by Eurydice Eve
Body & Bed (From a collection of works)
Where I come from there’s no nice word for this size of gargantuan hunger & for the shameless bulimic behavior. it brings out a little girl like me who was raised by a good family like mine. Bulimia is a Greek word that refers to eating everything in sight. Nothing about purging in the toilet bowl is ever inferred. So when my pretty skinny ladylike mom left the table & sat hugging the toilet I had no name for it except she had a stomach ache sth she ate upset her stomach.
We are in the midst of a slow simmering female revolution. From allegations against studio heads and journalists, to hotel maids recounting abuses on the job, women are exposing the truth and men are losing their jobs. But the revolution whose third wave this is has been too selective. The men passing me in the street who devour my little body with their eyes as I walk the dogs, the waiters who wink with their arms invisible laden with piled up dishes of multilayered food like towers of talismans against greed, the construction workers up in unseen rafters/ who catcall as I pass by the urine smelling site walking over rubble getting smacked by torn ad banners in the ocean breeze, the bikers veering too close to the dogs & me as we cross the one way avenue revving so loudly my nerves jump & my eyes turn to see their exhausts spew fire inches from my legs, the breathless runners on the boardwalk who stop to chat me up & get my number, the feral cat feeders on the boardwalk who talk cat rescue with me & ask for my number, the guys who ogle when I pass the guys who stare when other guys offer to buy me a drink the guys who walk behind me but do not pass me the guys who I can imagine are following me home the predators the perverts the hungry beasts the ones who have nothing to lose the ones whose appetite I know too well, my brothers in hell, the anonymous strangers whose gaze rapes us every day, what do we do about them? Do we out them? Do we make sure they lose their measly jobs? Do we confront them, one on one in a dark alley on the way to the dog park? The drivers who honk & when they catch my passing gaze as I drive by in my lane stick out their from tongue & lick the air between their open point & index fingers like it’s a pussy, do we look away, avert & move on? & what do we do about own own hunger that never subsides or gets satiated, that gets louder the more it gets fed or ignored, our hunger to take it all back in between our legs & say, crawl back inside, you, you’re wanted, you are loved, relax, don’t ache. What the fuck do we do with all that? How do we handle the personal daily one on one energies?
In every one of us a demon lies hidden. Intimacy cuddling coming are the only things that keep my demons quiet & at rest. I’ve tried everything, prayer alone & in groups chanting yoga running.
Some nights in the heat of the bed
everything that I am cries out
for pleasure and pain like a church bell
whose peals call the faithful to worship.
I call my inner concerted pang
the growing hunger inside my every part
my appetite for everything.
It turns me on to resist & control it.
Men say even God likes to be desired
like a teenage virgin just on the verge
of opening for the first time dressed
like a slut to own her new curves
like a clean-cut southern belle
splaying her oiled shiny labia
on a glossy page in playboy.
Others would say I should dress modestly & walk with my head down & my hips stiff as fear & all in all display no confidence no joy not the bliss of being alive in this beautiful world but fear, display fear, one of the faculties I constitutionally lack. But I have tried all that. When I was raped, I was wearing a second-hand fluffy coat that went to my knees & snow boots & pants. I was walking in a hurry in the cold from the aMTrak station to my uncle’s house in Rye Westchester where I was staying because I couldn't afford a dorm at NYU. The rapists were a gang of boys also overdressed in sweaters & coats. I hadn't seen them because I was walking with my head down against the howling wind thinking of how much I hated looking after my uncle’s toddler kids like an au pair. I doubt my hips swiveled in their usual Anna Karina way because I was feeling like a gladiator about to walk into the ring of domestic fights that did not involve me & I was feeling dejected after coming down from the social high at school to middle class bourgeois tedium & I was freezing cold. I first made eye contact with my attacker when I felt his arms push me off balance & down against the uphill sidewalk concrete on a shady spot where the shaft of electric light from above was broken by a low hanging weeping-like tree misformed by the wind & its DNA. So I have proof, based on incidents too numerous to recount, of my body, all 5 ft & 95 lbs of it, being buried under clothes or other types of camouflage & mounds of disinterest & yet being coveted, hollered at, chased, grabbed, lifted, stripped, kept hostage, & not let go of by acquaintances & strangers alike for decades.
Because my heart always beats with hunger but I hide it, because hunger possesses me like a body-wide alarm that does not vary its intensity but I hide it, because my body pounds desire along with blood like the city that never sleeps but I hide it, because my gaze is prowling & I hide it; & because I spend the rest of the night eating my anger at having to hide & at hiding to no effect till I lie on the tiled floor unable to breathe & passing out. I eat not for pleasure but to turn my hunger into oversatiety & let my wounded overwhelmed body sort through it all, digest it all, heal itself, keep busy till the next gorge so I can keep hiding. Of course I’d rather be sleeping than bingeing. But the upside is, when I stay awake, I don’t have to dream of being chased by those who desire me against my desires & by my desires that I dare not express because I’ll likely get raped again.
Am I complicit in the serial public verbal pickups?
Only by being (in) my (poor) body.
Do I get turned on?
In the street? No. I’m on alert instead.
Never have I masturbated thinking of that.
Is it a reaffirmation of me? Is it flattering at all?
In the street? No! No!
Do I pimp my own body by the way I dress?
In the street? No.
In my bedroom yes.
In my bedroom I objectify myself to get turned on
That’s how I was trained. I have the male gaze.
There’s no other way to gaze & desire.
My Teacher in 8th grade wooing me promising to marry me & a 10 12 yr old boy cutting my name on his arm, what did they teach me? I didn’t even have a period then. They taught me I was prey.
Is Weinstein worse than most? How guiltier is he? He’s an addict is the only difference.
The power is the high for the male.
The power to possess me. To break down my will, turn my No to a Yes. Even though I haven’t changed my No to Yes in decades.
I walk the dogs every night & on every block a guy will say you’re pretty or a stream of Spanish verbiage that sounds like it should be accompanied by guitars will aurally assault me
& threaten me. I run to go back in, to hide.
We are on one level all a single cell organism. The female body is our shared fetish.
The street assault isn’t casual. It’s invasive. Yes just like a rape. It’s not a sexual Namaste.
The sexual part in me recognizes & bows to the sexual part in you. Wouldn’t that be nice? A bow. Hands on the third eye. A bow & a downward gaze & stillness. That would be a dream man.
by Jahaira Rios Campos y Gálvez
edited by Beláxis Buil
A few years ago I took an action I often neglected very seriously: walking. I decided to consider it during a long walk with some time to reflect. I’m not sure if it was necessarily on that day I chose to take it seriously or if it was that I consciously asked myself- ‘Why do I walk'? I had to lay out those reasons and based on those reasons decide if my question was worth making a commitment. So I did. I decided to make a serious commitment to walking.
My resolution was: first, I'd walk for my health, second, for the love of my battered knees (and occasionally inflamed heels), and finally, as a way to honor my family. To this day my battered knees (and inflamed heels) serve as a painful reminder of wrongfully running on pavement nor understanding the concept of form for athletes. On top of all that there’s the many years of dancing on concrete floors (because I’d practice in the back room of my church with a hard concrete floor). There wasn’t an appropriate room where I could practice. It was all cold, hard concrete flooring- not even an inch of carpet was to be found. So, I beat my knees (and heels) pretty bad. But now I try giving my lower extremities the love they so deserve.
Then when I was a very young child I was told that I had ‘ugly’ feet- and because my feet were so ‘ugly’ I wouldn't be able to wear sandals. And maybe (just maybe) I would need surgery to correct my ‘unsightly’ curved big toe problem: because after all, as a woman I should not have ‘ugly’ feet. I don’t know why but between God’s compassionate grace and my inclination to prove others wrong, I pushed all the negative comments away. Thankfully my resiliency helped me to not become psychologically scarred or affected by any of the negative comments I received as a child. Today I wear sandals to let my feet walk in their natural glory (letting the whole world see and know that they have arrived!). Despite what was said, I encouraged myself to display the lovely shape and dexterity of my feet. And yes!- I am one of those individuals that can pick up all kinds of oddities with my feet. SOOO!- yes, my feet kind of look like hands. Anyone who is put off by that can just stare at them a little longer!
Another reason I chose to walk is to not use my car unnecessarily. It seems that Miami's lifestyle culture and city planning infrastructure can influence us into thinking ‘it's way too hot’ to walk a few blocks to the market. Realizing that these points of view are so different than the views my family has back home (in Nicaragua), only gave my reason to walk more value. I think of my family back home as the real seeds that planted and nourished my love for walking. I have moments where I envision my grandmother walking through towns to get some milk or pick up some detergent for the clothes she used to hand wash in her pila. The people in town paid for her laundry service. She’d walk long distances just to pick up items for work. I also picture my cousins visiting the town plaza to play in the evening, or simply venture out on a walk to the plaza just to spend time with other family members. Their lives were free and mobile, unlike my sentiments about freedom and mobility in Miami. Walking in my family’s hometown was an activity used to connect with others. It was social and signified a way to connect with family (and others) in a way that went beyond the way I think of it in a big city. Just thinking about how far my family lived from an ‘ideal’ urban setting (not as privileged or convenient as to my own location) means so much when I realize the great distances they walked every time they needed something, had to go to work, or wanted to have fun. Now when I take a walk I imagine my whole family joining me. And during these walks I pray for their well-being, that their basic needs be met- and acknowledge my privilege when I look up and see my ‘North Star’. I mean, how lucky am I knowing that I can walk a short distance from work to my house to prepare a hand-made tortilla dinner for my family- in no time?
I walk to remember where I came from, where I’ve been, and where I am going. I walk to breath in fresh air, clear out my lungs and welcome in thoughts of new beginnings. I walk to honor my family I left behind in Nicaragua and my ancestors who have walked this earth for many, many generations before myself. I walk to connect with God through nature and enter into one harmonious breath of life: one that surrounds me. I envision myself as an abuela (hopefully, many years from now ) walking to the marketplace to buy some milk. You might see me then, as the abuela wearing a Mayan shawl, a silver braid hanging to my hips or wrapped around my head with my feet girded in sandals (so my feet can get all the attention they want!). I’ll smile all the way to the marketplace knowing that my ancestors- and especially my grandmother- would be proud of me for taking on the tradition of our family’s long walks. And for them, I’ll show my feet, keep my head up high and walk in pure joy.
All photos courtesy the artist, Jahaira Rios Campos y Gálvez
by Jahaira Rios Campos y Gálvez
edited by Fara Greenbaum
I sit up, early, in near darkness. I see subtle flecks of light pouring in through my curtains and I turn to look at the two dark masses next to me in my bed. One large the other a little more than half its size. I listen to the rhythmic exchanges between oxygen and carbon dioxide. I just sit and try to take in as much of what is in my space. The masses begin to turn into the roundness of backs and the gestures of limbs with articulating joints, for me these are endearing sights. Everything I observe brings me to recall events of the past few weeks as I consider the value of what is before me. I recall some of the conversations I've had with my children even before all of the commotion surrounding our everyday functions.
I think to myself…”somehow we must’ve felt it on a spiritual level that this was coming?”
I sit here just trying to take in the dark masses next to me, one is my youngest of four who comes to lay next to me almost every night no matter how many times we move him back to his bed with complaints of varying categories. We've stopped moving him, especially now, since there is a monster lurking about these days -- you may have heard. The other larger mass is my husband. The smaller fitting neatly within the space of the other. Both of them with shaggy hair unkempt, with faces relaxed and aloof of the monster out there. There is enough light in the room now that I notice the red marker lines on my son's face from the night before. It seems he fell asleep drawing. He insists on doing so in his sketchbook as his night time ritual. I'm not sure if it relaxes him or energizes him. What matters is that it keeps him quiet and focused ever since it took the place of reading a book. As the light swells in to show more of my room, my thoughts return to the monster that has already claimed so many peoples loved ones and the reality that it hasn't finished it's rounds. As of yet, as it has been explained by many experts, it will make a couple rounds swallowing other precious lives before we can figure out it's weakness. Once we find that key there has to be an action plan to tackle it but even then when it is subdued we don't really know all the details of what may be of this life we have been used to.
My kids and I used to ask each other if there was a zombie apocalypse where should we go? What should we take? How would we protect ourselves? It was a critical thinking game of sorts that we played. When this monster started going on it's rampage my children did not become visibly anxious, we spoke clearly and calmly with them about how things were going to be for a while, how we would deal with it day to day. Their calmness made me wonder what it was that kept them from panicking. We have heard some parents in our own microcosm share their own children's anxiety in many instances by way of a screen. I came to the conclusion after a conversation with my daughter that it must have been all the zombie what if conversations we previously had. Because of this, the recent events did not seem abrupt to them, they had unknowingly mentally been preparing for this. It seemed to me that somehow in our psyche we knew that someday something this big would happen.Or maybe we are just victims of inception thanks to movies, TV shows and books. Though there are no zombies involved- the loss of life, the danger to one's own life, the supply runs, sheltering in place, even being afraid of interacting with others not a part of your group all sounds like the trappings of a zombie apocalypse show we have watched before. This is what makes our own life experience at this time feel so surreal. Reality that surpasses what you thought could be possible in your own space and time... And I turn my head to look back at the two forms next to me and I listen attentively to their breaths creating a harmony that brings me back here. They bring me back to my small home full of life and grounds me to this patch on the earth. I pay attention to the scuffling that is starting to fill in the spaces of the rest of the house. As I listen, I am filled with gratitude that we can remain safely in this shelter of ours no matter how crowded or cluttered it may get, that we make it through without losing any capacities or anyone along the way as there is still a long way to go. I affix my hope that everytime my husband or I go on supply runs we don't unwittingly lead the monster back to our shelter. I pray we remain vigilant and present and more appreciative than ever before. Even as shelter-in-place orders are lifted, the monster is still roaming......... so I pray.
by Carla Forte
Como mujer latina y artista me gustaría hacer una breve reflexión; mujer, latina, artista; no es acaso un todo lo que me conforma? Tendemos a categorizar, sí!; es una manera de poner cada cosa en su lugar, de entender, entendernos. Pero sí es cierto que esto funciona para las cosas, realmente funciona para nosotros como seres humanos? Como humanidad?
Cada día se abre paso a nuevas etiquetas y de una u otra forma somos nosotros mismos quienes de a poco nos vamos imposibilitando por la edad, el sexo, la raza, la nacionalidad, inclinación sexual. Y a veces me pregunto: Es realmente necesario? Si pudiéramos ver a los otros como un todo, no tendríamos qué hacer ninguna pregunta, no tuviéramos que mentir o mentirnos.
Si a la vista de otros soy mujer, latina y artista, esta condición no me hace distinta a ningún otro ser humano, rescatar el respeto por el todo porque la existencia ha perdido la atención que merece. Tengo la impresión que categorizar nos hace leves y poco a poco anulamos la importancia del ser.
Si usted me preguntara mi inclinación sexual, yo pudiera responderle, muchas o ninguna; pudiera darle un beso, pudiera abrazarlo. Seria usted capaz de percibirlo de esta manera? Menos leve y con más peso, o tendríamos que inventar una certificación y especializar a un grupo de personas que sean capaces de hacerlo? Es posible detectar al ser como un todo? Acaso ya no lo somos?
Hay una búsqueda constante en el poder y el reconocimiento, si tan solo nos viéramos a la cara para descubrirnos en el otro, no harían falta las etiquetas ni los espejos; solo cosecharíamos mas compasión y respeto hacia el otro, los otros, que somos todos.
by Jahaira Rios Campos y Galvez
edited by Global English Editing
The earliest I can remember my mother telling me the stories was when I was between five and six years old. I remember my age because, at the time, we lived in a white house not too far from Ella Boulevard in Houston, Texas. It was the house I lived in when I began kindergarten. It was where Hurricane Alice knocked down a pecan tree in the front yard. I was lying in bed with her, in the dark as we often did at bedtime. My father wasn’t home, which was common on weekends, so we spent a lot of time alone going to Mexican movie theaters and watching Cantinflas or La India Maria movies. We would lie in bed and stare at the walls as shadows made by the streetlights danced opposite us. That’s how I remember hearing about Los duendes, El cadejo blanco, El cadejo negro, La llorona, La Sucia, La Segua, and so many others. In my culture, it seems the first folktales we hear tend to be scary ones. Maybe it’s something that the colonizing Spaniards left us mestizo children as an inheritance.
As I listened to my mother’s stories, I quickly learned the morals were usually centered around being good children and obeying your parents. In my five-year-old mind, I knew it was important to be “good”. However, when I contemplated the plight of those affected by these spectral characters, one of the tales that often struck a chord with me was the case of La Segua. She was a woman, as many of these spirits are, and was very beautiful. Her unsuspecting targets were men who would become enchanted by her from behind, when they could only see her long dark hair flowing down her back. Only later would they see her true form when they approached her in an attempt to seduce her. Her dark hair helped to hide her true face: that of a horse-like creature. It was characteristic of her to taunt these men with a song as they discovered her hidden form. The song she would sing stuck in my memory: toma tut eta que soy tu nana, toma tu teta que soy tu nana… “Take your breast for I am your momma, take your breast for I am your momma.” The rhythm of those words would play over and over in my head, and I could almost see it in my mind’s eye as she would approach the man she was about to have her way with, and not in the way he may have hoped.
When I saw the face of the man in my imagination, it was always the face of my father. Since her victims were said to be children and men that were up to no good, I figured I was safe—she had no reason to come after me, because I was a good girl. My father, however, was another case entirely. The men La Segua targeted were out late instead of being at home with their wives and children. I wondered if she would go after him. I wondered what she would do to him. I wondered if I would miss him or would we finally be free to breathe calmly. He wasn’t a bad man, he just walked around with his machismo preceding him. That was the basis of La Segua going after these men, wasn’t it? Those that went around letting their machismo think for them were the ones that headed towards an unknown, possibly deadly fate. I wondered what life would be like if she would do us such a favor. Maybe he would escape her claws and come back home a different sort of man—a man that would come home after work and tell me stories, just like my mother did. Maybe he would realize that we were worth living for. Could she have the power to change him? The story of La Segua was meant not only to keep children in line, it was also meant to work on husbands who spent too much time out drinking, especially as this was so common and culturally acceptable when I was a child. It is a wonder that there was not much of an effect on the men. Maybe the effect wore off.
Maybe La Segua was a made-up story, but I could still hear her singing back then, and I can still hear her now in the voice of my mother: toma tu teta que soy tu nana, toma tu teta que soy tu nana. Incredibly, La Segua may have finally tracked my father down. It’s been a while since I’ve seen or heard from him. There are comments from family about where he may be, or who he might be with. My mother tells me she has seen his spectral figure on the bus a few times, laughing. She’s seen him across the street looking at her. She wonders if he sees her and she covers her face in order to not be recognized. My mother still tells me stories, but they are different now. They are stories about seeing my father.
These days, I turn my thoughts towards La Segua in an attempt to analyze these stories. What made her so hideous? What made her turn into this creature that would go looking for children and men in the dark of night? Of course, I was a little girl when I first heard about her, and it would be a while before I was able to realize the darker connotations of her story. She was a woman turned monster, but how? What did she lose? What was she seeking revenge for? Did her husband leave her and her children to tell stories alone at night? Did she lose her mind because of the pain inflicted upon her? The five-year-old child inside of me thinks she is looking for someone that was not there to tell her stories, someone who took her for granted and preferred life away from home. Maybe she is looking to bring home someone that reminds her of her father?