samantha wallen

Samantha Wallen, MFA is a poet, steam-punk time traveler, writer, and book coach who uniquely combines three elements: writing, the practice of looking deeply, and the desire to be fully expressed. Her work has most recently appeared in Urban HowlBombay Gin and 100 Naked Words. She is the Founder of Write In Power, which is a growing movement of conscious people who commit to writing into the core wounds and brilliance of their lives in order to claim fundamental value, live in abiding self-trust, AND create a book! She lives in Mill Valley, CA with her family and is currently developing a program on awakening Authentic Activism through writing.


into folds this body

i want to write of membranes

go a little further into plural

genitalia and attend to the places

i feel scared

she comes down. she comes down.

she charges down.

i want to attend to multiple

answers multiple questions

what kind of sex do i want to have

what kind of sex do i

want perhaps to enter a bacterial rug

and you see that’s the thing

this em-power-men-t

this resurrection mimics 

an erection so that when i move with her

i pennetrate her space with heterosexual arms

conceal and perform suicides

i gather his dream repeated

i repeat his dream gathered

in a moving train i hold a tiny metal

sink while he fucks me from behind

i like it like it like it so much that i continue

the bend and forget this cavity no longer

knows the pleasure of its own touch 

she spreads out. she spreads out. 

she crawls out.

i want to write about the break

what i must do with the charred parts

how i will not ask what he can bear

deliberate rocks i weep buffalo skulls

the shape of marbled continents

atmosphere of poison is my next breath

she has sex organs more or less.

she has sex organs. she has sex

organs everywhere.

i want to write of madness

how mother has become

a pearl necklace strung against

monster teeth to hum a baby dream

in matricide where she remains dry

she cries. she cries

i want to write supple disturbances

how i will lick gin off the blade

lodge rotting roses in my sacred

alter agape with the gestation of what

i must conceive

sick green walls the color of

hospital rooms the color of mother

skin in the dying how i went to sleep

alone in the fragrance of her red hat

afterward she walks faster. she is frightened.

i want to write of membranes

the seams between plates

i write about Nabito

something about her body my body

her small village in eastern Congo

my medium rare options

her lack of choice

all eight machine guns

how her arm dangles at her elbow

how mine reaches from my waist

how her son came out of her

how he was forced as an act of war

to reenter her

how our suture reclaims a crack

a recovery of interruption

she says something. it is not.

it is no longer

identical with what she means.

i write passages

sanded and stained into guttural 

rings that speak mother tongue

with blood and patience i discover

sensation in cultivated wood

she is contiguous. she is unbroken sequence.

Nabito says

 “i want to be a woman again”

Who is Responsible for the Suffering of Your Mother?


“Who is responsible for the suffering of your mother?”

—Bhanu Kapil, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers


i.    Great Great Grandmother

Jessie Snyder

The silence surrounds her. A character of fiction, her name rises with a tide of words—do you know her name and place of birth? A walk along the jagged shoreline she wades through the debris to re-member. Her molten liquid churns, solidifies into moments—rivulets of memory that trickle down her legs and mark the smiles of daughters. A mermaid ascending the depths of the ocean, her song is carried in blood caressing skin the color of coagulated terror. She sits at the kitchen table never knowing what is shaped by the trembling of her hands.








ii.   Great Grandmother

Ida Miller

She stirs oatmeal, struggles against its thick pull and watches bubbles rise to the surface and shatter into indistinguishable patterns.  The wooden spoon in her hands seeks gooey clumps and breaks them apart. Her thoughts wander the white walls of the kitchen and come to rest on the tepid skin of her daughter—Marjorie—a woman, a mother now buried in the ground—sickness had pulsed in her blood, collected in her lung chambers and suffocated her life. The doctor had told her daughter not to have another child. He’d told her that pregnancy would exacerbate the clotting.

She turns toward the little girl who now sits at the kitchen table—stubborn and trembling under the brown paper bag which covers her face and hides her refusal to eat the oatmeal—and moves in swiftly, bringing the wooden spoon down upon those tiny knuckles over and over until a barely audible “Nonie please!” appeases her.  








iii. Grandmother

Marjorie Anne Miller

A there-not-there image of a woman. Olive skin, ebony curls, horn-rimmed glasses, a ruby clot lodged in her lung. A body culled from sepia photographs and the tender wreckage of memory. Her name—Marjorie—forbidden by the husband widowed to a hole deeper than love. The smell of gin and loving his daughters/her daughters with fist and belt. She lives in the quiet spaces, the red, green, yellow, blue, not quite black flowering of a bruise. Tender sprouting under the surface of the skin.

She is an empty chair at the kitchen table.  








iv.   Mother

Tedra Lou Buckmaster

She remembers sitting on the edge of the white bed, the lace curtains blowing in the afternoon wind. She remembers the touch of mother combing her little girl hair. She remembers the coffin being in the living room for days and the green hue of her mother’s dress. She remembers playing under the dark wood, talking to her, waiting for her to wake up. She remembers how she forgot her mother’s name, her smell, her face. She remembers not liking oatmeal. She remembers being rolled up in Nonie’s Oriental rug when she tracked mud. She remembers the way it held her and suffocated her with dust. She remembers the smell of gin and the sound of a belt buckle undone. She remembers the spinning-sparkling toy she hid in the closet to light the way when she was locked in. She remembers how she wasn’t allowed to speak of the dying. To speak of the day the blood stopped. She remembers the cry of splintered angels inside her own blood, coagulating into a legacy as if it were a miracle. She remembers to gather her own blood, the coagulations of mother. She remembers her promise to discover something different. She remembers leaving the table. She remembers to carry this sickness and live.








v.    Daughter

Samantha Andrea Wallen

That is what she wants. The poem of the mother so she can hear her own story and remember another. To beckon this line of descent, hiss and call for the first mother. Set this hunger down and dance supple with animal drippings red and raging.  How she transcribes this madness. Remnants of angels whispering the assignment of death repeated in cycles. Wrapped in language longing language. She is a witness to the death of the pollinators. The place we strive for—a flower collecting its own residue, dusting her own swollen need to be alive. To build again. She breaks through the cotton chafing and binding of contained history and is called forth into the visible world never black and blue or with a memory of green. Never lost in the nip and tuck of total body manipulation renovation jubilation of the same old thing—in the pain in denial in control. She has been ordained by the ordinary, extracted potent liquids from living in the mundane. The sun goes down.

She takes her seat at the kitchen table.

She lets this bag of longings go.

Only the pollen hears the sound.