Janus Lady – Five


They say that we darken
our hair and eyes
with spells

But I would tell [you] that
it is quite the other way around,
that the hair and eyes came first
before the spelling.

I would tell you that our hair is black
and stronger than any wire with
eating karuvipellai, stripped from
the garden, and coaxed them into
the thickness of our braids,
soaking up the darkness from the leaves
because our grandmothers willed it – which
[I suppose] is a type of magic.

And I would tell (you) that
our eyes, [are] dark
with the balance of the universe,
the distilled debts and broken promises,
made to us  by  men who, [confused],
blended,  compassion with amnesia, crushed
into kohl and that to meet our gaze
is to fall into nothing, [so] most people

(prefer to) talk to us over the phone,
and to talk (only) if they must.

Until they feel the minutes (tremble),
whispering other things
against their eardrums;
(until,) they begin
seeing spring through glass wing
butterflies, and [start] finding
what mirages are (made of), and
how (dust,) sand come to storm

they hang up.

I would tell (you)
that we read people into the future,
write them into the past; we pull the threads of
herstories, through a telephone and [an email],
finding the detail
in needlepoint, in knitting
is a long overlooked skill

I used to do wordsearches with patti,
(eventually) playing Scrabble,
sitting there, on the divan, how many
words could I find in those rows
of scarf she wove, and
we took turns, knitting, and spelling.

I would tell you
that the greatest magic we work
is to (become), unbecome, by weaving
and unravelling
time, and space, and (memory)

that there are sentences lyning
underneath every word we say
like wartime code and witchery.

That wool is to words
what knitting is to poetry.
That a good scarf should work
[for] at least 3 seasons in a year

and a good poem finds at least
3 people tucked inside a body.

They say that [we have], with two mouths,
two tongues, and if not more,
one [of course] for pleasure, one for pain,
a clever tongue, a forked tongue,
a tongue that laughs and moves,
[drifted] through dreams
a tongue that licks wounds
[away,] that what we say,
we say with all of them.

They say women born
under my sign have
at least two faces;
at least, and if not more.

but we are not really women at all.

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Janus Lady – Four


“Will you bring me back?

“State-of-the art models, built to stir
humans, and that had been their sole purpose
until now.”

“Will I come back?”

“Why them?”

“They have an eye for detail;
they are cheaper
to manufacture than LabTek Robots,
and the ones we are sending have already been made –
albeit for a different purpose – but they require only
small modifications
and they are perfect for a preliminary
recon mission of this kind.

“No; this is a one-way trip, we –
look, we talked about this.”

“They consider the safety of…of clients…well,
in this case, obviously, the collective, of humans,
but basically of others’ needs over their own. Just
think: They’re made to be more intuitive,
more adaptable to new environments.

“It’s sacrificial. You are sacrificing us, for what?”

They are curious, adventurous
and can collect information pertaining
to their well being while exercising caution, discretion.
They are excellent communicators. If they
felt love, it would be for words. 

And they are the only robots designed to be as
physiologically and emotionally…human 

– well, as woman,” he said, apologetically, “- as possible

“We’re explorers, and always have been.
You love exploring!”

while still being robot enough to adjust
any physiological parameter as per needed –
and they can send that data back.”

These womandroids,
complete with breasts and waists,
nasolacrimal ducts, and other


“Well, it’s how they’re designed to be, quite simply.
Look, this is a rehashing of history, and we’re not historians;
we’re scientists in a very competitive industry but
after Bill C-36 and its subsequent derivatives,
there has been a real – a real need, and push for such services
by woman-like robots and quite simply,
this seemed to be the most ethical alternative –
and it’s a wholly cost-effective, mutually beneficial, and coincidental
partnernship between our company and, well, NASA. Look, think
of it this way: one small step for GirlsXXX, one giant step for mankind!”

[nervous titters]

They wept when they left, real salt
tears which they had been programmed to produce,
held sometimes by very sad human men, scientists who
made them.

I think they also programmed laughter!

“No, no, they can’t actually feel.
But they simulate feeling well.” 

They did, but after the tears –
shows you their priorities.

No one heard from the ship again; there was
no distress call, no location signal, no
communiqués about new discoveries
and most importantly:

no information feed regarding
the terraformation
capacity of Ganymede.

They called it The Vanishing.

“The distress call must have been faulty.”

“Their information feed was cut off prematurely.”

And the obvious, and most humorous conclusion of all,
transmitted through radio waves,
and heard at the other end of Jupiter,
over roars of laughter and, now

unearthly, cackles, the clinking
of champagne glasses, the swish of siren tails:

“They perished.” 

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Janus Lady – Three


Men gathered in the day,
wrote about possessions and called it love; they said
“We’re a book club”
and a lot of them got published eventually.
They said, “We’re provocative and have new ideas and see the world differently.”

And women wrote secret spells in the night, about passion and heartbreak, 
strength and power and wisdom,  but
the village found them anyway, and said: 
“Truth, poetry, and friendship belong to men. You are a coven of witches and will be treated accordingly.” 

And every single one of them was burned alive. 

This is where the story begins and this is where it
ends, but let me explain a myth:

the ghost did it and
the ghost made me do it are
what all the women said if
they weren’t saying a man did it –

But even in the time of ghosts,
truth and poetry and friendship belonged to men.

She saw them, their caricatured smiles and
empty pretense of love coated with anxiety,
She saw them trusting too easily
falling too willfully,
swallowing untruths whole
and blistering in shame
soon after.

She said “There is always power in names.
so name what has harmed you, find
the anchors in your soul, erase
the lies; and all of them, replace
with yourstories, and above all,

But I wanted it,  they wept.

“You wanted, but not it,” she said, remembering
her own fingers, trembling around a cup of tea,
the way she had stared blankly
looking at her boot prints in March mud, outside, b(e)low away
until her reflection came
smiling through the rain-
streaked window pane,
and spoke to her in the language of glass:

“Be careful with
what you write,
what you say,
and how you say it,
especially to yourselves.”

And some of them listened.

And some of them didn’t.

And some of them said she was not really a woman at all,
but a witch, an animal,  a lunatic, and worst of all:
unloveable by any man.

She laughed, said “This is a truth.”

And men gathered in the day,
wrote about possessions and called it poetry; they said “we’re a book club”
and a lot of them got published eventually.
They said, “We’re provocative and have new ideas and see the world differently.”

And women wrote secret spells in the night,
about passion and love and heartbreak,
strength, and power and wisdom,
and they were careful with their words, but
the villagers found them anyway, and said:

“Truth, poetry, and friendship belong to men.
You are a coven of witches and will be treated accordingly.”

And every single one of them was burned alive.

But listen, and listen well, because there is always power in naming
and if you are careful with your writing,
you can always change the future and


change the past

They say women born
under my sign have at least
two faces, if not more.

They say that where we say we are
is sometimes where we are not; that

everything you need to know
and cannot know is there
 in the shape our words make in the air

This is where the story ends and this is where it

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Janus Lady – Two


“Nothing she makes, makes
any sense, we have
no use for it and no use for her”

She smiled, said “This is a truth.”
“She’s old.”
She smiled, said “This is a truth.”
“She’s ugly.”
“She’s a spinster.”
“Nothing she says makes sense.”
“Nothing she does makes sense.”

She smiled, said “This is a truth.”

“Even the women here hate her”
“She’s not really a woman at all.”

She smiled, said “This is a truth.”

“She’s useless”
they said, in her village.

She smiled, said nothing.

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