El conjuro

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In the dark alone with all that blood on one’s hands

and the pricking of conscience like a wild woman’s thumbs,

the night vibrates with feathered vengeance.


There is little more fearsome than the shrunken hag

that shrivels manhood with a cackle and forces him

to eat the dead fruits of his drunken sowings;


conscience is stifled in the black drapes of righteousness,

for man has his reasons that woman cannot know,

being an unfinished creation and lacking reason,


and so in the dark, alone with the tingling of the blows

showered on wife and children, and the thumbs that prick

sharp as owls’ talons, he waits for the shrunken hag.


Hold the light high, for the shadows are full of sins that

shriek like owls with women’s faces. Hold the light, for

night presses hard, and home is full of women with owl faces.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

34 thoughts on “El conjuro”

      1. In the eyes of some, a woman is desirable while she’s a virgin, useful while she’s of childbearing age, and an encumbrance to stick in a corner when she’s neither. It’s a man’s world…

      2. Yet it’s funny that while men can continue (theoretically) reproducing into old age, we’re the ones who live the longest. No doubt giving some mad, hag-like cackle from our shadowy corner as the menfolk drop like flies …

    1. I’d like to think equality was gaining ground. Unfortunately we’re seeing liberty being too freely associated with intolerant religious cultures, here anyway, and we all know where patriarchal religions place women…Seems like we’ve lost the plot somewhere along the way.

      1. I agree, point for point. It should be equality, and it isn’t. And I have yet to see religion living it better. Yes, “we’ve lost the plot somewhere,” maybe just before we departed Eden. I’ll tell you, though, as we might gain equality, for how men have run the world, I’d be glad (relieved) to have women run things for a while (long while).

      2. There’s a theory that women did run things once because they were the ones who had the magic powers—to produce children. They organised, decided, and the men did what they were best fitted for, the heavy work. Then men discovered the big secret—paternity, and women lost their control. The rule of physical force, expansion and conquest took over from the peaceful organisation of live and let live. Religion became a tool of social oppression rather than a bunch of rituals to throw dust in the eyes of the men. And it hasn’t looked back since. Simplistic, but it sounds reasonable.
        My fear is that we (women) have lost touch with something fundamental and now share the same preoccupations as men, economic success, privilege, materialist acquisitiveness, power in one way or another. To get ahead you have to be pretty thick-skinned and merciless. I don’t think women are any more immune to the attractions of power than men, nor any more immune to the idiocy of patriarchal religious doctrine. Like you, I’d like to give them/us the chance to prove it though.

  1. I’ve missed you the last couple of weeks. I backtracked to check on you. Hope all is well. I really felt like you’re conjuring the Morrigan (Maiden, Mother, Crone) with your prose. Now, you’re in my neck of the woods. ❤

    1. Thanks for checking up 🙂 I just haven’t been in the mood for joining in these last weeks. Not your prompt in particular, none of them. I write and I post, but it’s like running on the spot. I’ll get over it.

  2. Your poetry is outstanding. This one gave me the shivers. I couldn’t find a place to comment on your latest poem (today’s – Veteran’s Day) but it spoke to me in so many ways. I shared it on Twitter. ❤

    1. Thank you Pamela. So much in current ideology gives me the shivers. It seems as though we are trapped in the mindset of Goya’s Spain, the brutality of the middle ages and the mumbling darkness of patriarchal desert religions.

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