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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press


By: Joanna Kurimsky


the thing about women and clubbing is

the thing about dancing in a circle

the fire is where everything starts

the thing about war is

sometimes your shoe is a weapon

the thing is

about women

is that you can’t even go to the grocery store

without having to defend yourself in some way

the thing is

you don’t even notice anymore

it’s not like being clubbed over the head

the thing is

it is


she set sail with seven men

a famously stormy channel

the sailboat is still missing

no survivor or plank of wood

has ever been found

the robe burned across her callused palms

each fiber a stinging knife

she thinks only that

she should have said all of me

when asked

she should have said

it takes a big mouth to swallow a sailboat whole

when the boat capsized

she didn’t scream

she didn’t pray

she only held the rope

and burned


my heart hurts.

in tide pools

my creatures

collect gold rings

and copper pennies

sunglasses, cellphones

heartbreaks, wishes

piles of treasure and failure

hoarded in a dripping cave

i deserve everything that comes to me.


Joanna Kurimsky is originally from New Jersey, where, despite the proximity of the sea, she experienced over a decade of writer’s block. She currently finds herself unblocked in Portland, Oregon and recently, her poem 'Pocket Meditation' was accepted for publication in the online literary journal, theSame.

“This poem was written in 2015. Each part appeared to me as a different girl, or girls. They rose up in front of me like characters in a dream, and I hope that readers will be able to spot the ones I missed.

Part I was somewhat inspired by this stand-up comedian I had heard telling a joke about how women often dance in a circle when out at a club. I wanted to comment on the divide between men’s awareness of women and the protective behaviors that women perform - that they MUST perform, to protect themselves and each other from men. Some are learned and some are instinctive - primal, even - which caused the connection between “clubbing” and “being clubbed over the head” to be made.

Part 2 began with a true story I heard about a sailboat that disappeared off the coast of Australia, but shaped by the possible story of the girl who holds the rope. She may have gone down with the ship or she may have been responsible for sinking it. The girl could even be the sea. An inescapable maelstrom full of injustice and rage and desire for revenge.

Part 3 is more personal to me. I saw the resentment and loneliness of a woman who has isolated herself as a result of fear. I saw the girl who couldn’t get her words out in Part 1, and the girl in Part 2 who sunk the ship full of men. I saw also a sea-witch, like Grendel’s mother, a literary character who, even in high school, struck me as fascinating and heartbreaking and overlooked. She is both bitter and somewhat satisfied, but I think she wards against isolation."


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