VoiceCatcher Journal Header Image

Summer 2013: Poetry

Lover, Molester, and Maidens (Haibun)

		teacher’s question
		hangs in the drowsy classroom
		a crow answers

The heat and humidity are stifling and we still have two weeks of classes before summer vacation. At least here at Kyoto Seika College, I can open the windows and get some mountain air. These young women are exhausting with their need to be entertained. Today, feeling nostalgic, I begin rambling about my experiences hitchhiking from Spain to England when I was twenty. How I borrowed a Frenchman’s surfboard in Guethary, got wiped out by the waves, and nearly drowned. Doctors stitched up my forehead, which I’d hit on the fin of the surfboard. My students, who think all Americans are wealthy, are shocked to hear that I was so poor my friend had to take out the stitches instead of a doctor. They all listen today – even ask questions – and I have a good time reminiscing.

In the next Beginner English class, I go back to the textbook and set up a role playing exercise for the students: making a telephone date, then meeting at a restaurant. After I explain the vocabulary and structure of the skit, they ask me for some American men’s names, besides Michael (Jackson) and Tom (Cruise).

		on the blackboard
		I make a list of men’s names
		– all former lovers

In the more advanced afternoon class, I usually challenge these young women to discuss controversial subjects, such as feminism. Today I bring up the subject of chikan – men who molest women, most often in crowded places where they are helpless to get away. In an overpopulated country where anonymity is the norm, chikan are common. This proves to be a difficult topic for these nineteen-year-old maidens to talk about. Once I get them started by making up an imaginary tale of my own, they all have a story to tell. Most encounters were subtle – an elbow grazing her breast when jostled on the train or a man mashed up against her from behind. But when the man began rubbing up against her, visibly excited, or when the anonymous hand ventured up under her skirt – when the motive became clear – then it became “uncomfortable.” We talk about the emotions they experienced: surprise, fear, embarrassment, anger. They felt all of these, yet not one woman confronted her molester, even verbally. Culturally, I understand that it’s very hard for them to talk to a man in this situation, but I’m exasperated by their stoic endurance of these despicable acts.

I end the class by saying, “Isn’t it time, ladies, that we speak out and embarrass the men, who are really the ones who should be punished?” Some nod, some hang their heads in yet more embarrassment.

	      the words molester,
	      obscene phone call, pervert
	      left on the blackboard

Previous Button   Next Button

Poetry Thumbnail Art   Prose Thumbnail Art   Artwork Thumbnail Art   Young Voices Thumbnail Art   Contributors Thumbnail Art

Rich, strong, poignant, humorous and inspiring. We’ve caught twenty never-before-published poems by sixteen unique voices.


Seven talented women search for themselves in their bodies, their family, themselves.


Established dynamos and aspiring voices add colorful visions to our third issue.

Young Voices

Language leaps off the page in the poetry and prose of five young authors who delight in sensory detail.


Meet the authors and artists who make this Summer 2013 edition a rich, varied and engaging experience.

Table of Contents Button


        Abandoned Church by Tanya Jarvik

        Commencement by Kelly Running

        Depoe Bay by Wendy Thompson

        Directive by Cristina White

        Hawk Moth by Wendy Thompson

        How to Recycle Love Letters by Jennifer Dorner

        I Swapped a '74 Mustang for This by Jennifer Fulford

        Polaroid of My Mother by Cindy Stewart-Rinier

        Lover, Molester, and Maidens (Haibun) by Margaret Chula

        Savory by Pat Phillips West

        Seascape by Marjorie Power

        Suspended by Grace Kuhns

        The Hand-Off by Pattie Palmer-Baker

        The Ride by Linda Ferguson

        The Ticking Shirt by Tricia Knoll

        Three Facts about Sperm by Ursula Whitcher

        Three True Stories by Penelope Scambly Schott

        Today at the Library by Pat Phillips West

        Trapped Birds by Grace Kuhns

        You, who will be alive and reading after I'm gone by Penelope Scambly Schott


        After the World Ends by Kait Heacock

        Something Permanent by Ashley-Renée Cribbins

        Your Hand at Your Throat by Karen Guth

        Black Sharpie by Anne Gudger

        Diagnosis by Helen Sinoradzki

        For He's a Jolly Good Fellow by Laura Stanfill

        Breathing Underwater by Valerie Wagner


        Unity by Anne John

        Rearguard by Anne John

        Speculation by Anne John

        Wire by Jocelyn White

        Taitian Trio by Nani Chesire

        Catch Your Breath by Nani Chesire


        We Will Read to You by Rebecca Cleveland-Stout

        Strawberry Party by Natalie Lerner

        A Young Night by Clara Beaumont

        Beach Wanderer by Isabella Waldron

        Light and Dark by Colette Au