Western Voices: J.K. Winters

J.K. Winters



For many years J.K. Winters has been a teacher of writing, literature and psychology; along the way, some of her own fiction, poetry and articles were published in professional journals, literary publications and online. She has also written a full-length play, which was produced in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2017. Website, blog and writing samples can be viewed at jkwintersauthor.com. Email her at jkwintersauthor@gmail.com


I know of many things: of blood and birth, of ritual,
            of fire—and of many deaths.
My memories are multitude and ancient.
Still, the sweep of time is inconsequential
            for all Memories are One.

When I was young and the olive groves were in bloom,
            we clanged our symbols and sang,
bare feet pounding dusty paths to the Temple.
Within the holy pillars we drank the burgundy of our own blood
            from a golden chalice.

There we wooed myriad lovers and birthed the sacred off-spring,
celebrating the miracle of our bodies to create and feed.
            Genesis: a fiery, ecstatic breath drawing in the seed.
            Exodus: the releasing breath of new life.
A mystic conjugation of essences, transcending Law.

Is that what drove them to herd us into harems
            and polygamous unions?
One man for many women—legal confinement for profit.
            It is no longer lawful to love indiscriminately.
            Spiritos! So hard to breathe!

They have burned our Earth wisdom at the stake
            and turned our rituals into dreary labor:
            making meals, washing and weaving.
Too many mouths to feed; too many diapers to change.
Offices with glass ceilings, their walls spattered with our blood.

“They cannot live without you,” the Great Mother whispers,
and we hear her. “ You are Creator, Nourishment, Emotion, LIFE!
A throbbing pulse that takes in, caresses, nurtures, ejaculates.”
            Men offer olive branches in place of the groves,
                        but it is not enough.

            I am Woman. I know of many things;
            of fire, of ritual, of blood, of many deaths.
                  But also of birth…and rebirth.


How do you unpack a life
—and then pack it up again?
So many memories to lay upon
the altar of sadness.
The gold on the edge of the plates,
worth more than the dishes.
Shall we break them and sift the gold
from the chaff of china?
China made from bones, real bones.
Whose bones do you suppose they are?
Boxes of books never made digital.
Albums with faded photos
in sticky sleeves of plastic.
A diamond ring that meant something once.
We must unpack them to remember
—and then pack them back up
so they may meander into other lives
or be relegated to the trash heaps of time.
Time, that agent of evolution and devolution:
A joyful melancholy.


I am spiritually promiscuous.
Hail Mary, indulge me when
I am feeling guilty.
Nirvana? Happy to hop
in bed with the Buddhists.
And when it comes to answers
about the afterlife, no angst:
I’m atheist for the day.
I do like the idea that I am Goddess,
but when life gets hard, all I want to
do is call Jesus nine-one-one.
My vision board will bring me wealth
and Islam 72 virgins in Paradise.
(Wait! Do I really need virgins?)
Ganesha will remove all obstacles,
and when I’m in the mood for magic,
I’ll ride the cable car to Kabbalah.
No serial monogamy for me!
I am the Harlot of Having It All.

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