement Publishing on Tuesday, July 31st.  It will be available on Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon Europe and other major retailers.


Daquin’s own life, traveling from her native France, via England, Canada and finally the US, has brought a myriad of experiences that others have often been able to tap into via her writing. A collection of lives really, and with this, she tries to weave greater meaning through poetry and touch those who experience similar questions, doubts, and hopes. Surely this is what writing attempts in its very human form?

Daquin’s themes include feminism in its complex, everyday form, and the experience of being a woman, a gay woman, a bi-racial woman, a bi-cultural woman and finally, a Jewish woman of Egyptian extraction (Mizrahi) and how this sits with the world’s current revolt between the dominant faiths.

You can read more of her writing at The Feathered Sleep.

pendulous plumes- Max Meunier

solitude sleeps
at a slow summer’s wallow

in madness
I muster

to miss you

will lost,

summoned chimes

in the clasp
of our past imposition

we splayed

into static imposters

what life is
in laughter

when farewells are left

and release
rends
but loose-leaded contrivance

returned
us to dust

swept

and rebelled

as the sun swore its vestigeof vengeance

the west burned

to weakness
before we could leave

sable clouds came
to wrest

and I
in this clement

caressed none


Max states: “I write about the things going on in my life. I am a feminist, humanist, cat loving musician bound by whimsy and the incessant analysis of hyper-vigilant observations. I am obsessed with words and rhythmically woven wordplay.” We are honored to have him as a member of our tribe. He writes at Max Or Not

Broken- 1 Wise-Woman

Clouds smother hopeful horizon

I hear the thunder

See the lightening

Made of metal

Struck too many times

Fractured and cracked wide open

Can’t hold it together

All that’s left is

Constant rumbling in my chest

Spreading out

Stealing gravity

Reverse vacuum

Lifetime spent scrambling to

Pick up the pieces

I’m a tin can

A sham

Jagged and sharp

Cheap

Incomplete

Nothing in the right place

Can’t make sense of

Any of this

Bereft

Stumbling round

Blind and deaf

Shock me outta this state

Restart my heart

 

 

[1Wise-Woman: “I am living, fighting, and thriving with mental illness and chronic disease and a need to express myself. Writing eases some of the weight I carry.” When she isn’t yanking shadowy strands of leathery clumps of unconscious, and tenderly placing them into word documents, she is creating at A Lion Sleeps in the Heart of the Brave.]

This is how I Think of you now- Georgia Park

The funeral procession that blocks my line of traffic
on a sunday morning is easy to dismiss
until i start thinking,
maybe it’s you they’re carrying

 
I live right by an Irish funeral home
I see people dressed in black
coming out of it on occasion
and I look to see
if they’re your friends
I look for any spark
of recognition

 
How long has it been
i wonder
since you were dead to me
i do the math
that part is easy

 
but then i get to wondering
how happy or sad
it would make me
and the line of traffic
might as well be on a weekday
for how much it disrupts me


Georgia Park is the creator of Private Bad Thoughts, curator of Whisper and the Roar a feminist literary collective, and a writer for Sudden Denouement. She is a wonderful poet with an enormous heart. We can’t imagine this journey without her. Please check out more of her wonderful work.